Ragdoll Cat Profile – History, temperament and colours

Ragdoll cat history   Temperament   Appearance    Choosing a Ragdoll cat    Health   Ragdoll care   Lifespan   Ragdoll cat colours

Bicolour Ragdoll cat

The Ragdoll at a glance

  • Origin: California, USA
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Energy: Medium
  • Temperament: Loyal, easygoing, placid
  • Weight: Males 6-7 kg (13.2 – 15.4 lbs), females 5-6 kg (11 – 13.2 lbs)
  • Colours: Every colour is accepted
  • Grooming: Requires daily grooming
  • Alternate names: Raggy


One of the largest domestic cat breeds, the Ragdoll is a blue-eyed, semi-longhaired cat known for their easygoing and relaxed nature. The breed was founded by Ann Baker in the 1960’s.

Due to their laid-back personality, the Ragdoll is a great family pet who gets along with anybody. They are known to flop in their owner’s arms, however, despite what is said about the Ragdoll, they do feel pain just like any other cat.

History of the Ragdoll cat

Ann Baker Ragdoll cat

The history of the Ragdoll cat begins in the 1960’s with a white Persian/Angora type cat by the name of Josephine (pictured above). Some say she belonged to Ann Baker a Persian breeder from Riverside, California, others claim that Josephine was a feral cat who lived in a colony belonging to her neighbours, the Pennels.

Josephine Ragdoll cat

What we do know that Josephine was hit by a car, and this is where the story takes on a somewhat bizarre twist.  She was taken to the veterinary hospital at the University of California, where Ann claims she was subjected to government testing which resulted in Josephine being relaxed when picked up and no longer feeling pain.  Ann noticed that the next litter of kittens were larger and all had the same laid-back temperament as Josephine had developed.

Government conspiracies aside, Josephine had two boys to two fathers. Blackie, as the name would suggest, a black cat and Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks (Daddy Warbucks for short),   who had a cream coloured coat, with dark points and white mitts. These two males are considered to be the founding fathers of the Ragdoll breed. Daddy Warbucks,  was mated to one of Blackie’s daughters, producing two kittens, Raggedy Ann Tiki (Tiki) and Raggedy Ann Kyoto (Kyoto). Another daughter of Josephine’s, Buckwheat was mated to Daddy Warbucks producing Fugianna. It is Daddy Warbucks, Tiki, Kyoto and Fugianna who were registered as the first Ragdoll cats with the NCFA in 1966. Daddy Warbucks being number 1.

Bicolour Ragdoll cat

During this time, several breeders became involved in breeding the Ragdoll cat and in 1971 Ann founded the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) and placed strict rules on how Ragdoll cats could be bred.  A number of breeders rebelled against Ann’s strict regulations and set out to establish the breed without her involvement. Laura and Denny Dayton were a couple who decided to breed the Ragdoll cat so that other cat associations would eventually accept it and in 1975 the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RFCI) was formed.

In 1981, Lulu Rowley of the Petil-lu Cattery purchased four Ragdolls from the Daytons and introduced the breed to Britain.

The Ragdoll cat is one of the most popular breeds of purebred cat.

Why the name Ragdoll cat?

Bicolour Ragdoll cats

The breed was named the Ragdoll due to their relaxed nature. When picked up, many Ragdolls will go limp and flop in your arms.

Ragdoll cat temperament

Bicolour Ragdoll cats

The Ragdoll is an extremely laid back and placid breed of cat. Despite claims made by Ann Baker that they feel no pain, this is definitely not true. All cats feel pain, including the Ragdoll. What may be the case is that they just hide it better.

Ragdolls thrive on companionship and are never far from their human companions. They are extremely loyal and almost dog-like in their nature. They get along extremely well with people, including children and other pets. It is not uncommon for Ragdolls to choose one favourite human in the family, although they will get along with everyone.

The Ragdoll is somewhat of a contradiction, both playful and relaxed at the same time. It is said that they are easy to train and enjoy playing fetch with their owners. They will meet you at the door when you return home from and follow you around the house as you do your chores. They are wonderful lap cats and quite happy to curl up on the sofa with you. While they love to be close to their family, Ragdolls aren’t as demanding as other breeds of cat can be.

They make great apartment dwelling cats due to their quiet and relaxed nature as well as being happy just to spend time with their human companions.

