Editor’s Note: I offer Ragdoll breeders the opportunity to do an interview about their cattery to post on the site. I do not endorse or recommend any breeders.
Center Hill Ragdolls is a TICA and CFA registered Ragdoll cattery in Middle Tennessee near beautiful Center Hill Lake. Operated by a mother/daughter team, we breed for quality and loving temperament over quantity. We love our Ragdoll family and enjoy sharing information about this amazing breed! Our mission is to provide happy, healthy, well-socialized & affectionate Ragdolls to safe, loving, nurturing, lifelong homes. If you are thinking about adding a Ragdoll to your family, we hope you’ll consider Center Hill Ragdolls in helping to make that dream a reality! As always, regardless of whether you choose to adopt from us or not, if you have questions regarding the Ragdoll breed, or the adoption process, we are happy to help. The ultimate goal a family that fits!
1. How long have you been breeding Ragdolls?
After much research, mother (Joannie) and daughter (Shelli) started Center Hill Ragdolls cattery in 2017 and began breeding a year later, once the Ragdolls in our program were over a year old, sexually mature, and of healthy size. We wanted to begin with kittens, rather than existing breeding adult cats, so that the cats in our program would be well-adjusted, stress-free, and used to the other cats in their environment prior to breeding; hence the year+ wait.
2. How did you pick Ragdolls to breed?
Our family has always taken in strays and rescues, worked to get them healthy and socialized, then adopted them out to good families. In the late 90s, a male Ragdoll was brought to us late at night. He was scared and matted. We cleaned him up, had him cleared with the vet, then kept him in our home for almost 2 years until we found the perfect home for him. He was a really special cat, and we continued to talk about him in the years that followed. Ultimately, we missed him so much that we decided to purchase another male Ragdoll in 2017. We were hooked and decided that we wanted to provide others the opportunity to have these amazing cats be a part of their families, too!
3. Do you show? Why or why not?
Our intention is to eventually show a few of our Ragdolls; we do attend shows in our area to view the process, see good examples of the Ragdoll breed standard, and learn from/meet other Ragdoll owners and breeders. For now, however, our main focus is maintaining a smooth-running cattery while keeping all of our cats healthy and happy – that’s a big job that requires a lot of time and dedication with 8 of our own Ragdolls (6 in our breeding program) and kitten litters to be taken care of and socialized.
4. What congenital defects are in Ragdolls?
The main congenital defect we are concerned about in the Ragdoll breed is a condition called HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy). HCM involves thickening of the muscle walls of the heart, which leads to heart failure over time. Another condition that affects Ragdolls is PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease). PKD involves fluid filled cysts that grow in the kidneys that can lead to severe kidney damage and failure.
Luckily, DNA tests exist these days that are available to breeders and owners that are able to reveal whether your cat has (may not yet be physically evident if the cat is very young), or is a carrier of one of these conditions. The price of these tests is reasonable for the peace of mind they provide.
Of course, other congenital effects can occur (which is why most reputable breeders provide some sort of health guarantee). However, the two conditions mentioned above are the two that most concern breeders and are often tested for, especially if a specific Ragdoll is going to be placed in a breeding program. This is done in order to ensure that these defects will not be passed down to future kitten litters.
5.How are you breeding to avoid those defects?
We do our absolute best to avoid passing on congenital defects by seeking out healthy cats from good pedigrees to add to our program, and by testing each future King/Queen for these defects/conditions through UC Davis’ Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) DNA testing program prior to allowing them to breed.
6. How large is your breeding operation?
While we have 8 Ragdoll pets ( 2 males, 6 females), only 6 of these are part of our breeding program – 1 male, 5 females.
