Ragatage Ragdolls

History

The Ragdoll breed was developed in California in the 1960s by a woman named Ann Baker. Although clear-cut criteria for defining Ragdolls obviously exists today, the history of this development is all but straightforward, with Baker alternately claiming that the original Ragdoll litter was an immaculate conception, imbued with human/alien hybrid genes and impervious to pain.

She also tried to establish a monopoly on the breed, insisting that all future Ragdoll breeders would pay franchise fees for the privilege. Ultimately, she was unable to maintain rights to exclusivity and the breeding circle subsequently grew larger.

For a more detailed history of the roots of the Ragdoll, see the British Ragdoll Cat Club (TBRCC) website.

Dagmar on platform

Characteristics

The Ragdoll is a large, lackadaisical cat with semi-long hair and blue eyes. They express three separate patterns of distinctive markings: point, mitted and bi-colour. Colourings range across four traditional groups (lilac, chocolate, seal and blue) but more recently newer colours, like red and tabby, are being explored and introduced. Colouring tends to be darker in colder climates. They are well-known for their laid-back, friendly nature and make wonderful pets.

In terms of stature, the Ragdoll is a solid, long-bodied cat with a long tail for balance and strong bone structure. They can grow quite large - especially the males - and this is often reflected in the big paws noticable in Rag kittens. Breed standard assures a broad, flat forehead that leads down to a medium-length nose. Of course, their most striking feature is their eyes, which can range from deep Sapphire to light China blue. It has been said that this very feature gives them an expression that is like no other cat. Because of a sensitivity to breeding over the years, the Ragdoll is considered to be quite a "balanced" cat, meaning that it tends not to have any extreme breed abnormalities.

"When all is said and done," writes Chris Powell, former Assistant Secretary of the British Ragdoll Cat Club, "the vast majority of Ragdoll kittens, as in any other breed, are sold as pets. Those who buy them don't really mind if the ear is set a little high, the nose is a little straight, the eyes aren't the deepest blue or the markings a little off centre. They want the temperament. For this is what the Ragdoll is most famous for...

"Ragdolls have a wonderfully gentle, laid back temperament and their popularity as the ideal house pet, totally devoted to their owners, has become legendary. As kittens, they are full of life and inquisitive. As they mature, they become very loving, trusting cats, who follow their owners everywhere.

Enzo 1

Their true colouring won't come in properly until they are one to two years old, when it will reach the deep rich hues evident in our adult breeding cats (see "Our Cats" page). Comparing them with some of the kitten images on the "Gallery" and "Kitten Availability" pages, you will notice a marked difference.

Take Ragatage Enzo ("Hamish" - pictured right), for example, who went to his new home in the Autumn of 2006 - quite a change from eleven weeks to ten months.

Indoor or outdoor?

This is a pretty loaded question in the world of Ragdoll breeding. Many breeders out there do not condone letting Ragdolls go outside, whereas we are on the fence where this issue is concerned. At the end of the day, there is no denying that safe access to an outside environment is enriching for ANY cat, Raggie or otherwise. All five of our 'house Rags' are avid hunters and revel in their outdoor lives. They do, however, show varying degrees of street smarts and danger awareness, which leads us to think that decisions about outdoor life should be made on a case by case basis. In our case, we live in an extremely rural setting with very few other people around and the road is a bumpy farm track that necessitates slow and careful driving. So for us it is an easy choice. The three girls tend to stick around the house and our neuter boys, Ru (pictured) and Calippo, both go a bit further afield.

It is very much a decision we are willing to leave in the hands of prospective owners. Questions need to be asked: Is our outdoor environment appropriate for play? Is it safe? Are we too near to a main road? Could there be a possibility that our Ragdoll might be stolen? We are happy to discuss the issue further with you to help you make the right choice about your Ragdoll's access to the great outdoors.

Saying all of this, Raggies are one of the breeds most suited to indoor life. We are very much relying on customers to decide themselves whether they feel their Raggie will be safe from harm and theft. A good decision in our minds is to either train your Raggie to the lead (they are very good at learning this trick!) or spend time out of doors with them. One thing to bear in mind with this last option, however, is that once they are used to an outdoor life, they will want more of it. Sometimes it might be a better choice to decide the answer is 'no' from the outset.

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Sociability

One thing we will not allow is for one of our Raggie babies to go to a home where s/he will be left alone for long periods of time - for instance if a prospective owner works long hours and has no other pets nor access to a safe outside environment for the cat.

Ragdolls are incredibly sociable creatures and need lots of stimulation in order to stay mentally healthy and alert. Long stretches of time on their own can lead to depression, aggression and/or beahvioural problems. Their eating and/or toiletting habits can become problematic and they can become very unhappy cats.

In past, we have sold Ragdolls as pairs to people who work full time and we've also sold one to a woman who worked full time but had a very large, walled garden. Luckily, those arrangements have worked but there is no guarantee. The most ideal Raggie home is a bustling one, where there will always be something interesting going on.

We do ask that people respect this advice and not try to hide or mask the truth - not only will the poor Raggie suffer depression being left on their own but the owner will also invariably suffer some or all of the unpleasant consequences mentioned above. If it's not the right fit, please just admire them from afar!

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