Who’s That Cat? Meet the Ragdoll, a Feline Sweetie


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.

Who doesn’t love a snuggly cat? The Ragdoll is an armful of love, packaged in a beautiful medium-length pointed coat and adorned with sapphire-blue eyes. His people-loving personality belies the notion that cats are aloof and independent. The Ragdoll will follow in your footsteps and relax in your arms as if there’s no place he’d rather be — and there probably isn’t.

Man and Ragdoll by Shutterstock
Man and Ragdoll by Shutterstock

The Ragdoll’s gentle, affectionate nature makes him a good choice for first-time cat owners, retirees, or work-at-home types who can devote some time to this feline love bug.

Living with a Ragdoll

Ragdolls are also known as “puppy cats” because they are so intent on being with their people and can learn to walk on a leash and do tricks. That doesn’t mean they’re rambunctious, though. Quiet and laid-back, they are more often found on the floor or sofa rather than on top of the refrigerator or climbing the curtains.

The Ragdoll coat, which is often described as having the texture of bunny fur, looks high-maintenance, but it’s actually pretty easy to care for. The coat doesn’t mat readily and requires brushing or combing only once or twice a week.

Ragdolls love to play. They will chase and retrieve toys, quickly figure out food puzzles, and flip for fishing-pole toys.

"Ragdoll from Gatil Ragbelas" by Simone Johnsson - originally posted to Flickr as Yan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.
Ragdoll from Gatil Ragbelas” by Simone Johnsson – originally posted to Flickr as Yan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Children and Ragdolls can be a perfect pairing, as long as children aren’t allowed to drag the cat around like, well, a ragdoll. These cats are also known to get along well with other pets. They’re lovers, not fighters.

Things you should know

A healthy Ragdoll can live 15 or more years. The main health problem seen in the Ragdoll is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common type of heart disease seen in all cats. The good news is that a DNA test is available to identify the gene that causes the disease in Ragdolls, mak- ing it easy for breeders to select cats who are free of the gene for their breeding programs.

A Ragdoll is best suited to a home with people who will enjoy his constant companionship, be willing to groom his luxurious coat, and always have a lap available for him. Don’t choose a Ragdoll if you value your privacy.

Sealpoint mitted Ragdoll kitten by Shutterstock
Sealpoint mitted Ragdoll kitten by Shutterstock


The Ragdoll is a relatively new breed created by breeder Ann Baker in Riverside, California, in the 1960s. Baker is said to have used a stray female cat who resembled a white Turkish Angora; a stray black-and-white male with white mittens; their offspring, a solid black male; a seal-point bicolor female; and a brown longhaired male. She selectively bred them to create the cat we now know as the Ragdoll.

The Ragdoll was accepted into The International Cat Association when the organization was established in 1979. The Cat Fanciers’ Association began registering the cats in 1993. The bicolors achieved championship status in 2000, with colorpoint and mitted varieties being accepted for championship status in 2008.

In 2014, the Ragdoll was the fourth most popular breed registered by the CFA, out of 43.

"Flame point Ragdoll" by Cássia Afini - originally posted to Flickr as Gato. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.
Flame point Ragdoll” by Cássia Afini – originally posted to Flickr as Gato. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Fun Facts

  • Kittens are born white. Their points and patterns start to appear by the time they are 10 days old, but their coat color and length don’t reach their full glory until they are 2 to 3 years old.
  • Ragdolls have a light-colored body with darker points on the face, ears, legs, and tail. The points can be red, seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, or cream. Sometimes the points are overlaid with tabby (lynx point) or tortoiseshell patterns.
Ragdoll kittens by Shutterstock
Ragdoll kittens by Shutterstock
  • In addition to the colorpoint pattern, which has no white markings, a Ragdoll’s coat can be mitted or bicolor. Mitted Ragdolls have white paws, a white chin, and a white “belly stripe” that starts at the chin and goes all the way across the abdomen. Bicolors have white legs, a white belly, and a white, upside-down “V” shape on the face. Sometimes they have white patches on the back as well.
  • Often nicknamed “gentle giants,” Ragdolls are big cats. Males can weigh 20 or more pounds. The cats don’t achieve their full size until they are about 4 years old. In contrast to their size, they have small, soft voices — another characteristic that makes them easy to live with.

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About the author: Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning freelance writer in Southern California. Her subjects include pet care, health and behavor, and wildlife and marine life conservation.

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