The Breed History
For this recently developed breed there is a considerable lack of consensus as to the exact origins of early progenitors. What is proposed is that in the 1960s this breed arose in California as a result of a breeder starting with two foundation males, Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks and another she called Blackie. Both of these were offspring of Josephine, a white (Persian or Turkish Angora type) cat; Warbucks and Blackie were fathered by two different sires. Those sires continue to be an unknown, with one theory reporting that it was a Persian that had Birman type markings and others saying the white Persian was crossed with a seal point Birman in one of the progenitor crosses, and that this offspring was bred with a sable Burmese. The coat texture does not match Persian cats, so at some point it is likely either Birman or Burmese, or perhaps both were crossed with the white Persian-type, or perhaps this occurred at another point in breed development.
The Ragdoll name derives from the tendency to be calm, resulting in relaxed muscle tone when handled. They have become a popular breed. In TICA, 2002 registration numbers topped 23000 and this breed was fourth in popularity in that registry behind Maine Coon, Persian, and the Bengal. In CFA, recent registration placed this breed twelfth in popularity with much smaller numbers registered (761). No outcrosses are allowed in CFA. The FiFe recognized the breed in 1992 and the GCCF in 1991. The Ragamuffin is a more recently developed breed of cats that utilized some Ragdoll influence in development. Though the Ragdoll breed has a resemblance to the Birman, the latter is a smaller cat, is produced in only the mitted pattern and possesses a less angulated face.
Weight: Female 10-14 lb (4.5-6 kg), male 12-20 lb (5.5-9 kg)
Coat patterns include:
Pointed: Colorpoint is accepted in CFF in Siamese colors of chocolate, seal, lilac and blue. The CFA adds red and cream. The TICA registry adds others such as cinnamon, and fawn. Hairs may be solid, shaded, or smoke; points solid, lynx, tortie.
Van: Ears, tail and upper mask pigmented, ideally the rest of the cat is white though up to 20% body colored is accepted in CFA. This pattern can be shown in CFA.
Mitted: (white on forefeet to carpus-gloving gene), on rear limbs up and over the hock (gauntlet) and white at ruff and chin (not shown in CFA, but are registered)
Bi-color: (inverted moderately symmetrical V mask on forehead, in white, that includes whisker pads and extends contiguously under chin, chest, along underside). White feet are mitted due to the gloving gene. The color of the point of the ears determines the assigned coat color. This pattern may be shown in CFA.
Haircoat: The semi-long haircoat is fine and glossy. Hair is shorter on head and forelimbs. Some describe the coat as having a minimal wooly undercoat (CFA profile), but other sources describe the coat as single. This coat is described as "rabbit fur" in texture because it is so fine. The coat can take up to two years to mature. Body color can be deeper than in the traditional colorpoint breeds. Coat color tends to darken with age.
Eyes: Blue-vivid, moderately large sized, oval.
Points of Conformation: These are large cats, heavy-set build both in fore and rear. A modified wedge shaped medium sized skull, full muzzle and a medium to short straight nose, and wide set ears are medium - large sized with rounded tips. Paws are large, round, and body musculature is well developed. Tail is long and bushy and tapers slightly. Legs are long, with hind limbs being longer than the forelegs.
Grooming: These cats have low tendency to mat. They have low-moderate grooming needs. They have a moderate shedding tendency only. A steel comb or other tool can be used gently twice a week.
Recognized Behavior Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Very quiet cats, affectionate, extremely docile, playful, and enjoy human contact. Reduced hunting and fighting instincts are apparently selected for in a typical Ragdoll cat. Name derives from their tendency to be very placid and relax when handled (though they do not "flop", or lose all muscle tone). Some may follow people around and are sociable with children and other pets. Adaptable, and will leash train easily. Excellent pets in households with seniors, other pets and children. Not much for climbing and jumping around the home, more accurately a lap cat. They are also soft voiced cats. Good for apartment life.
Normal Breed Variations
Tend to obesity so need to watch caloric intake Slow to mature (takes three to four years)
B Blood Type: Ragdoll cats tested as part of a survey in the UK were found to be 28.6% blood type B, though the number of cats of this breed tested was very small (n=7).
Ragdoll Kitten Information Project: An internet based survey was carried out to determine breed normal reproductive parameters.
232 litters, 121 litters, total kittens, 1,030
Average litter size 4.4
Stillbirth rate 5%
Average birth weight: Male 101 g female 96 g
Congenital deformities, in 8.5% of litters: included cleft palate, split eyelid
The long hair phenotype in cats is a recessive so how it is distributed in the different longhaired breeds, and coded for is of interest.
Mutation (AM412646:c.194C>A) Somali, Persian, Maine Coon, Ragdoll.
None reported in the literature
Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): HCM is the most common cardiac condition in cats (10% prevalence). The only sign may be sudden death; also associated with arterial thromboembolisms. A severe early onset form of HCM was identified in a retrospective study group of 10 Ragdoll cats (1997-1999). Cats were young (5 months to 2 years; mean age 15 months), and had severe concentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Six were in heart failure, the other 4 were asymptomatic. Seven of 10 cats were male. Most had interventricular septal hypertrophy, a bit less than half of the group had systolic anterior motion of the mitral valve, and in 7 cats, average left atrial systolic dimension was 1.97 cm; aortic root dimension was less than 0.85 cm in the same cats. Eight of ten cats had a systolic murmur upon auscultation.
A novel MYBPC3 mutation has been found in Ragdoll cats. This mutation is in a different domain than that of the Maine Coon cat (see that chapter for more details). Two distinct and separate mutations in this gene have been identified in unrelated breeds so this is not likely a founder effect, but rather a novel mutation.
Arterial Thromboembolism: Ragdoll cats were overrepresented (odds ratio 14.4) in a population of 127 affected cats in a retrospective study of records done at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (1992-2001). Most cats in the study had left atrial enlargement.
Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis: In one case control study from the University of Minnesota Urolith Center (1981-1997), it was reported that Ragdoll cats had an increased risk of developing this type of uroliths.
FIP Susceptibility: An American Study found that Ragdoll cats were significantly over-represented for a diagnosis of FIP when they analyzed data for a 16 year period at a veterinary teaching hospital.
Rare and Isolated Reports
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): Is most common in Persian breeds and those breeds having out-crossed to Persians in their breeding programs. In screening programs carried out at University of California at Davis in 2002, a small group of Ragdoll cats was checked in a study (Clinic 3); two of 11 cats were positive for PKD; assessed by ultrasound screening of healthy cats from catteries.
Though data are limited on prevalence breed-wide, ultrasound screening (annual) of breeding cats for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy starting before one year of age is recommended. A genetic test for HCM is available from UC-Davis VGL and NC State Meurs Lab.
Blood type cats before transfusion or mating would be prudent-but this is also based on limited breed-wide data.
- Breed name synonyms: Rag, Mitted Cat, Josephine's Daughter, Daughters of Josephine, Cherubim, Doll.
- Registries: FIFe, TICA, ACFA, CFF, ACF, GCCF, WCF, CCA, NZCF, CFA
- Breed resources: Ragdoll Fanciers Club International: rfci.org/
Ragdoll International (TICA): ragdollinternational.org/
Ragdoll Fanciers Worldwide Club: rfwclub.org/
The British Ragdoll Cat Club: tbrcc.co.uk/
Ragdoll Connection Network: ragdoll-cats.com/
Ragdolls of America Group: ragdollscfa.org/about_rag.shtml
Ragdoll Breed Club (CFA): ragdollbreedclub.org
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