A Complete Breed Guide for the Ragdoll Cat

Last Updated September 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSC (Hons)

With their piercing blue eyes, sweet gentle nature, and easy-going personality, it's no wonder this gorgeous cat breed is the world's second most popular. The Ragdoll's smoochy, affectionate soul will melt any heart, and is well-suited to all households - from the elderly, to families with young children.


1. At a glance

2. History

3. Personality and Characteristics

4. Common Health Problems

5. Nutritional Requirements

Further reading

Facts about the Ragdoll

Place of origin: Life expectancy: Other names:
USA 14 to 15 years 'Raggies'
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
Medium Medium Colourpoint, mitted and bi-colour, with colour schemes including seal, chocolate, flame, blue, lilac, and cream
Coat type: Size: Coat markings:
Long, straight Female: 4.5 to 6.8kg, Male: 6.8kg to 9kg Light in colour on the body with dark colours on the ears, mask, legs and tail.
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Eye colour:
Medium High Blue

Ragdoll History

The Ragdoll is a relatively young breed. Developed in the 1960s in California, USA, the breed came about when breeder Ann Baker crossed a white domestic longhair female with various other longhaired cats - some which she owned and some found in her neighborhood. The white female possessed genes for a seal mitted or black tuxedo pattern, and many of her kittens were born with 'points' similar to a Himalayan. Baker specifically selected for cats with gentle, placid personalities, and chose the name 'Ragdoll' due to their propensity to flop happily when picked up.

Ann created a breeding programme, but due to her eccentricity - including making unusual claims about aliens and the CIA being involved in the development of the breed - other breeders broke away and developed the breed independently.

Personality and characteristics

Ragdolls are notoriously docile, gentle, affectionate, and easy going. You'd be hard pressed to find a more tolerant, chilled out breed. They are known for being laid-back and great with children, due to their ability to sense a child's boisterous energy and respond either playfully, or running away when things get too rough.

The Ragdoll is a cat breed who loves being around humans, and will usually tolerate being picked up and carried around. They are famous for 'going floppy' when picked up, which is due to their innate trust and relaxation around their humans. They are also known for greeting their owners at the door and cuddling up in bed. The more love and affection you show your Ragdoll, the more love you will receive.

Ragdolls are laid-back and not keen on hunting, nor are they very street-savvy. For these reasons, Ragdolls are best kept indoors only.

Despite their chilled-out personality, Ragdolls are very intelligent and can be taught tricks - from learning to walk on a lead to playing fetch and rolling over.

Top toys and accessories for Ragdoll cats

Catit Senses Wave Circuit

Ideal for playful intelligent cats like the Ragdoll, the Catit Senses Wave Circuit is interactive and will keep any indoor cat entertained for hours.

Gigwi Melody Chaser Bird

This convincing bird toy makes realistic bird noises when touched to tap into your cat's inner hunting instincts.

Cat Harnesses

Due to their intelligence and ability to be trained, the Ragdoll is the perfect cat for teaching how to walk on a lead and harness.

Go Cat Go Teaser Snakey

Teasers can help your cat exercise their body and mind. The fluffy streamers on these teasers help kick in their natural instincts and encourage play.

Can't decide on a toy? Why not let us choose for you with the Curious Box? Each Curious Box contains a selection of two to three engaging toys ( and treats!) Even better, the theme changes every 6 weeks, making it the perfect way to keep your cat's supply of toys and treats fresh, fun, and varied!

Ragdoll Health concerns

Ragdolls are fairly healthy, but they can be predisposed to a few health conditions including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, urinary stones, and polycystic kidney disease.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a condition where the muscular walls of the heart thicken excessively, reducing its ability to pump blood effectively resulting in heart failure. Although the underlying cause of HCM is not always clear, genetics do appear to be a factor in some cases.

Signs of heart failure may not be apparent in the early stages of the disease, however as the condition progresses and the heart function deteriorates signs of heart failure such as rapid breathing or loss of appetite or other complications may develop. In most cases HCM is first detected at routine health checks when the veterinarian is able to hear an additional heart sound (murmur) or abnormal rhythm. An ultrasound of the heart is then used to confirm the diagnosis and gauge the severity. While there is no cure for HCM the symptoms and progression may be managed with medication.

Bladder Stones

Bladder stones, or 'uroliths', are an accumulation of mineral sediment in the urine. Uroliths can be formed from a number of different types of minerals, including magnesium struvite, calcium oxalate, ammonium urate, and cysteine. A buildup of crystals in the urine leads to the formation of stones, which can cause blockages and discomfort. Some urinary stones can be dissolved with nutrition, but others may need to be surgically removed.

Ragdolls are particularly prone to stones made from calcium oxalate. These stones tend to form in acidic urine, and can cause symptoms such as straining to urinate, bloody urine, urinating in strange places, and licking the genitals. Unlike other types of stones, calcium oxalate stones cannot be dissolved with nutrition and surgery is required.

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a disease where cysts form in the kidney, disrupting its normal function and leading to kidney failure. It is known to have a genetic linkage in Ragdoll cats and can be screened for using genetic testing. While PKD is an autosomal dominant trait, meaning that all cats with the gene are affected, there does appear to be varying degrees of severity. When purchasing a Ragdoll kitten from a breeder, it's a good idea to ask if the parents have been screened for PKD and if there is any history of the disease in their kittens.

Ragdoll Nutrition

What is the best food for a Ragdoll? As this fluffy breed is best suited to a less-active indoor lifestyle, it's best to feed a 'light' or 'indoor' formula to prevent them from any unwanted weight gain. These guys will also benefit from a formula cat food with extra skin support, to keep their coat glossy and silky.

Feeding regular wet food meals along with dry kibble is a simple way to increase your Ragdoll's water intake to ensure adequate hydration and help support urinary tract health.

Nutrition for adult Ragdolls

Advance Sensitive Skin & Digestion

This Australian made formula contains nutrients to support the skin, while being lower in calories to help prevent weight gain.

Royal Canin Adult Ragdoll

This premium dry food is made specifically for Ragdoll cats. It contains EPA, DHA and borage oil to help maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat and is also enriched with taurine and omega 3 fatty acids to support healthy heart function.

Hill's Science Diet Feline Indoor Cat

This premium quality, highly digestible formula contains a unique blend of ingredients designed to support the maintenance of a healthy weight in indoor cats.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Sea

This all natural, limited ingredient food for cats is made with salmon and menhaden fish meal, so it's naturally high in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny, lush coat.

Wet foods for Ragdoll Cats

Advance Feline Wet Varieties

Made in Australia, these premium quality canned cat food recipes are packed with nutrition designed to support your adult cat's health and vitality.

Royal Canin Intense Beauty Sachets

With an appealing chunks in jelly texture, this wet food contains targeted nutrition for healthy skin and an extra lush, shiny coat.

Ziwi Feline Canned Varieties

Rich in free range New Zealand meats, sustainably sourced fish and green lipped mussel, Ziwi canned foods are packed with natural, wholesome nutrition to suit all adult cats.

Hill's Science Diet Feline Wet Varieties

These high quality wet cat food formulas are easily digested and contain proven nutrition to support your cat's health and wellbeing.