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Ragdoll Cats: What to Expect During the First Year

Updated on December 2, 2018
By Adios lily - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
By Adios lily - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 | Source

Ragdoll Cat: Some Characteristics

The Ragdoll is a distinctive domestic cat breed known for their striking appearance and laid back disposition. Their temperament are said to be docile, calm and affectionate, making them ideal pets for households with young children. Ragdoll cats are often attention seeker, preferring to stay close to their owners all the time so if you have a busy schedule which requires you to leave the house for long hours, the Ragdoll may not be for you.

The Ragdoll is a physically imposing breed with females usually weighing from 8 to 15lbs and males tipping the scale at 12 to 20 pounds or more. Their breed standard describes them as a large, muscular breed with dense medium length coat which comes in a variety of accepted colour and pattern.

Kittydabitty [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Kittydabitty [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons | Source

New born: Changes in the First 4 Weeks

The first three month of the Ragdoll kitten's life will most likely be spent under the care of it's mother with a breeder, as kittens taken from their mother before 10 weeks may develop health and behavioural issues from not being properly weaned. New born Ragdoll kittens will only weigh a little bit more than 3 oz (90g - 100g), with the size of each litter being anywhere from 1 to 8 kittens.

New born babies will instinctively start feeding, as their first meal is of critical importance for healthy growth. Female cats will produce a special type of milk, called colostral milk, for only around a day after birth. This milk contains a higher than usual percentage of proteins, vitamins and most importantly antibodies that new born kittens lack. It is very important to provide the mother with a warm, quiet environment so she can nurse comfortably. Kittens will nurse as frequently as every 1 to 2 hour. If for some reason the mother is unable to nurse, they will need to be bottle fed at the same frequency with a special kitten formula. If they are nursed by the mother, kitten will first fight over the nipple which produces the most milk, but by the end of the week each kitten will know their individual nipple and will not nurse from another one.The new born babies should grow rapidly, quite often doubling their weight within the first week.

Ragdoll kittens are born with a solid white coat, with eyes and ears closed. During the first week, their ear should began to open up, and they will start to make small sounds. Color and pattern of the kittens will also begin to develop during this time, starting with the nose and paw leathers. The nose and paw pads of Colourpoint and mitted Ragdoll will turn dark, whereas bi-colour Ragdoll kittens will retain their pink nose and paw colouring. Ears and tails also begin to show colour in as early as the third day. For lighter colored Ragdoll, such as cream, flame and liliac, tail and ear colours will only be distinguishable around the fourth week.

The Kitten's eyes will open by week two, but as their nervous system is still undeveloped they will not be able to see clearly until week three. All purebred Ragdoll cats should have blue eyes. Kittens will start to crawl and play with each other as they learn to control their bodies. The curious kittens will start to take notice of their surrounding sounds and sights. By week four, kittens will begin to self clean, and their milk teeth will start to grow. During this time, kittens can be gradually introduced to the litter box and wet food, though they may not start to use them yet.

CalistaZ [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
CalistaZ [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons | Source

Rapid Growth: Week 5 to Week 12

Five week old kittens are super adorable to watch. They can now walk easily, and will practice pouncing and wrestling with their litter mates. With the increased level of activity they will also need more food. The mother may not be able to keep up with nutrition for the kitten by this time so slowly introducing wet and dry food to the kittens will be a welcomed break for her. With any change in diet for cats, kittens may show signs of diarrhea for a few days, but unless they are severe, it is not cause for alarm.

The Ragdoll kitten's eye colour will begin to gradually lighten to a lighter shade of blue from week six on. Very rarely will the kitten's eyes remain a deep blue shade into adulthood. The kitten will continue to grow steadily, with their ears, legs and tail growing longer and bigger, and faces lose their round shape. They can clean themselves much better now, and won't make much of a mess when eating and using the litter box. By the time they are two month old, healthy Ragdoll kittens should weigh around 1.7 lb, or 800 g. Kittens of this age will be very energetic, as they learn to socialise through playing with their litter mates. It is crucial that they are allowed to do so. The color and pattern of the Kitten's coat will also be clearly marked by this time.

