7 Facts About Ragdoll Cats

iStock/Angela Kotsell
iStock/Angela Kotsell

The Ragdoll cat can be described in three words: big, beautiful, and friendly. With silky, medium-length fur that's similar to a Persian or Angora and the sizable body—and affable personality—of a small puppy, the Ragdoll is a favorite breed among cat fanciers. Here are eight facts about America’s second most popular cat breed.

1. THEY'RE LAP CATS.

Ragdolls thrive on human companionship, and, unlike some other felines, they love being held. In fact, the breed supposedly got its name because early litters of the docile, friendly cat became limp and floppy like rag dolls when they were picked up. 

2. IT'S A RELATIVELY NEW BREED.


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Ann Baker, a breeder who lived in California during the 1960s, is credited with creating the Ragdoll. Baker took a domestic longhaired white female that was found running wild in her neighborhood, and bred her with another long-haired cat. The resulting kittens were the progenitors of the Ragdoll breed. By selecting for traits like a friendly personality and long, plush fur, Baker eventually produced the big, soft kitty we know and love today.

One of the cats in the original Ragdoll bloodline may have had Siamese-like markings, or Baker mated that first cat with Birman, Burmese, or Persian cats. However, since nobody quite knows which cat breeds Baker used to create the Ragdoll, the origin of the breed’s classic color-pointed coat (a term that’s used to describe a body that’s lighter than its “points,” including the face, legs, tail, and ears) remains a bit of a mystery.

3. RAGDOLLS HAVE BEAUTIFUL BLUE EYES (BUT COME IN MANY SHADES AND COLORS).

Aside from its plush fur and large body, the Ragdoll is known for its bright blue eyes and color-pointed coat. Ragdolls also come in a variety of shades, ranging from seal (brown) and blue to red and cream. Variations like tortoiseshell and tabby markings are also common. Ragdolls come in several patterns, including colorpoint (no white on their coat), bicolor, and mitted (meaning they have white “mittens” on their paws). They're born pale, and their coats gradually darken into their permanent hues as they grow older.

4. THEY ARE ONE OF THE LARGEST CAT BREEDS.


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According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), male Ragdolls typically weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, and females between 10 and 15 pounds. That makes them slightly larger than other feline heavyweights like the Maine Coon, which can weigh up to 18 pounds, and the Norwegian Forest Cat, which can weigh up to 16 pounds.

5. RAGDOLLS ARE QUIET KITTIES.

Ragdolls are affable and quiet kitties. Thanks to this trait, Realtor.com named them as one of the best cat breeds for apartment living. However, this trait also has a downside: Your Ragdoll may not meow if it’s distressed or in pain—so make sure to treat it with care. 

6. A RAGDOLL WAS THE WORLD'S LONGEST-LIVING "JANUS CAT."

A feline born with two faces is called a Janus cat—a name that’s inspired by the Roman god Janus, who is often portrayed as having two faces. The world’s most famous two-faced cat, Frank and Louie (also known as Frankenlouie) was a Ragdoll. He had two functioning eyes, a blind central eye, two noses, and two mouths.

Frankenlouie’s deformity was caused by a very rare congenital condition known as diprosopia. He wasn’t expected to live very long, but a woman named Marty Stevens rescued him from being put down. Frankenlouie lived for an astounding 15 years before he passed away in 2014. Thanks to his long lifespan, Frankenlouie is listed in the Guinness Book as the longest-lived Janus cat.

7. RAGDOLLS ARE "DOG-LIKE" CATS.

Ever wanted a pet that will play fetch with you, follow you from room to room, and sleep with you in your bed? If you’re allergic to dogs (or you’re just partial to cats), consider a Ragdoll. "They can be more like dogs than cats sometimes," one Quora user wrote. "My cats greet me at the door, follow me from room to room, cuddle up next to me on the couch and in bed, wait outside while I take a shower ... etc., etc. They love stuffed animals and little toys which they will carry from room to room. One of them even plays fetch. If you are looking for a more independent animal, the Ragdoll is not for you; they demand and need a LOT of attention and play."

Additional Source: The Cat Encyclopedia: The Definite Visual Guide

This article originally ran in 2016.

A Python Swallowed a Crocodile Whole—and a Photographer Was There to Capture It All

KarenHBlack/iStock via Getty Images
KarenHBlack/iStock via Getty Images

As long as it can fit through their elastic jaws, there's not much pythons won't eat. This genus of snakes has been known to swallow everything from small bears to porcupines. As Live Science reports, a python was recently spotted eating a crocodile in Australia—and the disturbing encounter was caught on camera.

On May 31, 2019, the Australian nonprofit GG Wildlife Rescue Inc. shared photos a kayaker named Martin Muller captured of a snake inhaling a crocodile outside Mount Isa in Queensland. The snake was an olive python—a native Australian species that's found exclusively on the continent. Pythons can subdue large prey by wrapping their powerful bodies around it and constricting the animal until it suffocates. Killing a large, aggressive predator like a freshwater crocodile is only half the job. Once its prey is ready to eat, the python opens its jaw, which can stretch several times larger than its head, and gradually consumes its meal, a process that can take hours.

The images below offer a rare look at this brutal act of nature. Muller captured the entire scene, from the python wrangling the croc to the gluttonous feeding that takes place afterwards. The last photos in the series show the python with a large, lumpy bulge in its belly—a sign of its success.

Pythons have been spotted eating crocodiles and alligators in the past, and it doesn't always end well for them. In 2005, a Burmese python in Florida—where they're an invasive species—burst open after trying to swallow an alligator whole. If this python spotted in Australia can stomach its meal, the croc will potentially sustain the snake for months.

[h/t Live Science]

An Underpass for Turtles in Wisconsin Is Saving Dozens of the Little Guys’ Lives

Dmytro Varavin/iStock via Getty Images
Dmytro Varavin/iStock via Getty Images

Why did the turtle cross the road? Because an underground tunnel made it safe to do so.

In 2016, the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to construct a tunnel beneath Highway 66, hoping to cut down on high turtle mortality rates, reports Robert Mentzer for Wisconsin Public Radio.

The tunnel, with Jordan Pond on one side and wetlands on the other, was a noble venture, but the turtles had no way of knowing it was a crossing point rather than a dark and potentially dangerous hole. So Pete Zani, herpetologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, installed aluminum flashing outside of each opening, which would reflect the sky and let turtles know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Zani also installed grates above the tunnel to make it less shadowy, and a small cul-de-sac in a nearby piece of the fencing to encourage turtles who had missed the tunnel to turn around.

Zani and his team found that in the first year after construction, 85 percent fewer turtles were killed on the road, and no baby turtles were among the casualties. In the last few years combined, only 40 turtles died, compared to 66 deaths in 2015 alone.

That’s great news for local turtles, of course, and it’s great news for local humans, too. The intersection in question is always busy with truckers, commuters, and families en route to Jordan Pond, and turtle crossing can exacerbate traffic congestion and increase the chance of accidents.

Not all turtles have caught on, however, and it looks like some might never get the memo. Zani found that about 30 percent of snapping turtles and 20 percent of painted turtles make it through the tunnel, and those numbers have been consistent each year since construction. “They either get it or they don’t,” Zani told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Other animals are getting it, too. As part of the experiment, Zani set up a turtle-wrangling program in which students monitored trail cameras for turtle activity outside the underpass. In photos captured by the cameras, they noticed that rodents, mink, skunks, raccoons, and even house cats were traveling by turtle tunnel.

[h/t Wisconsin Public Radio]

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