If the term "ragdoll" brings to mind a scruffy creature who looks like he was put together with scraps, that's a completely inaccurate picture of the cat by that name. A relatively new breed, ragdoll cats are large, affectionate felines bred specifically as house cats. They'll go limp in your arms, like a big, furry doll. Because some of the basic feline instincts have been bred out of them, ragdolls should never go outside, except on a leash. These loving cats think everyone -- even a scary dog -- is just a friend they haven't met yet.
Riverside, California breeder Ann Baker created the ragdoll breed in the 1960s. She mated several free-roaming cats to produce the first litters. Baker looked for cats with good dispositions and a specific appearance for breeding purposes. The foundation cats were a longhaired white female named Josephine, a solid black male cat named "Blackie," and a seal point male with white mittens who went by "Daddy Warbucks." While Baker developed the breed, other ragdoll aficionados went on to establish the actual breed registry.
Ragdolls mature late, reaching their full growth between the age of 3 and 4. Expect a neutered male to weigh between 15 and 20 pounds by his 4th birthday, while a spayed female weighs between 10 and 15 pounds. These are big-boned, long-bodied felines.
Ragdoll Colors and Patterns
Ragdolls appear in several colors and patterns. All ragdolls have darker points on the legs, face and tail, similar to the Siamese or Himalayan. Acceptable colors include seal point, blue point, chocolate point, lilac point, cream point, red point, tortoiseshell and lynx. Patterns include colorpoint, with dark, well-defined points and no white. Mitted cats have white front and back feet, along with a white chin, white striping from the chin to the chest, continuing under the abdomen to the tail base. Bicolor ragdolls sport a lot of white in the coat, including the feet, chest, abdomen and an inverted "V" on the face. Ragdoll fur, more rabbit-like than feline, doesn't shed much but does require regular grooming.
Besides his beauty, the ragdoll's best selling point is his endearing, dog-like personality. He loves people, and wants to be part of the family. He gets along with other pets, whether canine or feline -- and possibly avian. Kids can dress him up in clothes or take him for walks in a baby carriage -- most ragdolls are fine with that. These laid-back kitties aren't much for jumping, so you probably won't have to chase him off the counter or other places you'd rather cats not go.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.