7. Where do your cats spend most of their time?
All of our Ragdolls live in the home with us – free-roaming, never caged. While they are mainly limited to the second story of the home, they have approximately 1000 square feet to roam, lounge, and play. The exception is when we have Queens in heat that must be separated from our King due to it being too close to time of her last litter to breed again, or when a mother is placed in the nursery with her kittens for a bit of quiet and privacy, at least for the first few weeks. Mother cats are allowed to come and go to and from the nursery as they please, but we have found that this short period of separation from the other adult cats gives her some peace and uninterrupted bonding time with her new babies before they meet the whole family. Daddy meets his babies a few days after birth.
8. Do you breed full time? In other words, do you have another job?
We, mother and daughter, both have other jobs. However, Shelli has a home-based business and lives next door to Joannie (the in-home cattery), so a day never goes by that the Ragdolls are alone for more than a few hours at a time. Joannie is an RN and works as a school nurse very close to home, where she is off for Summers and several school breaks throughout the year. We do our very best to take separate vacations so that our cats always have a sense of familiarity in terms of caregiver and routine.
9. What sort of health guarantees do you offer?
We offer a 1-year health guarantee against any non-curable genetic conditions or congenital diseases.
10. What happens if the kitten gets sick?
If a kitten we have adopted out gets sick, we are happy and more than willing to speak to adopter regarding symptoms, severity of symptoms, and how long these symptoms have existed. If symptoms sound like a mild case of stress or gastrointestinal upset, we can guide them through a few treatment strategies to get the kitten back on track. However, if symptoms seem more serious and the cat appears to be in distress, we highly recommend a trip to the veterinarian for an expert opinion, diagnosis and treatment. As mentioned above, we will replace a kitten if he/she becomes ill due to a non-curable genetic condition or congenital disease in the first year after going to a new home. All kittens leave our home having begun a series of core vaccinations (which adopter will be responsible for ensuring vaccination series completion), deworming, and veterinary well-check. Furthermore, adopters are required, via contract, to have their kitten cleared of any signs of illness by a veterinarian of their choice, within the first 72 hours of taking the kitten home. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for illness that occurs once the kitten leaves our home since we have no control of the kitten’s new home environment; including allergens, parasites, viruses, fleas, etc. It is the adopters responsibility to ensure that their home, including other indoor pets, are free and clear of these conditions.
11. Do you have any fun adoption stories to share?
Double adoptions are always fun. When two kittens are bonded, it’s so awesome to see them get to go to the same home together.
12. What makes this kitten or cat “pet quality” or “show quality”?
When offering “Pet Quality” and “Show Quality”, the breeder is simply identifying kittens that meet the breed standard (Show Quality) – perfectly marked in terms of color and pattern, excellent body shape, boning, and condition vs. kittens that are born with one or more minor cosmetic flaws/mismarked areas (Pet Quality). Pet Quality Ragdolls do not meet the breed standard for show, but they are no less adorable or lovable.
13. Do you keep some of your cats for your own?
We have not yet kept any of our own kittens back for ourselves. We may consider this in the future when the Ragdolls in our current program get closer to retirement.
14. How old is your oldest cat?
Our oldest Ragdoll is 2.5 years old.
15. What is your favorite Ragdoll look?
While it’s really difficult to choose, because you often become bonded to personalities/certain cats rather than a specific look, Shelli tends to be drawn to Seal or Chocolate Point Mitted with Blaze and Blue Point Bicolor Ragdolls. Joannie loves the Van (a type of Bicolor with limited point color and a lot of white – see our boy Oliver on our website for an example) as well as Blue Point Mitted Ragdolls.
16. Do you raise your cats underfoot?
We absolutely raise our Ragdolls underfoot. While they are limited to the upper floor of our home, they have run of nearly the entire area and sleep with their humans (when they choose to).
17. Do you send photos of the parents before you adopt a kitten? Or do you post the parents on the website?
We post pictures of our kittens’ parents on our website and on social media for everyone to see. Adopters are more than welcome to ask for more pictures or information about the parents.