Appearance of the Ragdoll cat

Colourpoint Ragdoll cat
Image Antti, Flickr

Ragdolls are a large breed of cat who are heavy boned with a muscular body. They can weigh between  6.5 – 8 kg (14 – 17.5 lbs) for males and females weighing slightly less at 5.5-7.5 kg (12-16.5 lbs).

The head is broad and wedge-shaped with well-developed cheeks, and a strong chin. Ears are medium sized and should be set as much on the top of the head as they are on the side, they are broad at the base and rounded at the tip. Eyes are oval in shape and a stunning blue colour.

The legs are in proportion to the body with substantial boning. Paws are large and round. Tufting between the paws is desirable in the Ragdoll.

The tail should be equal length to the body, thicker at the base and tapering at the tip.

The semi-longhaired coat is silky, lying smoothly on the body with a sparse undercoat. Kittens are all white when they are born. Their mask, ears, and tail darken up later. The Ragdoll comes in three patterns, bicolour, mitted,  and colour point.

The Ragdoll cat doesn’t reach full maturity until between 3-4 years of age.

 Ragdoll colours and patterns: 

The Ragdoll comes in a range of colours, including:

Ragdoll cat colours

Ragdoll cat patterns include:

  • Pointed – Dark face, ears, legs, feet and tail.
  • Mitted – White mittens on the feet and a white chin extending to the belly.  Some have a white star or blaze on the nose.
  • Bicolour – Dark face with a white inverted V, ears, and tail.
  • Van – Dark ears and tail.

Ragdoll cat patterns

See the end of article for photos of the different Ragdoll colours.

Choosing a Ragdoll cat

Blue mitted Ragdoll cat

Ragdoll cats should be purchased from a breeder who is registered with one of the cat councils. It is always advisable to find out who their registering body is and confirm they are indeed registered.

It is always best to meet the Ragdoll in person and if possible, also the parents.

Purebred cats may be ‘breeder, show or pet’ quality. A breeder is just that, and should only be sold to a registered breeder. A show quality cat means it meets the standard and is a good example of the breed. A pet quality cat means it may have a slight fault somewhere, which is almost always cosmetic…be it a white spot where there shouldn’t be one, a kinked tail or some other minor fault. Pet quality make great cats and are usually sold less than a show quality cat.

If buying a kitten, it should have been worked, flea treated and have received at least two of its vaccinations (shots). Many breeders now opt to have kittens spayed or neutered before going to their new home. Kittens bounce back from this surgery. In Australia, cats should be microchipped, even where it’s not compulsory, it is strongly advised, so that if your cat does get out, he can be safely returned to you.

Get any guarantees in writing from the breeder.

Ragdoll cat health problems

Bicolour Ragdoll cat

The Ragdoll is a healthy breed of cat with few health problems, but as with all breeds, Ragdolls may be at greater risk of developing certain health conditions including:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Feline mucopolysaccharidosis

There is a genetic test for the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutation. Always ask breeders if their cats have been tested.

Ragdoll cat care

Colourpoint Ragdoll cat

Ragdolls should be groomed daily to prevent any mats in their semi-longhaired coat. This will only take 10 minutes and is a good way to spend some time with your cat. Regularly check your cat’s claws, especially the front ones, and if they become too long, they can be trimmed back 2-3 mm. Both grooming and claw trimming should begin in kittenhood.

Ragdolls are strictly an indoor cat, and should only ever be allowed outside in an enclosure or on a leash. They are way too trusting and placid to be allowed to roam free.

Dental care is important not only for your Ragdoll’s teeth but his overall health. Teeth can be cared for with a special cat toothbrush and toothpaste (never use human toothpaste on your cat), or you can give him chunks of human grade steak or chicken necks 2-3 times a week.

When you bring your Ragdoll home, you should have been told by his breeder what food he has been eating. If you decide to change this, do so gradually, over a few days. He should be fed a premium diet, be it commercial, homemade or a combination of both. Once weaned, your Ragdoll will have no need to drink milk, all that is required is clean, fresh drinking water.

Your Ragdoll should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year for a health check and if necessary, booster shots.

Ragdoll cat lifespan

Bicolour Ragdoll cat

The Ragdoll lives between 12-15 years.

Related breeds


Seal point Ragdoll Chocolate point Ragdoll
Seal point Ragdoll Chocolate point Ragdoll
Blue point Ragdoll Flame point Ragdoll
Blue point Ragdoll Flame point Ragdoll
Chocolate bi-colour Ragdoll
Chocolate bi-colour Ragdoll Seal tortie Ragdoll

Also see: Ragdoll Cat Breeders   Cat Breeds List

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