Ragdolls are large, laid-back, longhaired cats with captivating, widely-set, oval-to-slanted sapphire blue eyes. They have wedge-shaped heads with flat top skulls, well-developed chubby cheeks and rounded muzzles. Their noses are short and have a slight dip, or a stop, at the level of the eyes. Ragdolls have long, muscular bodies, broad chests, thick short necks, heavy legs, big round paws and stocky hindquarters. They also have especially bushy, soft tails. Males typically average from 15 to 20 pounds in weight, with females being somewhat smaller at maturity. In overall appearance, the Ragdoll is a well-balanced, beautiful cat with no one extreme or remarkably distinguishing physical attribute.
Ragdolls are a pointed breed that comes in a variety of colors and three distinct patterns. Ragdolls come in several color varieties: Seal, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac and, in some registries, Red and Cream. Pointed varieties can show lynx, tortie or torbie (lynx and tortie) patterning.
The Color Pointed variety is marked like the Siamese, with an ivory to beige body coat, especially on the belly and chest, and darker points about the ears, face, back, legs and tail. It has no discernible white anywhere on its body. The Mitted Ragdoll has color-pointed features together with distinct white "mittens" on its front paws. The front mittens are strongly preferred to be well-matched in size and shape and should not extend higher than the angle of the paw (or the "ankle break"). The white "boots" on the hind legs, called gauntlets, should continue all the way up to the level of the hocks. The Mitted Ragdoll's entire underbody is white, from tip to tail. This variety carries the dominant white spotting gene. The Mitted comes in all the base colors of the Color Pointed Ragdoll.
The third pattern, called the Bi-color, has white feet, legs, underbelly and lower neck, and a distinctive triangular white patch (or an inverted white "V") on the front of its face. Bi-colors can also have a limited amount of white splashed on the upper darker parts of its body, although the lower white should not extend highly into the darker pointed upper areas. The upside down white "V", which resembles a blaze, is an important feature of the Bi-color Ragdoll.
The Ragdoll's long coat is plush, silky and dense, with no undercoat. This makes it less prone to shedding and matting than many other semi-longhaired and longhaired breeds, although it certainly can shed during the warmer months. The fur around its neck and chest is longer than that on the rest of the body, giving it the impression of wearing a baby's bib. Ragdolls require regular grooming to maintain their delightfully fluffy appearance.
Ragdolls - which are sometimes referred to as Cherubims or Ragamuffins - were developed by Ann Baker, a cat fancier who lived in Riverside, California. All purebred Ragdolls in any cat registry descend from Ms. Baker's cats. According to reputable reports, in the early 1960s Ann Baker took in a domestic longhaired white female that she found running loose in her neighborhood. She named that cat "Josephine." Josephine mated with another free-roaming cat that Ms. Baker found or already owned. Unfortunately, Josephine apparently was involved in a serious automobile accident and was left with permanent injuries during her pregnancy. Nonetheless, and remarkably, she successfully delivered her litter of kittens, despite her disabilities.
Josephine's kittens had unusually placid temperaments and would become totally relax when picked up or petted. Starting in 1963, Ms. Baker selectively bred those kittens with other exclusively free-roaming or non-pedigreed cats that she owned or found and that had the look and temperament she wanted for her breeding program. Most authorities suspect that Burmese and Birman bloodlines played a roll in the Ragdoll's development somewhere along the line. Over years of selective breeding, Ms. Baker created and standardized the Ragdoll for its desirable traits, including large size, gentleness, luxurious coat and a unique tendency to go "limp as a ragdoll" when stroked or held.
The Ragdoll was granted recognition in the United States by the National Cat Fanciers' Association in 1965, and later gained approval by other national and international purebred cat registries. Great Britain recognized the breed in 1983, two years after it first arrived there. Today's Ragdoll is popular world-wide. Although still not particularly common, this is a unique American addition to the cat show fancy.
The Ragdoll is a slow-growing cat that can take 3 or 4 years to reach full maturity, size and coloration. It is predisposed to developing a cardiovascular condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is most prevalent in middle-aged and older males.
The Ragdoll is a docile, gentle, unusually relaxed animal with a decidedly even disposition. When socialized correctly from birth, they will be friendly and endearing members of the family. Ragdolls can be welcoming to strangers and love being held and snuggled by people of all ages. This breed tends to prefer the company of people more so than that of other pets. They normally are a good pet for young children, as they tolerate and appreciate affection and attention and typically can withstand a child's exploration and potentially unexpected behaviors. Nonetheless, Ragdolls generally prefer calm, rather than rowdy, living environments and are happiest housed entirely indoors. They are great companions for a modern, busy household.
As a breed, the Ragdoll is not an especially active animal. They tend to prefer being on the floor rather than jumping or leaping to high places. Still, these are playful cats that love attention.
In the early days of the Ragdoll breed, it earned the far-fetched reputation of being genetically insensitive to pain. The first Ragdoll kittens supposedly inherited this resistance to painful stimuli from their white longhaired mother, Josephine, who successfully gave birth to that litter despite being severely injured in an automobile accident. We now know that Ragdolls are not insensitive to pain. They do, however, have an unusual ability to become extremely relaxed, especially when being stroked lovingly or held by their owners or by others. Ragdolls are known for becoming "limp as a ragdoll" when they are picked up, which is the basis for the name of the breed. The Ragdoll's specialized temperament is probably due to the fact that the breed developed primarily or only from prearranged matings of cats with especially loving dispositions.
Ragdolls often run to greet their owners at the front door and have been known to learn to play fetch and come when called. They are gentle creatures and typically play without extending their claws.
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