Facts and Myths
A Brief History of the Coming of Ragdolls
Much has already been written about Ragdolls, but through this page we
shall attempt to share what we have learnt about this wonderful breed.
There has been much debate and some mystery surrounding the beginnings
of the Ragdoll breed. However it is generally accepted that Ragdolls originated
in the USA in 1963, with a litter of kittens born to Josephine, a white
angora cat, who had been mated by two males, a Birman and a Burmese. The
resulting offspring were large, extremely docile and relaxed. Anne Baker
used these kittens as the foundation for her breeding programme, which
produced the Ragdoll cat we are familiar with today.
The breed first came to Britain in March 1981 when Pat Brownsell and
the late Lulu Rowley each imported a pair of Blossom Time Ragdolls, from
Laura and Denny Dayton, American breeders, who did much important research
and documentation on the breed. The first Ragdoll kittens to be bred in
Britain were in fact born in quarantine to Blossom Time Lass and Lad.
By 1982, Lulu, who bred under the Petil-Lu prefix and Pat, who bred Patriarca
Ragdolls had imported 12 Blossom Time Ragdolls and had begun establishing
the breed in Britain. However, it was not until March 1990 that the Ragdoll
was recognised by The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) and this
was mainly as a result of the commitment and determination of Sue Ward-Smith,
the founder of Pandapaws Ragdolls.
The Ragdoll cat is a delightful breed with a gentle, loving nature. They
are said to be the largest of all domesticated cats with neutered males
sometimes weighing up to 20lbs. Ragdolls are slow to mature and so they
do not reach their full size or obtain their final coat quality and colouration,
until they are about four years old. When mature, Ragdolls have thick,
silky, semi-longhaired coats with a gorgeous neck ruff and knickerbockers
on their hind legs. Ragdolls have beautiful blue eyes, ranging from deep
sapphire to a less desirable for show purposes, but all the same adorable,
The recognised colours in the Ragdoll breed are seal, blue, chocolate
and lilac, although the latter two are now extremely rare in the UK since
genetically they are difficult to produce. Recently red, cream and tortie
Ragdolls, along with the Tabby (lynx) Ragdolls, arrived in the UK from
the US. In June 2003 the Red and Tabby series Ragdoll received champion
status from the GCCF. The striped pattern of the Tabby Ragdoll can be
overlaid onto any of the above colours and the three recognised patterns.
The three recognised patterns in the Ragdoll are colourpointed, mitted
and Bi-colour and can be overlaid with any of the above colours.
Ragdolls are famous for their laid back nature and ‘floppiness,’
but while it is fair to say they do generally have a more relaxed nature
than many breeds,
they are not necessarily floppy and our own experience tells us this.
Our blue mitted girl, Tiffany, has a loving nature and is generally 'laid
back' in her attitude, but she does not ‘flop’ in our arms
when we pick her up. In fact she usually dislikes lying on her back and
while we have never tried it, we are certain she would refuse to be held
hanging down like some of the early photos of Ragdolls show. Chloe, our
seal mitted girl, also has a loving, gentle nature and she does enjoy
lying back in our arms. It is worth remembering that Ragdolls
cats are not ‘designer cats and each has its own individual personality,
which should be respected and nurtured. Like all cats, Ragdolls, when
held. want to feel secure in your arms and if they do not they will struggle
to get away. In addition it needs to be noted here that Ragdolls do not
have any muscle or bone deformity that make them floppy or relaxed, they
have the same anatomy and physiology as any other feline. In our opinion
the early hype that surrounded the breed in the USA and the images of
cats being thrown around and held like dollies, to prove how relaxed they
were, was irresponsible and has, in some cases, damaged the reputation
of the breed.
While we are dispersing myths the idea that Ragdolls do not feel pain
must be mentioned. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest
that Ragdolls have a different nervous system to any other breed of cat
and so their pain mechanisms must be the same. Ragdoll cats DO feel pain
and should be afforded the same care and respect as any other living being.
Ragdolls do have a tendency to get under your feet and on occasions, in
our household, this has led to the end of a tail or a stray paw being
accidentally trodden on and our Ragdolls have left us in no doubt that
they felt it!
There is much said about the non-matting coat of the Ragdoll and therefore
the limited need for grooming. While many Ragdolls do have coats that
seem to stay matt free, it is true to say that others will have coats
that do matt. Regular grooming, with a suitable brush and comb, for all
Ragdolls is essential to maintain a clear, silky coat. Grooming removes
dead, loose fur, which reduces the risk of the formation of fur balls
and goes someway to limiting moulting onto furniture and carpets! Grooming
is a good way to bond with a new kitten and get it used to being handled
and is important in maintaining a good relationship with an older cat.
Furthermore establishing a good grooming routine gives the opportunity
to check for fleas, look at the cats teeth, ears and to generally check
the cat for any lumps or bumps which may be developing.
Ragdolls are docile and trusting, which makes their little personalities
even more endearing, but unfortunately means that they are not the most
‘street wise’ cats on the block. Ragdolls have no road sense
at all and will lie in the road, expecting a car to stop for them, rather
than recognising the danger. The chances are that a Ragdoll left to roam
outside will have a very short life expectancy. Bearing this in mind they
should be kept as indoor cats or taken outside on a suitable harness,
with full supervision. In our experience, Ragdolls are happy to stay in,
as they crave human company and are quite happy following their human
around the house. Furthermore keeping your cat in protects them from exposure
to fatal viruses such as FELV and FIV, which are spread from cat to cat
via urine, faeces and other body fluids.
To us, Ragdolls are the cream of the feline world. Since we first discovered
them we have been captivated by their beauty and exquisite nature. They
have brought us immeasurable happiness and we are well and truly under
their spell. We can no longer imagine our lives without Ragdolls in them
and we look forward to sharing many more years with these beautiful cats.
For more information about Ragdoll cats and for impartial advice on seeking a kitten and Ragdoll care, please visit the UKRCC