Birman vs Ragdoll Cats – Similarities And Differences Between The World’s Most Popular Cats

Birman and Ragdoll cats are two of the most beloved cat breeds of all time. While there are many things these two breeds have in common such as their gorgeous coats, their laid-back elegant demeanors, and their beautiful blue eyes, there are also some notable differences between them.

Xemper Fi Seal and Xinfandel Blue are brothers twins loved by Dagmar and Klaus  - Birman vs Ragdoll Cats
Xinfandel (Blue) and Xemper Fi (Seal) , Birman twin brothers, loved by Dagmar and Klaus

Let’s dive into Birman vs Ragdoll info and discover the history of these two cat breeds, as well as the similarities and differences in features, coat colors, and personalities.

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A Quick Overview

To get started, take a look at this brief overview of the two cat breeds. This suggests how similar they are, but it also highlights the slight differences that are key to differentiating them.

Birman Overview

  • Height – 8-10 inches average
  • Weight – 10-12 pounds average
  • Lifespan – 13-15 years average
  • Exercise – Medium
  • Intellectual Stimulation Needs – Medium – High
  • Grooming Needs – Brushing 1-2 times a week
  • Family-Friendly – Yes
  • Cat-Friendly – Yes
  • Trainability – Medium
Seal Mitted Ragdoll Kitty Kitty Cayenne proudly owned and loved by Judith Gil IMG-4567
Seal Mitted Ragdoll Kitty, Cayenne, proudly owned and loved by Judith Gil

Ragdoll Overview

  • Height – 9-10 inches average
  • Weight – 8-10 pounds average
  • Lifespan – 12-15 years average
  • Exercise – Medium
  • Intellectual Stimulation Needs – High
  • Grooming Needs – Brushing 1-2 times a week
  • Family-Friendly – Yes
  • Cat-Friendly – Yes
  • Dog-Friendly – Yes
  • Trainability – Yes

Breed History

Probably the biggest difference between Birman and Ragdolls is in their history. While one is an ancient breed, the other was developed in the 60s. Can you guess which is which? Let’s find out.

The Origins of the Birman

That’s right, Birman cats are an ancient breed, with origins in Burma, currently Myanmar. According to National Birman Fanciers, these beautiful cats known as the Sacred Cats of Burma were the companions of Kittah priests in their temples. Legend says that when a priest died, his soul would pass into his feline companion before he would go on to his next life.

Duffy MacDougal aka The Duffynator a seal-point Birman cat loved by Dagmar and Klaus
Xemper Fi, a seal-point Birman cat, loved by Dagmar and Klaus

As for the recent history of the breed, it made its way into the West back in the 1900s when a pair of Birman cats was shipped to France. Unfortunately, the male did not survive the journey, but the female called Sita was pregnant when she arrived and gave birth to a healthy kitten, which was named Poupee de Madalpour.

Their tumultuous history continues throughout the beginning of the 20th century. The Federation of Feline Francaise recognized them officially in 1925, increasing their popularity significantly. But the following decades and World War II almost decimated Birmans in Europe. At the end of the war, only two Birman cats survived, but fortunately, this was enough to propagate the breed further. Birman cats were recognized in the U.S. in 1967 and up to this day, it is one of the most beloved cat breeds.

The Origins Of The Ragdoll

Ragdolls are a relatively new breed compared to Birman cats, but their history is also very interesting and quite closely related to Birman. The very first Ragdoll cats were bred in the 1960s by Ann Baker. She bred a white female Angora Persian cat named Josephine which had a Himalayan coat pattern to a longhaired Birman male.

Bi-Color Ragdoll Cinnamon proudly owned and loved by Judith Gil IMG-5658
Seal Bi-Color Ragdoll Cinnamon proudly owned and loved by Judith Gil

This was the combination that ultimately led to the long-haired but non-matting coats of Ragdoll cats, as well as their famous floppy personalities. However, it took a few more generations to perfect the Ragdoll cat breed. It was officially recognized as a pure breed in 1965 by National Cat Fanciers Association.

Then, Denny and Laura Dayton purchased a pair of cats from Ann Baker and introduced it to America’s cat shows and then to English cat shows. Today, Ragdoll cats are accepted in all official associations for registrations, but there are Ragdolls in certain patterns that are still not accepted by some Associations in their shows.

Birman Vs Ragdoll – Visual Similarities And Differences

Four ragdoll kittens eating food from cat bowls, one bowl is blue with sketched fish on it.

As you’ve seen above, Ragdolls are actually related to Birmans, so it’s no surprise that some people mistake one breed for the other. So, let’s go through the visual similarities and differences between them

Birman Vs Ragdoll – General Features

Even though they have plenty of physical features in common, there are some key differences between these two lovely cats.  

Similarities

Ragdolls and Birmans are both medium to large-sized cats, with long coats and medium-sized ears with rounded tips. They both have triangle-shaped faces with rounded edges and medium-length muzzles. They also share their long bodies, with well-expressed muscles and a strong bone structure. Another common characteristic that people seem to remember about both of these breeds is their gorgeous blue eyes.

