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.

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


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Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

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