18. Do you send the kitten’s pedigree when you adopt a kitten?
We do not include the pedigree with our adoption packet. However, if adopters want to pay extra, we can provide the pedigree when we provide the kitten’s registration (which is included in the adoption price).
19. Will it be a problem if one requests, and wants to pay for, the CatGenes DNA testing before one accepts a kitten?
If an adopter wishes to have a DNA test performed prior to adoption, we would be happy and willing to perform the swab and send the DNA off for testing once the kitten is an appropriate age (4-6 weeks). In fact, all of the adult Ragdolls in our program are DNA tested prior breeding.
20. Can people interested in purchasing one of your cats visit your cattery?
Individuals seriously interested in adopting one of our kittens and ready to pay a deposit are absolutely welcome to visit our cattery. However, for the safety of our cats – especially the mothers and kittens – physical interaction between visitors and our Ragdolls is very limited. Only individuals/families who have placed a deposit and are ready to take their Ragdoll kitten home at 10+ weeks can engage with and examine their kitten inside our welcome area.
21. If a possible adoptee cannot visit your cattery, are you willing to talk to your adoptee on the phone?
We will speak with any individual on the phone regarding our cattery, or interest in one or more of our Ragdolls.
22. How do you honor your health guarantee?
If a kitten we have adopted out becomes ill in the first year following adoption, and the illness is diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian as a non-curable genetic condition or congenital disease (veterinary documentation must be provided), or if the kitten dies in the first year of life due to illness caused by a non-curable genetic condition or congenital disease (must be proven by veterinary necropsy, documentation provided to Center Hill Ragdolls), we will provide a replacement kitten of like color/pattern from the next available litter at no charge. Furthermore, if original affected kitten is still living at time of notification by your chosen licensed veterinarian, we will allow the kitten to be returned to us.
23. What if a kitten gets adopted and the customer is unhappy with a kitten, what do you do?
If an adopter is unhappy with the kitten they adopted, adopter has signed a contract stating that the kitten must be returned to us at Center Hill Ragdolls. Prior to return, for the safety of the animals already in our home, it is required that the kitten must be fully examined by our veterinarian, including blood work, to ensure the kitten suffers no illnesses and is free of fleas, parasites, and of any diseases. Veterinary and travel costs are adopters responsibility.
24. How are your kittens registered?
Our Ragdoll kittens are registered through TICA (The International Cat Association). Following the advice of our veterinarian, we do not early spay/neuter prior to kittens going home between 10-12 weeks. Therefore, adopters sign a contract agreeing to have kitten spayed/neutered within 6 months of purchase date. It is adopter’s responsibility to ensure that we receive licensed veterinarian proof of desexing surgery once spay/neuter is complete. If we do not receive this documentation within 7 months of kitten purchase date, TICA registration will not be provided to adopter.
25. What vaccination brand do you use? And what vaccinations are given, when?
We use Nobivac HCPCh Eclipse 4 vaccine – core vaccine of Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (modified live virus) + Chalmydia Psittaci (modified live bacteria).
We typically start vaccinations between 8-9 weeks, and preventative Pyrantel deworming at 4 weeks (and every 2 weeks afterward until 10 weeks). If a kitten is with us longer than 12 weeks, they are vaccinated again around 13 weeks.
26. What are the kittens fed?
Our adults and kittens are fed Nulo Cat and Kitten brand wet and dry kibble food.We are very enthusiastic about this brand, and we strongly encourage our adopters to keep their kittens on this food as it assists in creating and maintaining a strong immune system as well as healthy coat and gums. Nulo can be compared to other food brands by going to PawDiet.com online… click on Brands, then Compare Brands.
*For our adults only, we occasionally supplement Open Farms brand food (available online) for a little variety. We also have one adult Ragdoll with a poultry allergy; she eats ZiwiPeak brand, which is a limited ingredient food. All of these foods have been great for us, and the cats absolutely love them… and we see the benefits in their health and appearance!
Thank you to Center Hill Ragdolls for doing an interview for our site!