Xinfandel a blue Birman cat, and Xemper Fi a seal Birman cat
Xinfandel, a blue Birman cat, and Xemper Fi, a seal Birman cat, loved by Dagmar and Klaus

Differences

Despite these striking similarities, there are also some key differences between Ragdolls and Birman cats:

  • The biggest difference between Ragdolls and Birmans is in size. Ragdoll cats are large-sized, with adult males weighing 12-20 pounds and females 8-15 pounds. Birmans, however, are medium-sized, with males weighing 6-12 pounds and females 8-10 pounds.
  • While both breeds have blue eyes, Ragdolls have large oval-shaped eyes and Birman cats have smaller rounded eyes.
  • They may both be long cats, but Ragdolls have long tails while Birmans have medium-sized tails.
  • Both these breeds are known for their lush coats, but Birmans have silky fur and Ragdolls have soft fur.
  • A very subtle difference is in the shape of their noses. Birman cats have roman-shaped noses, with a delicate indentation, while Ragdolls have a gentle curve.

Birman Vs Ragdoll – Coat Color

Birmans and Ragdolls look very similar in terms of coat color, so people often get them mixed up. It’s not only their baby blue eyes that they have in common. Here’s what they have in common in terms of coat colors and what characteristics set them apart:

Soft cuddly looking, white ragdoll kitten sleeping on its side on a white bed sheet.

Similarities

The biggest similarity between Ragdolls and Birmans is that they are both color points. For both of them, their face, ears, tail, and feet are darker than their chest and bellies. They also both have bright blue eyes. These two breeds are also very similar in terms of colors.

You can find both Ragdoll and Birman cats in seal, blue, lilac, chocolate, cream, and red. In terms of patterns, both breeds include color point and tabby cats. Another similarity between the two breeds is that all kittens are born entirely white. Then, as they grow in their first few weeks, their coats become colored.

Differences

One of the biggest differences between Ragdoll and Birman cats is in their paws. All Birmans must be mitted, as this is an obligatory breed characteristic. Mitted means that they have white glove-like patterns on the back of their paws. These gloves must cover all their toes and stop at the joints in a V and they must also be symmetrical. This white mitted pattern in Birmans is tied to a genetic mechanism, so the presence of the white pattern on their legs is proof of breed purity.

Since Ragdolls and Birmans share genetic characteristics, the mitted pattern is also present in Ragdolls. However, there are several differences. Firstly, it is not an obligatory feature, as Ragdolls also come in a bi-color pattern. Secondly, mitted Ragdolls must also have white chins, with a white band that starts from its head and goes down its belly and all the way to its tail. Birmans, on the other hand, always have colored chins.

Another difference between these two breeds is in terms of coat texture. While both breeds have non-matting coats, Ragdolls tend to shed more than Birmans, particularly in spring and autumn.

Ragdoll Vs Birman – Cat Grooming

Grooming is one thing to consider when looking to adopt a long-haired cat. Judging by their looks and long rich silky coats, both these breeds seem difficult to groom, but that is not the case. And they have that in common! Let’s dive into the similarities and differences in grooming Birmans and Ragdolls.  

Xinfandel Blue Birman cat loved by Dagmar and Klaus
Xinfandel,. a blue Birman cat, loved by Dagmar and Klaus

Similarities

Birman and Ragdoll cats look similar, and they both have long coats (Technically, Birmans have medium to long coats, but the difference is very small. We’ll get into that next), the key similarity between these two cat breeds is that they both lack an undercoat. This makes them shed much less than other cat breeds, which also means that they don’t need excessive grooming.

The lack of an undercoat also means that their coats are less likely to mat, so grooming them will also be easy. People expect them to need a lot of grooming but brushing them once or twice a week is enough to keep their coats healthy and beautiful. Find out more about how often to groom Ragdoll cats!

Differences

The differences in grooming requirements are mainly related to size and coat texture. Birmans are smaller in size than Ragdolls, which makes them easier to groom. They also have thinner coats compared to Ragdolls and their fur is slightly shorter, so it will be easier to untangle and brush Birmans than Ragdolls. But even so, both of these breeds are easy to manage in terms of grooming compared to other cats.

Birman Vs Ragdoll – Cat Temperament

Birmans and Ragdolls are known all over the world for having a laid-back temperament and being excellent companions. These two cat breeds are the top choices for families looking for a furry new member. But they are definitely not the same. Here’s what they have in common and what sets them apart:

Similarities

Both Ragdolls and Birmans are excellent companions for families and single owners. They are friendly cats and share a laid-back personality, making them suitable pets for both children and adults. Both of these cats will be engaged when interacting with you, but they will never be intrusive. They are also very smart cats, so playing with them as much as possible is what makes them thrive.

Differences

Ragdoll cats have some unmistakable personality traits – they become completely relaxed when they are picked up, like Ragdolls, which is where they get their names from. They have a huge affinity for humans, and they develop very strong bonds with their masters. They have a dog-like personality because they will follow their humans around the house, but they will be happy just being close to their masters without smothering them or demanding attention excessively. These smart cats are also very playful and they thrive on puzzles and interactive toys.

