Ragdoll Cat Breed Stereotypes

Last Updated on May 16, 2014 by Jenny

Murphy, Caymus and Rags
Murphy, Caymus and Rags

Last year, I published an article written by MeLinda Hughes about Ragdoll Cat Stereotypes.

Ragdoll Cat breed generalizations and stereotypes continue to haunt me with this website.

If there’s one thing I have learned from this website, it’s that people rely too heavily on breed stereotypes.  I have literally had people tell me that they are rehoming a Ragdoll because it didn’t act like what they thought a Ragdoll was.

Cats are living souls.  They are not machines.  They are not made in a factory.  They are all different, with different personalities and different souls – raised in different environments and exposed to different things.  Reminds me of my mom – she is an identical twin.  While her DNA is the same as my Aunt’s – they certainly do not have the same souls.  No one Ragdoll will fit all the characteristics of the breed and may not fit any of them.  The only for sure way to know a cat’s personality is to adopt an adult cat and have the previous owner describe what it’s like.

If I were to take it to another extreme – separate people out by their races.  It would be like saying, all white people do this, that and the other, whereas Asian people do this, that and the other.  It’s absurd.

With that said, a good breeder can know early on what the cat might be like.  We adopted Caymus and Murphy as kittens when my Rags was 15 years old and the breeder knew exactly which kitten would be OK with Rags and which would give him trouble and was right.  (Caymus got along well with Rags and Murphy not so much).

It’s sort of a double edged sword because sometimes I say to people, “I love Ragdolls, not necessarily cats.”  That’s because my first experience with cats was only with Ragdolls – it wasn’t until later on in my teens that I found out all cats are not like Ragdolls.  Yet, I have also discovered not all Ragdolls are Ragdolls.

What do you think about this topic? Share your thoughts below.

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30 thoughts on “Ragdoll Cat Breed Stereotypes

  1. Dementia Boy says:

    From Kitty City’s Facebook page, this is the story of how Dolly, now 16 and still at the sanctuary, was “rehomed”:

    Dolly’s owner was the president of an animal rescue. She no longer wanted Dolly whom she had had de-clawed and also had all of Dolly’s teeth removed. Dolly’s owner had the microchip removed from her name into the rescues name and put Dolly out of her house onto the street. Dolly’s owner moved away and abandoned her on the streets. Sick and near death Dolly was rescued because of the microchip she had linked her to her owners animal rescue. After almost dying at the animal hospital Dolly eventually recovered and was brought to Kitty City NM.

    • Denise says:

      I agree with everyone! My Merlin was so special we decided to adopt ragdoll kittens. They have their own personalities and that is what I love about them most. I can see shades of my other cats in them but they are “unique” in their own right.

      Merlin was re-homed because his owner didn’t like him coughing up hairballs! She gave him to my husband and I am glad she did. Merlin ended up in a much better home and if he coughed up a hairball a year that was alot!

      Some people, right?

  2. Dementia Boy says:

    I remember the 15-year-old Ragdoll, defanged and declawed, that Jenny saw at the New Mexico no-kill shelter. She haunted me for months; she is haunting me again.

  3. Robin says:

    I think it’s terrible that a person would adopt a Ragdoll, and then re-home it because it didn’t act the way they thought a Ragdoll should. How sad!!! I love my girl, even when she doesn’t fit the breed standard in personality. She is her own little “person,” as all cats are.

