A Guide to the Ragdoll Cat

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

22 September 2016

ragdoll cat breed profile infographic


The aptly-named Ragdoll is a relatively new cat breed, developed in the 1960s by Ann Baker. All cats of this breed are descended from a single, floppy feline named Josephine and her children. Before her death, Ann Baker made a number of bizarre claims about Josephine, including that she was a fusion of cat, human and alien DNA. There’s at least a little truth to it - Ragdolls are definitely out of this world.


We’ll start with the obvious: the Ragdoll is big. It is one of the biggest domestic cats there is, with the males weighing as much as 9kg! In fact, big describes pretty much everything about this breed. They have a big-boned body, chunky paws and large blue eyes. Big is beautiful, and this cat is no exception.

Even their coat is long and luxurious, and comes in a huge variety of colours and patterns. Your cat might be cream, lilac, blue, seal, chocolate or red. It might be pointed, mitted, high-mitted, bicolour or lynx patterned. If your head is spinning from all these possibilities, some cuddles with your nearest Ragdoll should help.


What’s in a name? If we’re talking about the Ragdoll, a lot. This cat has a unique tendency to go completely limp when picked up. Really, this breed flat-out knows how to relax. It’ll appreciate having a nice comfortable spot to lounge, and takes particularly well to scratching posts - without one it will rarely extend its claws.

This cat breed is incredibly calm and so tolerant that it was rumoured to be immune to pain (this is absolutely not true though, be kind to your kitty!). Because of this, the Ragdoll makes a great pet for apartments, and families with children and dogs. Be careful though, dogs may adopt your cat as one of their own, given its love of following you around, playing fetch, and receiving pats.


Did we mention the Ragdoll is big? It’s a big cat. And big cats need some special care:

  • Support your cat’s hind legs when holding it - leaving them dangling can hurt its back
  • Buy your cat a large litter box and bath - big cats need space to move
  • Feed your cat appropriately - Ragdolls grow until the age of four, so give them food appropriate to their size. And don’t worry, a little fat on their belly is perfectly normal, and perfectly adorable too.

Comb your Ragdoll’s silky coat twice a week to prevent matting, as part of a general grooming routine. Both you and your cat will appreciate the bonding experience. Long haired breeds also need the occasional bath and occasional, erm, butt cleaning with some wet wipes.

Because of their size, this breed is more likely to suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can cause death in the first three years of life - however, this can be screened for in kittens, and you should ensure your breeder does so. Additionally, this cat is often affected by inbreeding and is at greater risk of illness: particularly urinary problems (such as bladder stones) and feline peritonitis. Their life expectancy is 10-12 years.


This breed is what’s known as semi-long-haired, and does not produce as many allergens as cats with a thick undercoat. However, if just the word ‘allergens’ had you sniffling, we recommend looking at another breed.

Suggested Names

The Ragdolls cuddly appearance might have you leaning towards something like ‘Puff’ or ‘Snuggles’, but we think its lordly demeanour lends itself to more regal names. Here are our suggestions:

  • Henry
  • Elizabeth
  • Charles
  • Mary
  • Zeus

If you still need convincing, let us help you fall in love with the Ragdoll; or maybe you want a more energetic kitty? It’s okay, we won’t judge. Find the cat that’s right for you here.


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