The Ragdoll cat is a breed that has survived much controversy. What is considered certain within the confusing history is that it was first developed in the 1960s by a former Persian breeder, Ann Baker of Riverside, California. According to Baker, a feral white Angora-like cat named Josephine was the matriarch of the Ragdoll breed.
Baker had insisted that the Josephine was previously hit by a car and brought to a nearby medical center where its genes were then altered. Subsequent litters produced by Josephine possess a loving personality and a propensity to become very limp when it is being picked up, thus, the name Ragdoll. Such trait was not known to be present in the other kittens prior to Josephine’s hospitalization.
However, there have been no records to substantiate the claims of Baker’s about the origins of the Ragdoll cat. In fact, many of her other claims had been described as Twilight story, strange and unbelievable. Thus, the truth behind the origins of Ragdoll has in a way perished with the death of Baker.
A more likely possibility is that Josephine possessed recessive genes of pleasant traits. She was then bred with a few other longhaired breeds that had the Siamese-style points, establishing the foundation of the lovable Ragdoll breed. The first two color-points, Kyoto and Tiki, were accepted for registration on December 30, 1966 by the National Cat Fanciers Association (NCFA).
Years later, in 1971, Baker initiated the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) in order to control and be the sole proprietor of the breed. She has even trademarked the Ragdoll name and sold its franchises. Thus, breeders were subjected to licensing and royalty fees as well as controlled guidelines for the breeding of the Ragdoll cat. Moreover, any other mainstream cat associations were not allowed to register all of IRCA Ragdoll cats, making the IRCA the only registry for Ragdoll cats.
However, breeders soon felt uncomfortable with such arrangements and the guidelines of the IRCA. They decided to break off from it. In 1975 these breeders formed the Ragdoll society, which was later renamed the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RFCI). Denny and Laura Dayton, being the founder of the association, became the prominent figures who dedicated their time and the association to promote and bring the breed to recognition within the mainstream cat associations.
Efforts continued and it did help that breed groups that had affiliation with the mainstream cat associations formed the Ragdolls of America Group (RAG) in 1993 to promote the Ragdoll breed. The controversies of the Ragdoll cats took many years to subside, but it was necessary for its championship status to emerge in every major North American cat associations.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Ragdoll cat is considered one of the largest cat breeds with heavy boning. Males weigh between 12 -20 pounds while females are typically between 8 - 15 pounds. It has a long body and its broad chest, shoulders and hindquarters contribute to its rectangular form. Even though there appears to be a fatty pad on the lower abdomen, the Ragdoll is substantially well-muscled, exhibiting a controlled flow of strength and grace. The well-proportionate legs are medium in length and heavily boned. The hind legs are slightly longer than the forelegs. The long tail that is thick with a gorgeous full plume softens the appearance of the cat and added grace to its deportment.
This breed has a heavy and strong neck. It carries a medium sized head that is broad and of a modified wedge. A flat plane between the ears is evident. It has full cheeks and a vaguely rounded muzzle. Viewed in profile, the muzzle appears to be of medium length with a well-developed chin.
Set atop the head is a pair of medium sized ears that are set wide apart and tilts slightly forward. They are broad at the base and tapers into a rounded tip. Complementing the modified-wedge head is a pair of large eyes that can either be rounded or oval with a moderate slant towards the ears. They reflect a more vivid blue that makes them one of its most distinctive features.
It has moderately long coat that is non-matting. The undercoat is slightly woolly and is lavished with luxuriant guard hair that falls smoothly across the body. The coat length runs like a gradient; being shorter on the face and shoulders, then lengthening towards the hindquarters and tail. It also wears a generous ruff around the neck.
All Ragdolls are pointed with four accepted patterns, namely, bi-color, colour-point, mitted and van. The coat can come in six different colors, i.e., blue, chocolate, cream, lilac, red and seal. What defines the bi-color Ragdoll cat is an inverted “v” on its mask. The chin, chest, undercoat, legs and paws are preferably all white. White spotting may appear on its upper back.
The pointed pattern of color-point Ragdoll cat may be lynx, tortie-lynx, tortie or solid. They are clearly defined on the ears, mask, legs, paws and tail. The Mitted Ragdoll has matching white mittens on its fore and hind paws. Its pointed pattern is well-defined on the ears, mask, legs and tail. The pointed pattern of a Van Ragdoll cat is restricted to its ears, mask and tail. Its body, legs and paws are ideally all white with the allowance of minor spotting.
Personality and temperament
The Ragdoll breed is considered one of the best cats for first-time cat owners. Despite being exceptionally large in size, this breed is also especially mild, sweet and easy-going. Being agreeable has contributed to its highly adaptable nature to most environments. This quiet breed has a soft, polite voice that it will use only when necessary. One of the defining traits of this laid-back temperament is how it will go limp like a rag doll literally in your arms.
The Ragdoll is also a people-oriented and friendly breed and makes an excellent indoor companion for adults, children and even other family pets. It shows its endearment towards loved ones by following them around the house. Affections are displayed by greeting you at the door, flopping on your feet, perching on your shoulders or lying on your laps. Basically, it appreciates being close to you.
Docile but playful, Ragdoll cat is a breed that enjoys fun activities well into its senior years. Also an intelligent breed, the Ragdoll learns tricks fast and can be trained to walk on the leash with ease.
Care and health issues
This is a robust and healthy breed with a potential lifespan of between 15 – 20 years. Health concerns are usually limited to those that are common among cats. One of the most common is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is a heart condition that can be detected through screening. Though health issues are few, it is still necessary to obtain that comes with a written health guarantee. This would ensure that the cat has been tested and scanned for any genetic or common cat diseases.
Grooming is rather simple with a bi-weekly brushing of the coat to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils. Pay extra attention to matting in areas around the legs, neck and tail. Other basic grooming practices should include mail trimming when necessary, ear checks for infections and frequent teeth brushing with a pet-approved product. Be careful not to over-feed this breed that is prone to obesity.
The ideal home
Ragdoll cats thrive indoors and preferably so for safety precaution. However, a cat-friendly environment and an adventure zone are still necessary to encourage a hearty growth. The cat will need enough space to explore, play and exercise. Thus, interactive toys, cat trees and cat gym sets would need to be provided.
A quiet outdoor space and garden can, of course, but it needs to be escape-proof and safe. This large cat would make an ideal pet for people who live in a spacious apartment. With a well-balanced temperament and an easy-going nature packed with fun and affections, the Ragdoll is certainly a much treasured cat to have as a pet.