- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Physique: Large, intense blue eyes
- Best Suited For: Families with children, singles and seniors
- Temperament: Lovable, affectionate, and docile. Very easy to handle
In the 1960s, a rescued long-haired cat named Josephine gave birth to two litters of kittens that were distinctive for their high degree of friendliness. Josephine was likely a Persian/Angora mix, and the fathers of her litters were either Birman or Burmese males, one of which had Siamese colorpoint markings. Established cat breeder Ann Baker bought some of the kittens and set out to create a docile breed, which she trademarked as the Ragdoll. (Interestingly, Baker was convinced the cats had been the subject of secret government experiments at the University of California where Josephine recovered after having been injured in a car accident. She thought their docility was a result of those experiments.) Baker circumvented the normal avenues for breed development, and founded the International Ragdoll Association to enforce especially strict breeding standards. It was not until 1975 that the Ragdoll breed went mainstream and were accepted by the Cat Fancier’s Association and other registries.
Ragdolls are happy, docile cats that tend to go limp when picked up.
Ragdolls are happy, docile cats that tend to go limp when picked up. They are not, as some myths suggest, resistant to pain, but they are one of the most relaxed of all cat breeds. Because of their extremely trusting and non-combative nature, Ragdolls don’t always know what’s safe or good for them. They must be strictly indoor cats for their own protection. Obviously they are gentle, affectionate, and intelligent cats, if not possessed with particularly good judgement. They are, however, very lovable, and incredibly easy to handle.
Ragdolls are one of the biggest of all domestic cats. They are sturdy, with large frames and well proportioned legs. In addition to the distinctive point coloration, they always have blue eyes. For show cats, the more intense the eye color the better. Interestingly, they shed less than might be suspected because they do not have a thick undercoat. Most of their long hair is encompassed by long, outer guard hairs. Mitted Ragdolls with white feet and white chins were first allowed in the 2008-2009 show season. They are often confused with Birmans, but the latter have colored chins.
There are six accepted colors for Ragdolls: seal, chocolate, flame, blue, lilac, and cream. Every Ragdoll kitten is born white, and begin to exhibit their coat color within 8-10 weeks. Full coloration is not finalized until 2-4 years. The four accepted patterns are Pointed, Mitted, Bicolor, and Lynx.
The soft, “rabbit like” fur of the Ragdoll is surprisingly impervious to matting. Shedding and the corollary problem of hairballs are easily mitigated by regular combing and brushing, which the Ragdolls love. This is even more important during the spring, when shedding naturally increases as the cats lose their winter coats. Wide-toothed steel combs work well and should be used daily. Depending on the amount of loose, dead hair present, bathing may also be required monthly. Some Ragdolls also experience eye “goop,” which should be cleaned gently away to avoid staining in the corner of the eyes.
Photo credit: Erik Lam/Shutterstock