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Ragdoll Cat

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Ragdoll Cat

Ragdoll Cat | Breed Profile | Breed History

The Ragdoll is a breed of medium longhaired cat. It is best known for its docile and placid temperament and affectionate nature. It is perhaps the gentlest and most easy-going of breeds. They are non-aggressive to the point that many cats cannot or should not be let outside for prolonged periods as many will not defend themselves and most do not hunt. The name “Ragdoll” derived from the fact that many of these cats go completely limp and relax when picked up. Ragdolls have a sturdy body, short legs, and a thick coat with Siamese-style points.

The Ragdoll is an American cat breed with a medium-length, silky, rabbit-like coat. It is best known for its docile and placid temperament and affectionate nature. The name “Ragdoll” is derived from the popular misconception that these cats go completely limp and relax when picked up, more often than other cats. It is also a myth that Ragdolls are pain-resistant. Ragdolls have a sturdy body with a large frame, proportionate legs, and a soft coat with Siamese-style points. Adult cats can be 15-20 lbs without being considered obese, and a fatty pad under the abdomen is typical.


The breed had its origin in California in the 1960s with a cat named Josephine. Several wild and scientifically impossible stories were put out by the colorful breed founder regarding the origin and development of the Ragdoll breed, including extraterrestrials, kittens’ traits and personality being affected by the mother’s being hit by a car, and genetic alteration using human genes. None of these legends are scientifically supportable. What is known is that this breed was selectively bred over many years for desirable traits, such as large size, docility, and ability to go limp in the arms like a rag doll – hence the cat’s name.

Ragdolls were first created in the 1960’s by Ann Baker, a quirky Persian breeder in California. Some of the original stock consisted of hardy, free-roaming street cats. Ms. Baker created the foundations of the Ragdoll breed by selecting kittens out of Josephine, a semi-feral longhaired white female Persian/Angora type, sired by several unknown male Birman-like or Burmese-like cats, one with Siamese type markings.

Out of those early litters came Blackie, an all black Burmese-like male and Daddy Warbucks, a seal point with white feet. Daddy Warbucks sired the founding bi-color female Fugianna, and Blackie sired Buckwheat, a dark brown/black Burmese-like female. Both Fugianna and Buckwheat were daughters of Josephine. All Ragdoll and RagaMuffin cats are descended from Ann Baker’s cats through matings of Daddy Warbucks to Fugianna and Buckwheat. By selecting individuals with the look and temperament she wanted for her breeding program, Ann Baker created the standard Ragdoll type.

Baker, in an unusual move, spurned traditional cat breeding associations. She trademarked the name “Ragdoll”, set up her own registry – International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) – and enforced stringent standards on anyone who wanted to breed or sell cats under that name. The Ragdolls were also not allowed to be registered in other breed associations. In 1975, a group broke rank with IRCA with the aim of gaining mainstream recognition for the Ragdoll. This group, which included Denny and Laura Dayton eventually developed the Ragdoll standard currently accepted by major cat registries.

The breed was selectively bred over many years for desirable traits, such as large size, gentle demeanour, and a tendency to go limp when picked up, as well as the striking pointed coloration. In 1994, a second group decided to leave the IRCA and form their own group due to increasingly strict breeding restrictions. This group later established the RagaMuffin breed.

Ann Baker’s claims that her new breed had been genetically-modified by scientists, as well as her strict control of the breeding programs of those who bred the early Ragdolls, made her a controversial, if legendary, name in Ragdoll history.

The Ragdoll is a large, semi-longhaired cat, exhibiting the pointed pattern in three varieties: colorpoint, bicolor, and mitted. Coat colors can be seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac point colors, either with or without markings on the face and feet. The Ragdoll cat typically has a very gentle and relaxed temperament. When socialized from birth they are attentive and affectionate members of the family that enjoy and seek out human companionship.

Ragdoll cats remain playful throughout their lives, adjust well to children and pets and are sometimes called “puppy-cats” because of their propensity to follow their owners from room to room and meet them at the door. Some Ragdoll cats may become very antisocial when they are older. Ragdoll cats are demurely vocal, careful with their claws and teeth when in play, plus forgiving of accidental mistreatment. Because of their non-defensive nature, a Ragdoll should never be allowed outdoors unattended.

In some associations, they are also available in non traditional colors, such as red (flame), tortie and lynx point. Their semi-long coats need minimal care and do not usually become matted with regular combing. Ragdolls typically take up to 4 years to fully mature physically. An adult male can weigh between 12 and 20 lb, while the females can weigh between 10 and 15 lb.

Ragdolls require light grooming and great nutrition to give them an overall fluffy and healthy appearance. Although it is a myth that Ragdolls do not shed, their coat is easier to manage than many other long-haired breeds with just weekly combing to remove loose hairs and prevent mats. Bathing is rarely needed but well-tolerated, as are nail-clippings and vet visits.

The presenters of long-running CBBC TV program, Blue Peter, have a Ragdoll cat amongst their team, whom they have aptly named “Socks”, due to many young viewers’ votes. Cy (kitten) was a ragdoll cat. Ragdolls come in 6 different colors – seal, chocolate, flame, and “dilutes”; blue, lilac, and cream.

There are 3 different patterns: Pointed (nose, ears, tail and paws in the specific colors & no white), Mitted – white paws, chin and tummy, with or without a blaze (a white line on the face), and Bicolor – white tall socks, white inverted ‘V’ on the face, white tummy and often white patches on the back.