Birman cats are more playful than Ragdolls, they will also form strong bonds with their masters, but they are likelier to engage more and demand more attention. For them, it is essential to have toys they can play with when they are alone in the house while their masters are at work. Interactive toys that they can play with on their own are the best way to keep them stimulated.

Which Cat Breed Are You Leaning Towards And Why?

By now, you’ve seen that there are plenty of similarities between Ragdoll and Birman cats. These two cat breeds are the most popular ones worldwide because of their good looks, striking blue eyes, and loveable personalities. The differences between them lie in the details, each of them having its trademark features. So which one do you choose?

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a direct answer to this question. But what we can do is encourage you to consider the characteristics of each breed and even interact with Birmans and/or Ragdolls if you have the chance.

Both of these breeds are outstanding, so there is no wrong answer to this question. Also, while physical traits are easier to predict, the personality of the cat you choose depends on the individual cat, the connection you have with it, the environment it grows in, how you raise it, and, most importantly, how much love and attention you offer it.

Whether you choose a Birman or a Ragdoll cat, you will gain a family member.  

FAQs

Still have questions about Birmans and Ragdolls? Then check out our FAQ section to find out more.

Are Birman and Ragdoll cats the same?

As you’ve seen above, they are quite similar, but they are definitely not the same. They differ in size, coat texture and length, the color of their chins, and personality. But they are both large-sized cats with long coats, baby blue eyes, and sharp wits.

Are Birmans and Ragdolls related?

Saying that Birmans and Ragdolls are related might be an overstatement, but the very first Ragdoll cat was bred by Ann Baker in the 1960s from a female Angora Persian cat and a longhaired Birman male, which means that they are more like distant relatives. Since the 1960s, Ragdolls have been bred from other Ragdoll cats without including Birmans anymore.

What is the Difference between a Ragdoll and a Birman?

Ragdoll and Birman cats differ in size, coat length, coat texture, chin color, and personality. Ragdolls are slightly larger than Birmans, and they have longer coats, that are silkier in texture. Ragdolls have white chins, while Birmans do not. Ragdoll cats are also more docile and more laid back when it comes to their personality.

Are Ragdolls part Birman?

They kind of are. Sixty years ago, when Ann Baker bred the first Ragdoll cat, she used a male Birman cat and a female Angora Persian cat. But once the breed was finished developing and officially recognized, there was no need to include other cat breeds in the breeding process. So, yes, Ragdolls are part Birman in the sense that they are distant relatives, but not in the sense that you need a Birman cat to get a Ragdoll kitten.

Are Birman cats cuddly?

Birmans are sociable cats who enjoy spending time with their owners. They are highly intelligent cats as well, so they are likely to engage in playing. They form close bonds with their pet parents, so, yes, Birmans are likely cuddly. However, there are no guarantees when it comes to cats’ personalities (or any living things for that matter). Each cat will develop its own personality based on its environment and its experiences alone and with its human companions.  

Are Ragdoll cats Siamese?

No, they are not. Ragdoll cats are not the same as Siamese cats, they are separate breeds. There is, however, a mix between Ragdoll and Siamese cats called a Ragamese.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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7 Comments

  1. Janet Shahmiri says:

    My 2 female Birman sisters are so delightful. As stated in the message above they both prances with tails held high. I always chuckle when they prance after my husband for food. Abi is blue mitted and Posh is Seal mitted. Their non-bio sister is a Maine Coon mix who keeps them in line. Parisa is 15yo and the Birman sisters are 12yo. Also, have a short hair domestic male who is also loving like my girls. His name is Prince Caspian…a friend helped name him. We chose Caspian and she added Prince. He is crazy about her. Very happy with our crew. I do want to rescue a Ragdoll and a purebred Maine Coon.

    Peace, Janet

    1. HI Janet, thank you for sharing! Have you seen our Ragdoll Rescue page that helps you find a Ragdoll in need near you? Great tips there and a way to find a Maine Coon too using same tactics.

  2. Marie Swanner says:

    Thank you, Jenny! Very interesting article. I have loved both breeds since first seeing them at cat shows many years ago. I appreciate your passion for all things feline and in particular, the amazing Ragdoll breed.
    Thanks for all you do!
    Marie, Benjamin, Rex, and Lodie ❤️

  3. Monica Skaggs says:

    Thanks so much for this interesting article, Jenny! I have two Ragdolls and my beloved Birman, Honey Malone, has passed away. She was an interesting character — like all my Ragdolls! Malone was so elegant and had the silkiest fur and a sweet personality and meow. She didn’t walk, she delicately pranced, with her tail held high! 🙂 Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and all my other beloveds who have moved on to the Rainbow Bridge. Thanks for the great info you regularly share! This article is a real keeper!

    1. Thank you, Monica – I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Loved the “delicately pranced, with her tail held high” – how sweet!

  4. Patti Johnson says:

    Fascinating info, Jenny honey! Well done! I truly enjoyed learning a bit about the Beautiful Birman breed! Super pawesome & fabulous! TYSVM! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

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