Breed standard: CFA, TICA I Size: Large I Average lifespan: 12+ years I Temperament: Gentle and docile I Coat: Long I Origin: United States.
The Ragdoll is a very gentle and docile cat breed. These cats truly enjoy playing with children.
The origins of the Ragdoll
A living rag doll
The Ragdoll earned this name because when you pick these cats up, they relax completely, almost as if you were holding a rag doll toy in your hands.
An unusual origin
To begin with, the Ragdoll is a recent cat breed. It originated in California in the United States. In the 1960s, Ann Baker, a cat lover, took in Josephine, a long-haired cat who had just been hit by a car. Impressed by the gentleness of this cat, she named the cat “Ragdoll” and started a breeding program. To begin with, she started by crossbreeding Josephine with alley cats. From this crossbreeding, she obtained two female cats (Buckwheat and Raggedy Ann Fugianna), who were similar to their mother when it came to their height and behavior.
These two female cats were selected for the continuation of the breeding program. In addition to their mother, two males were introduced to the program. These cats were Blackie, a black cat that resembled a Burmese cat and Daddy Warbucks, who was a dark color with white paws. The crossbreeds realized with these five cats made it possible to obtain the various current phenotypes of the breed.
Genetic studies showed that the gentle and docile temperament of Josephine was probably due to her exceptional genetic heritage. It was certainly the result of a natural genetic mutation. The Ragdoll was officially recognized by the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFé) in 1991 and by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1993.
Conquering the world
The Ragdoll was brought to the United Kingdom in 1981 by breeders, Pat Brownsell and Lulu Rowley. Over time, British cat lovers started to gain interest in the breed. The breed first appeared in France in 1986.
Nowadays, this cat breed is well settled in North America and Europe and has seen spectacular success. It was one of the first cat breeds to be recognized by the CFA in the United States. In the United Kingdom, where this cat breed represents 15% of the feline population, the Ragdoll is ranked 2nd in the CFA ranking with approximately 3,000 births per year.
When it comes to Europe, this cat breed is ranked 5th in the LOOF ranking with more than 1,500 births per year from 2018 to 2021. In France, this breed is one of the most popular with more than 2,600 cats identified in 2019.
The character of the Ragdoll
What are the Ragdoll’s qualities?
The main qualities of the Ragdoll are its tameness and legendary gentleness. Generally, Ragdolls are very endearing. They love to welcome their owners at the door when they return from work. As these cats are loyal companions, they like to follow their owner from room to room.
While this cat breed is large and strong, they know how to control and adapt their behavior with different members of the household. They know how to be patient and rarely show their claws. For this reason, they are able to play easily with young children in complete safety. These cats are very laid back and do not hesitate to come and welcome guests. They have no problem living with other pets (cats and dogs).
Are there any downsides to having a Ragdoll?
Despite this cat’s complacent nature and its great capacity of adaptation, the Ragdoll reacts very badly to pain. If you step on a Ragdoll’s tail by accident, this cat will cry out and will move far away from you with an accusing look.
This cat does not like solitude and gets bored easily when their owners are gone for too long.
The physical characteristics of the Ragdoll
The Ragdoll is a large cat with a long and strong morphology. With that being said, this cat breed grows very slowly. They will not reach full maturity until they are around four years old.
The dimorphism is very pronounced in this breed. The males are bigger than the females. An adult male Ragdoll weighs 9 kg (≈ 19.8 lb) while an adult female Ragdoll only weighs around 4 to 6 kg (≈ 8.8 and 13.2 lb).
The Ragdoll’s head is in the form of an equilateral triangle with a flat skull and a rounded forehead when looking at this cat’s profile. The forehead is prolonged by a slight depression close to their nose. This cat has large eyes with an intense blue color. They are oval-shaped and slightly slanted. Their ears are medium sized with rounded ends and facing forward.
This feline has a large and imposing rectangular body with a solid frame. They have a large and round chest. Their legs are muscular, medium, proportionate to the body, with a powerful musculature and frame. The tail is long, with lots of fur, and carried like a feather. It can reach the shoulder blade when folded over the Ragdoll’s back.
Coat, color, and grooming
This cat has a lot of fur, with long top hairs and very few hairs in their undercoat. In addition, they have a superb collerette around their neckline. The fur is short and dense on their front legs. When it comes to their hind legs, they are covered with longer fur that forms pants with fur that becomes shorter towards the ends of the legs.
The appearance of the Ragdoll is very variable and their coat can have different patterns. The dominant color of the body varies from an eggshell white to a white milk color. The different parts of the body are colored differently depending on the pattern.
For the colorpoint pattern, the head, legs, tail, and the mask are darker while the chest, collerette, and the chin are lighter.
For the mitted pattern, the ears, the mask, the legs (except the paws), and the tail are darker than the body. The chin and the extremities of the front paws are white. The abdomen and thorax are also white.
Lastly, the bicolor pattern is mainly characterized by a mask that has a symmetrical white inverted V and a pink nose. Ragdolls with a Van pattern (High White) are white at the head and tail.
Did you know?
When Josephine’s owner saw how gentle and docile she was, she stated that her behavior was modified by the accident that she was in. Josephine’s owner even went as far as to say that Josephine was genetically modified by extraterrestrials.
The Ragdoll at a glance
Size: Female Ragdolls measure around 30 to 35 cm (≈ 11.8 to 13.7 in). Male Ragdolls measure around 33 to 38 cm (≈ 12.9 to 15 in).
Weight: Females weigh around 3 to 8 kg (≈ 6.6 and 17.6 lb) and up to 9 kg (≈ 19.8 lb) for males.
Health: The Ragdoll has a solid health, but the breed can be affected by two diseases: HCM and PKD. HCM or Hypertrophic Cardio-Myopathy is a heart condition. PKD or Polykystic Kidney Disease is a kidney disease.
Average lifespan: 12 to 17 years.
Are Ragdolls good with children? This cat has a gentle personality that adapts very well to living with a family with children with whom they can play.