Nine week old kittens will not be as interested in human as before, unless there is a toy being waved around. They will continue to learn what is allowed and what is not from their mother, and are ready for independence. Kittens will start to wean around week eight and should be completely weaned by week ten. Kittens will need to be feed specialised kitten food until they are one year old, as the dietary requirement for a growing cat is very different from that of an adult. The antibodies kittens get from their mother will start to wear off once they are weaned, and they will need to develop their own immune system at this point. Despite their small size, the amount of food they eat will be impressive, and their weight will change by the day.

Ragdoll kittens of this age will have disproportionately large ears and paws, which they will gradually grow into. By the time they are twelve week old, a healthy Ragdoll kitten should weight around 3.7 lb, or 1.7 kg. Kittens usually go to their new owners at twelve week old, and should be neutered before then.

BlackIceNRW [CC BY-SA 3.0]
BlackIceNRW [CC BY-SA 3.0] | Source

Kittenhood: 3 to 6 Month

By now the kitten should have settled into their new forever home. Kitten undergoes the most rapid period of growth before 6 month. At this age, the kittens should look like small sized adults. The Ragdoll breed as a whole have longer hind legs and bigger bone structure, which gives them a very distinct profile. These features will be more obvious in young kittens but they will rapidly grow into them. At four month, their heads should be more proportionate to their body. Ragdoll cats naturally have a fat pad on their belly even when they are underweight, so care should be taken with the amount of food being fed.

The kittens will begin to lose their milk teeth sometimes during the forth or fifth month, so the kittens may become more interested in chewing furniture and wires. Unwanted chewing may be resolved by providing suitable chewtoys, and this will be much safer for the kitten as well. Their shed milk teeth usually are swallowed with food and does not harm the kitten. However in rare cases the milk teeth shells may be found on the floor.

At five month, the Ragdoll kittens will start to experience spurts of growth. Their need for food increases and it is important to feed high quality kitten food to keep up with dietary needs. Kittens of these age should gain around 1 lb (500g) each month up till they are twelve month old, after which their grow should slow down. By the end of the fifth month, a healthy Ragdoll kitten should weigh at least 4.4 lbs, or 2 kg.

Cássia Afini [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Cássia Afini [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Growing into Adults: 6 to 12 Month

In cat years, this will be the teenage to young adult stage for the cat. Kittens are very active at this stage, and you may wonder if they will every calm down, but rest assured they eventually will the placid giants commonly known to their breed. Firm love and stimulation is highly encouraged for a kitten this age, and you should start to enforce house rules during this time. It is also recommended to regularly groom and wash the kitten so they are more comfortable with being handled when they are adults. Being medium haired cats, Ragdolls should be brushed regularly to prevent matts.

Growth of the kitten will start to slow after the sixth month, but it is common for Ragdoll kittens to experience intermediate growth sprouts followed by periods of slow growth. Because of such unpredictable growth care should be taken with limiting the kitten's food. To avoid malnutrition and stunted growth, small amounts of dry food should be made available for when they are hungry. It is also important to monitor the kitten's weight as metabolism can change suddenly, and it is highly recommended to set aside 15 mins each day to play with and exercise the kitten to decrease the risk of it becoming overweight. A overweight ragdoll will have excessive fat pad and it would not be easy to feel their spin by touch.

Kittens will start to sexually mature from month seven to nine. Unfixed females will start to go into heat, whereas unfixed males will start to spray. By the tenth month, the kitten should have calmed down and will start to be interested in cuddling again. Their adult personality will slowly show through, and they will be less interested in running and jumping around.

As they slowly mature, their coat will continue to darken, with details and markings becoming more prominent. Some Ragdoll kittens will begin to develop a full coat and mane at six month old, for others it will take much longer. It is important to remember that Ragdoll cats are slow maturing so they will experienced continuous changes in size and color up until they are 3 years of age.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      19 months ago from Beautiful South

      This is a very informative article; much more realistic than the gushy articles written for advertising hype. I've wanted a ragdoll for a long time now, but with the two monsters we have, (one is very aggressively playful and the other is big loner) getting one isn't likely. I do wish you had discussed how ragdolls act when around aggressive cats.

      Once we adopted a wonderful stray the vet said looked like a ragdoll, but she suffered from intermittent deafness. We eventually lost her to diabetes, and it broke our hearts.


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