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Ragdoll cat
OriginCalifornia, United States
Breed standards
Domestic cat (Felis catus)

The Ragdoll is a breed of cat with a distinct colorpoint coat and blue eyes. Its morphology is large and weighty, and it has a semi-long and silky soft coat. American breeder Ann Baker developed Ragdolls in the 1960s. They are best known for their docile, placid temperament and affectionate nature. The name 'Ragdoll' is derived from the tendency of individuals from the original breeding stock to go limp and relaxed when picked up.[1] The breed is particularly popular in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ragdolls are often known as "dog-like cats" or "puppy-like cats", due to their tendency to follow people around, their receptiveness to handling, and their relative lack of aggression towards other pets.[2]

Ragdolls are distinguishable by their pointed coloration (where the body is lighter than the face, ears, legs, and tail), large round blue eyes, soft, thick coats, thick limbs, long tails, and soft bodies. Their color rings are commonly tricolor or bicolor.[3]


Bicolour Ragdoll cat

The breed was developed in Riverside, California, by breeder Ann Baker. A regular, non-pedigreed, white domestic longhaired cat named Josephine produced several litters of typical cats.[4] Josephine was not of any particular breed, nor were the males who sired the original litters. Ann Baker herself said that the original cats of the Ragdoll breed were "alley cats".[5] Josephine later produced kittens with a docile, placid temperament, affectionate nature, and a tendency to go limp and relaxed when picked up.[6]

Out of those early litters came Blackie, an all-black male, and Daddy Warbucks, a seal point with white feet. Daddy Warbucks sired the founding bi-color female Fugianna, and Blackie sired Buckwheat, a dark brown/black Burmese-like female. Both Fugianna and Buckwheat were daughters of Josephine. All Ragdolls are descended from Baker's cats through matings of Daddy Warbucks to Fugianna and Buckwheat.[7][8]

Baker, in an unusual move, spurned traditional cat breeding associations. She trademarked the name Ragdoll, set up her own registry – the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) – around 1971, and enforced stringent standards on anyone who wanted to breed or sell cats under that name.[6] The Ragdolls were also not allowed to be registered by other breed associations.[9][10] The IRCA is still in existence today but is quite small, particularly since Baker's death in 1997.

In 1975, a group led by a husband-and-wife team, Denny and Laura Dayton, broke ranks with the IRCA to gain mainstream recognition for the Ragdoll. Beginning with a breeding pair of IRCA cats, this group eventually developed the Ragdoll standard currently accepted by major cat registries such as the CFA and the FIFe.[11] Around the time of the spread of the Ragdoll breed in America during the early 1960s, a breeding pair of Ragdolls was exported to the UK. Eight more cats followed this pair to fully establish the breed in the UK, where the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy recognizes it.[12]

Breed description[edit]


Ragdoll with blue eyes
A flame (red) point ragdoll

The Ragdoll has been known to have a very floppy and calm nature, with claims that these characteristics have been passed down from the Persian and Birman breeds. Opinions vary as to whether this trait might be the result of genetic mutation or merely an instinctive reaction from being picked up as kittens by their mother.[13][14][15] The extreme docility of some individuals has led to the myth that Ragdolls are pain resistant. Some breeders in Britain have tried to breed away from the limpness owing to concerns that extreme docility 'might not be in the best interests of the cat'.[13][16]

Breed standard marketing and publicity material describe the Ragdoll as affectionate, intelligent, relaxed in temperament, gentle, and an easy-to-handle lap cat.[17][18] The animals are often known as 'puppy cats', 'dog-like cats', 'cat-dogs', etc., because of their placid nature and affectionate behavior, with the cats often following owners from room to room as well as seeking physical affection akin to certain dog breeds. Ragdolls can be trained to retrieve toys and enjoy doing so. They have a very playful nature that often lasts well into their senior years.[19] Unlike many other breeds, Ragdolls prefer staying low to the ground rather than the highest point in the household.[20]

Physical characteristics[edit]

The Ragdoll is one of the largest domesticated cat breeds. Fully-grown females weigh from 8 to 15 pounds (3.6 to 6.8 kg). Males are substantially larger, ranging from 12 to 20 pounds (5.4 to 9.1 kg) or more.[6] It can take up to four years for a Ragdoll to reach mature size.[8] They have a sturdy body, bulky frame, and proportionate legs. Their heads are broad with a flat top and wide space between the ears. They have long, muscular bodies with broad chests and short necks. Their tails are bushy and long in length, their paws are large, round, and tufted, and their coats are silky, dense, and medium to long length. Due to their coats tending to be long, they usually require brushing at least twice a week.[21] Adults develop knickerbockers on their hind legs and a ruff around their necks.

