- Lifespan: 12-17 years
- Size (Adult): 17-21 inches, 10-20 pounds
- Personality: Affectionate, quiet, cuddly
- Shedding: Moderate
- Pet Friendly: They tend to accept other pets well
- Vocal: Usually pretty quiet
- Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor is best
- Intelligence: Moderate to high intelligence, quick learners
If you love the attributes of a dog but think of yourself as a “cat person,” the Ragdoll is for you. These kitties are affectionate, loyal, and playful yet will melt in your arms, giving them their Ragdoll name. They also tend to be on the bigger side and have a silky soft hair coat that does require some attention.
The Ragdoll is a breed developed in California during the 1960s. The foundation female, known as Josephine, was a white, longhaired kitty with some colorful genes in her background. The breed developer, Ann Baker, selected kittens for their laid-back personality and Himalayan-type coloring. The result was a calm and affectionate cat with long, soft hair with colored “points” similar to those of a Siamese.
Baker named them Ragdolls because they tend to flop in your arms when held, completely at ease in human company. In a later development, Persians and Burmese, among other cat breeds, are thought to contribute to the overall makeup.
Ragdolls were officially recognized as a breed by the Cat Fancier’s Association in 1993, with full recognition in 2000. They are now a very popular breed among pet owners.
Ragdolls are on the larger end of the cat spectrum, with males getting up to 20 pounds or more and females coming in at 10-15 pounds. They can be 17-21 inches tall at the shoulder, with females being smaller than males.
This is a slow maturing breed. Most adults don’t reach their mature size and weight until around four years old. Full coloring typically happens around two years of age. They also have a fat pad that is characteristic of the breed, not an indication of overfeeding. Since they are so late to mature, proper nutrition is important throughout their growth phase.
Even though a Ragdoll’s coloring and haircoat are striking, it’s perhaps their personality that draws most people to this breed. Ragdolls are knowns for their propensity to sink into their family’s arms and cuddle at any given opportunity. They love to be around people and often greet you at the door and follow you around the house.
But don’t be fooled by their docile nature; Ragdolls also like to play, especially interactively. Many Ragdolls adore toys or other games with their family. This breed is also quick to learn and can pick up many different tricks. They can even be trained to walk on a leash and retrieve a ball.
A Ragdoll’s laid-back personality makes them a great family pet, even with children and other animals. They are well mannered enough to tolerate games of dress-up and cuddling with kids and even dogs.
They are quiet and will generally only use their soft voice when politely asking for food.
Lifespan and Health
The lifespan of a Ragdoll averages around 12-17 years, especially if kept as indoor pets.
Being a purebred animal, they are more likely to develop certain health conditions such as:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common heart condition found in cats. This condition causes the walls of the heart to thicken, decreasing the efficiency of pumping blood. In Ragdolls, it is often the result of a genetic mutation that now has a test to identify it in breeding animals.
- Bladder stones: Ragdolls carry an increased risk of developing calcium oxalate stones in their urinary bladder. These stones can lead to recurrent urinary tract infections and discomfort. Diet changes and increased water consumption can sometimes help prevent them.
The laid-back personality of a Ragdoll doesn’t mean that they are also low maintenance. You may spend quite a bit of time loving on them and grooming their long hair coat. Ragdolls have a fairly thin undercoat, which means that it won’t mat, tangle or shed as much as thicker-haired breeds, but it still requires daily or weekly brushing.
Bath your Ragdoll anytime their hair becomes greasy or tangled, and pay special attention to their under-the-tail area as it can become encrusted with feces.
Exercise is a must for these kitties. They like to play and climb, especially to heights that are more eye level with you. Provide them with interactive toys when you’re away. Don’t be afraid to teach a Ragdoll some tricks, like fetch, or teach them to walk on a leash so that they can accompany you on your evening stroll.
Since this breed is one of the slower-growing among cats, they need to be fed a high quality, high protein food and lots of it until they have reached their mature size. Once they achieve maturity around four years of age, you’ll need to adjust their meal size to maintain a healthy weight. A veterinarian should serve as a nutritional advisor to help you determine the best food and amount to give your pet.
Daily tooth brushing will help prevent dental disease and keep your feline friend’s breath fresh. This is especially important since a Ragdoll will want to spend most of their time on your lap or in your bed. You may also want to wipe their eyes daily with a damp cloth and check their ears weekly for signs of infection.
The last bit of advice for caring for Ragdolls is not to let them become pushovers. It may be easy for young children or other pets to manhandle or mistreat them with their docile personality. Always supervise interactions between kids or pets if you’re unsure how both sides will react.
The price of a Ragdoll is going to vary based on quality. Most pets are sold for around $200-400, while show quality individuals can reach as high as $2,000.
If you’re in the market for a Ragdoll cat, be sure to use a reputable breeder. Don’t trust any breeder that says their animals are “disease-free.” There’s no such thing. Instead, look for breeders who have done pre-breeding screenings on their cats to reduce the chances of them having conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Purchasing a kitten isn’t the only way to get your arms around a Ragdoll. Check your local animal shelters and rescues for abandoned and surrendered kitties. Or search Petfinder for Ragdolls in need of a new home.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.