Ragdolls are arguably one of the most beautiful of all cat breeds. With their long coat, distinctive markings and bright blue eyes it is no wonder that they are one of the most sought after pedigree cats. Despite their name, there is nothing raggedly or inelegant about this breed at all. In fact, their name comes from the fact that the breed has a tendency to go limp and remain completely relaxed when picked up.
The history of the first Ragdoll cats is somewhat bizarre. They were bred by a breeder named Ann Baker, in California in the 1960’s who believed that her cat had been altered genetically while hospitalized after a car accident. After coming home from treatment, she claimed that the long haired white cat, named Josephine, now went limp when being lifted. While this could have been a side effect of the accident, her next litter of kittens all displayed the same trait, causing Baker to believe that Josephine’s genes had been altered. She set about breeding Josephine with males that showed distinctive and attractive markings, and the Ragdoll breed was developed.
Although recognizable by their distinctive markings when fully grown, Ragdoll kittens are born completely white and it can take up to three years for them to reach maturity and their coats to fully develop markings. For this reason if you are buying a Ragdoll kitten it is extremely important to double check all paperwork that can verify the kitten’s pedigree, especially if you are planning to show the cat.
A Ragdoll cat’s hair is extremely soft and downy, and is often said to be more like a rabbit’s than a cat’s. Unlike many other breeds, Ragdolls are not prone to excessive shedding, and indeed may shed less than short haired cats. Another feature of this remarkable breed is that their coat does not require as much brushing or grooming as other long haired breeds. Running a long toothed comb or brush through your Ragdoll cat’s coat once a week is usually sufficient to remove dead hair and smooth out any tangle. Do, however pay particular attention to your cat’s armpit area, as this is one place where matting can occur.
Ragdoll cats are typically white with some coloured shading towards the extremities such as the ears, tail and paws. These markings are similar to those of a Siamese. There are three general types of markings found within the Ragdoll breed: pointed, bicolour and mitted. All of these colourings are acceptable at shows, as long as they fit within the requirements for each pattern of markings. Pointed Ragdoll cats have colourings that closely resemble a Siamese, with their whole coat being a single colour and darkening out towards the tips of the ears and tail. Bicolour Ragdoll cats have the same shading, but with a distinctive inverted V of white on their face, and with a white chest, stomach and legs. Mitted Ragdolls have colouration similar to pointed, but must have a white chest and stomach, as well as white paws, or “socks”.
Another trait that the Ragdoll shares with a Siamese cat is light eyes. Although the most desirable colour is blue, it is not uncommon for Ragdoll cats to have light green eyes.
When it comes to size, Ragdolls are one of the largest breeds of cats. Fully grown male cats can weigh up to ten kilograms (1.5 stone, or 20 lbs) with female cats being slightly lighter. They are sturdy cats with strong bones, however their kind, open features and shaggy coat soften their overall appearance.
As well as needing little grooming and being easy to handle, another feature which makes these beautiful cats a great family pet is their temperament. Ragdoll cats are gentle giants, and tend to be easy-going, placid, calm and quiet cats. They are also highly affectionate and enjoy spending time with their owners. They make great pets for families with children, and tend to get on with other animals too. Their beauty and charm are sure to win the hearts of any lucky owner.