Ann Baker of Riverside, California developed the Ragdoll breed in the early 1960s. A pure white longhaired cat named Josephine is believed to be the matriarch of the breed along with a seal mitted male named Daddy Warbucks and a solid black cat named Blackie. Daddy Warbucks was bred to a daughter of Josephine named Buckwheat and her half sister, Fugianna. These cats are the foundation of the Ragdoll breed. Ann insisted Josephine's genes were altered at a nearby medical center where she was taken after being hit by a car. Litters born after her return from the hospital had the limp, loving personalities Ragdolls are known for, unlike her "normal" kittens born prior to her hospitalization.
Baker's breeding program consisted of a handful of breeders contracted as franchises under her. As time went on, Baker became more eccentric and breeders broke away from her so they could continue to develop the highly affectionate and consistently patterned cats. Denny and Laura Dayton were among the breeders who distanced themselves from Baker and went on to play a major role in making the Ragdoll into a legitimate breed recognized by all the major registries.
The Ragdoll is a relaxed, happy cat and, like a child's ragdoll, many of these cats will go limp in your arms and flop like a stuffed doll when cuddled. Generally, the Ragdoll cat is a loving, quiet cat with a very laidback disposition. If you are looking for a very active cat or a talkative cat, a Ragdoll probably is not the breed for you, although kittens and young adults can be very rambunctious and most Ragdolls are always willing to play. Ragdolls are known for their tolerant attitudes with other animals and especially children and many will allow themselves to be dressed in doll clothes and carried around by youngsters with absolutely no resistance. They are often compared to dogs because of their friendliness and intelligence and have even been taught to play fetch.
The Ragdoll's medium length, silky coat has a soft rabbit-like texture. There is little shedding of the coat except in the spring and fall. Its soft texture means it stays on top of surfaces and is easy to pick-up with a hand or damp cloth. All pointed Ragdolls have beautiful blue eyes and come in 3 patterns: colorpoint, bicolor, mitted. The Ragdoll color pallet consists of seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, red and cream along with the tortoiseshell and lynx (or tabby) variations. Colorpoint Ragdolls have classic markings like the Siamese with no white anywhere on the body; mitted Ragdolls have white feet in the front looking like mittens and white to the hock on the backlegs looking like boots along with a possible white blaze on the face; bi-color Ragdolls have more white extending higher up the legs than on the mitteds, splashes of white on the back, a white underside and an inverted white V on the face.
The Ragdoll is one of the largest of the cat breeds and takes up to 4 years to reach full maturity. Fully developed males weigh from 15-20 pounds with the proportionately smaller females weigh from 10-15 pounds. These gentle cats have long, substantial bodies with sturdy boning to match. They have a sweet expression emphasized by the large eyes full of love and devotion. Their features are composed of soft curves and transitions with nothing extreme or exaggerated.
The Ragdoll's plush, silky coat requires little routine grooming, although it should be brushed or combed weekly with a steel comb to remove dead hair from their coats and separate any tangles. During shedding season, be sure to watch for some tangles under the armpits.
Health Issues Common to Ragdoll
All pedigreed cats have some sort of health problem, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
Ragdolls are generally healthy, but they have at least one hereditary health issue that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about who you buy from: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and it has been diagnosed in Ragdolls. It causes enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle. You may have heard that it is caused by poor nutrition, but that isn't true; the disease is hereditary. If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your Ragdoll, an echocardiogram conducted by a veterinary cardiologist can confirm whether he has HCM.
Researchers have identified the genetic mutation that causes the development of HCM in the Ragdoll and have developed a genetic test that allows breeders to screen cats before breeding them. Cats identified with HCM should be removed from breeding programs. Avoid breeders who claim to have HCM-free lines. No one can guarantee that their cats will never develop HCM.
Pet Insurance for Ragdoll
Pet insurance for purebred cats costs more than for mixed breed cats. This is because a purebred cat is more likely than a mixed breed cat to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace cat insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which purebred cats are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your cat is when he's a healthy kitten. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.