The breed is often known for its large round deep blue eyes,[22][23] though other cats may have that feature as well.[24] The genes for point coloration are also responsible for these distinctive blue eyes. More intense shades of blue are favored in cat shows.

Male ragdoll cat with blue eyes.
Ragdoll cats have distinctive large round blue eyes

Although the breed has a plush coat, it consists mainly of long guard hairs, while the lack of a dense undercoat results, according to the Cat Fanciers' Association, in 'reduced shedding and matting'.[25] But there may be a noticeable increase of shedding in the spring.[26]

Ragdolls come in six distinct colors: seal, chocolate, red, and the corresponding 'dilutes': blue, lilac, and cream. There also are the lynx and tortoiseshell variations[27] in all colors and the three patterns. Black is considered a very rare color in Ragdoll cats. Ragdoll kittens are born white: they have good color at 8–10 weeks and full color and coat at 3–4 years.


  • Colorpoint – One color darkening at the extremities (nose, ears, tail, and paws),
  • Mitted – Same as pointed but with white paws and abdomen. With or without a blaze (a white line or spot on the face), they must have a 'belly stripe' (white stripe that runs from the chin to the genitals) and a white chin. Mitted Ragdolls, which weren't allowed titling in CFA until the 2008–2009 show season, are often confused with Birmans. The easiest way to tell the difference is by size (the Ragdoll being larger) and chin color (Mitted Ragdolls have white chins,[28] while Birmans have colored chins), although breeders recognize the two by head shape and boning.[29]
  • Bicolor – White legs, white inverted V on the face, white abdomen, and sometimes white patches on the back (excessive amounts of white, or 'high white', on a bicolor are known as the Van pattern, although this does not occur as often as the other patterns).


A 16-year-old female tortoiseshell Ragdoll
  • Lynx – A variant of the colorpoint type having tabby markings.[30] This variation always comes with white ear lines, no matter the pattern.
  • Tortoiseshell or "tortie" – A variant noted for mottled or parti-colored[31] markings in the above patterns. Despite the majoritively white coat, tortie points are not calico, as the calico gene is separate and not present in colorpoints.[32][33]


One study, utilizing Swedish insurance data, showed that of the common cat breeds, the Ragdoll and Siamese have the lowest survival rate. With 78% odds of survival to 10 years.[34] An English study of patient records found a life expectancy of 10.1 years.[35] In a review of over 5,000 cases of urate urolithiasis the Ragdoll was over-represented, with an odds ratio of 5.14.[36] An English study reviewing over 190,000 patient records found the Ragdoll to be less likely to acquire diabetes mellitus than mixed breed cats. The prevalence in Ragdolls was 0.24% compared to 0.58% overall.[37]

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy[edit]

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common heart disease in all cats and is most commonly genetic in cause. The disease causes thickening of the cardiac wall, which makes the heart pump blood less efficiently. It can, in some instances, lead to sudden death. In Ragdolls that are homozygous positive for the disease (having two copies of the HCM gene), the condition can present early (as young as six months) and tends to be severe, with most cats dying by age 3. Heterozygous (one copy of HCM gene) cats tend to have later onset and slower progression of the disease, with less severe impact.[38][39]

A DNA test was developed in 2007 to identify the gene that causes HCM in Ragdolls. Breeding only from Ragdolls that are free from this gene (homozygous negative) will ensure that they will not develop the form of HCM associated with it.[38][39]

The allelic frequencies of the Ragdoll HCM mutation R820W were 0.17 in cats from Italy and 0.23 in cats from the US in 2013.[40] This reference states that the R820W prevalence is 30% in UK.[41] The HCM prevalence was found to be 2.9% (95% CI = 2.7–8.6%) in this study.[40]


  1. ^ Becker, Marty; Spadafori, Gina (16 September 2006). Why Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?: 101 of the Most Perplexing Questions ... – Marty Becker, Gina Spadafori – Google Books. Health Communications, Incorporated. ISBN 9780757305733. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
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  13. ^ a b Understanding Cat Behavior: The Complete Feline Problem Solver Roger Tabor (2003). P 33.
  14. ^ Do cats always land on their feet Gina Spadafori, Marty Becker
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  16. ^ The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health Linda P. Case, Kerry Helms, Bruce Macallister (2003). P 31.
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  18. ^ Ragdoll Breed standard Cat Fanciers' Association
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  33. ^ "Calico Ragdoll Cat – Can Ragdolls Have Calico Coloring?". thehappycatsite.com. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  34. ^ Egenvall, A.; Nødtvedt, A.; Häggström, J.; Ström Holst, B.; Möller, L.; Bonnett, B. N. (2009). "Mortality of Life-Insured Swedish Cats during 1999–2006: Age, Breed, Sex, and Diagnosis". Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 23 (6): 1175–1183. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2009.0396.x. PMC 7167180. PMID 19780926.
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