  4. CC says:

    Up until a few months ago, I was clueless of the ragdoll breed. It had been 17 years since I had last owned a cat. Prior to Butters arrival, I had always owned domestic short or long haired types – non pedigreed cats. I had initially planned on purchasing a Persian kitty for my son, as more of a therapy cat, to help ease his anxiety as a result of a brain injury. I found a breeder and I scheduled a visit to see her pretty kitties the next day. I decided to visit her website and I found she also bred ragdolls and Himalayans, thus began my research about raggies. I read as much as I could about ragdolls in a three hour stretch, and I decided this was the breed of cat I wanted. I knew I would need a kitten whose personality would be best suited for my son’s needs. Article after article, I realized there were distinct traits of the ragdoll that were quite appealing, but also I knew from past experience with some of my past domestic felines, ragdolls also shared the same characteristics such as being docile, following me from room to room, being social, and good with children. I wanted to know in my mind what made the raggie different from the other kittens I raised in the past. We made our first visit to the breeder and I watched the initial interaction between my son and Butters. For a kitten he was quite relaxed within my son’s arms (which would not last). He was quite vocal, which reminded me of Cinco, the tuxedo cat with odd ball ways and a wining personality who stole my heart years ago. I was looking for something extraordinary about the adorable raggie that would convince me he was worth buying rather than going down to the shelter to get a rescue cat, and it would not be until weeks later, when Butters came to live with us, when I realized how special he was.
    Butters came to live with us when he was 8 weeks old. I noticed right away, that he seemed to be a very social creature. He tended to bond with me right away. In the back of mind I was looking for evidence of the list of traits I had read about regarding ragdolls, but I was surprised in a good way of the differences. I found my little guy to be more in need of attention but also how engaged he was in playtime. I soon found he was a real stinker and a very hyper little guy. He would get so active and run around the apartment like he lost his mind and then 15 minutes later I would find him fast asleep on my bed. Butters is not a lap cat for now, but that’s okay with me. He does follow me around like a little puppy but I respect his curiosity. I really enjoy playtime with Butters, he is so engaged and our relationship has only strengthened. I found I could do things with Butters that my past cats would never do. My little guy enjoys going on car rides free style – no pet carrier needed. He does not like to be held unless it is on his own terms and I don’t have a problem with that. I realize he often needs his own space, so I have provided areas where he can go and chill. He also can be in a deep like coma state of sleep, but as soon as he hears me cleaning the litter box or filling up his drink/food dishes he is right there at my feet supervising me. So while he does display some of the popular listed characteristics written about ragdolls, I also realize he cannot be put into a mold, and he will always have his own distinct personality (which I prefer). I just enjoy each day as it comes with Butters as a new learning experience and a day that brings us closer together. I can say this though regardless of pedigree, Butters is the second most intelligent cat I have owned, Cinco being the first. My most tender moment with Butters came a few weeks ago. I had been gone for a few hours. Upon my return I sat down to take my sandals off, and there he was next to me, on his hind legs, front paws on my shoulders, purring like a motor, and kissing my face. He had missed me and I too had missed him, oh how my heart melted, like butter.

    • Patti Johnson says:

      Hi, CC! What a wonderful story! And….I just lurve, lurve, lurve that you named your beautiful kitty “Butters!” Awesome!

      Big hugs!

      Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

  5. Belle says:

    So true. I grew up with Moggies on a farm, and while I loved them I prefered dogs, until I got my first Ragdoll almost 4 years ago! I called him my dog-cat. Looks like a cat, acts like a dog! He’s sitting faithully beside me now. I got a second one 18 months after and she is so different. I love them both for there unique individual personalities and quirks. He flops, she smooches, he likes to investigate people, she runs away from them, he’s huge and cuddly, she’s small and skittish. They are so different but they both bring me so much joy. And they both make me laugh so much! I love all animals and while, as you point out, you can’t pidgeon hole a Ragdoll, there is something special about this breed. I’d love to breed them myself one day.

  6. Patti Johnson says:

    Great post, Jenny! Very well said, as is everyone else’s input on this subject. I couldn’t agree more!

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3 (who sez "Iz won ov a kine!" Yes, Miss Pink Sugarbelle. YOU are definitely one of a kind and we love you for THAT!)

  7. Dementia Boy says:

    Another thing about William: He would follow us so closely that we would often step on him inadvertently. He didn’t squeak like Chiggy, but he had a very soft meow, even when in pain. Muse–the cat I deem responsible for my transition from psychologist to mad scientist–would rush to the scene and put her mouth around our ankles, gently but firmly biting, warning us to stop it. Muse, we didn’t mean to do it!! Well, keep an eye out for Willy-Billy and watch where you’re walking, Muse seemed to say.

    William was also the only cat I’ve ever known who showed what I perceive as guilt. Until recently, the kitchen counters and table were “no cat” zones–not that this stopped anyone when I was out of the house. I’d come home and barely see a tabby or tortie tail disappearing from the table. A huge flame-point Ragdoll was left to “suffer” the consequences. William would continue sitting on the table with his eyes closed, meowing silently. I’d pick him up (lower back injury!!), kiss his head and place him on the floor. He’d “admit” to things I knew he didn’t do.

    In these ways, I suppose, he was like a dog. His photo is Wilma Blake’s avatar on facebook. Wilma Blake was as close as I could get to William Butler Blake Shakes Yeats.

  8. Marissa says:

    Thank you for sharing this great article with our community. I had no idea or expectations of what my ragdoll would be since I had only ever met one in my whole life. We discussed with our breeders that each kitten is their own personality and some our lap kitties, some are independent, some love attention, some just love their time alone but most of all show him (the whole litter were males) love and they will love you back. I love that my sweet little boy is nothing like I expected. He is fun, frisky but fiercely loyal to me, my hubby and now my son. When my son cries you will be sure my Ragdoll will me meowing to let me know. He is so much fun and so happy to have him in my life. Oh and he sheds, doesn’t flop and is kinda like dog but not really cause he’s a ragdoll and he is just curious 😉

  9. Mitsy's Mom says:

    What a great article! I couldn’t agree more. Our family has always gotten our pets at the shelter or humane society. Mitsy is the first animal that we have gotten from a breeder. Granted she is only a little over a year old, she doesn’t really display any of the “ragdoll behaviors”. Do we care? Nope, not at all. She is our beautiful fur baby and that is all that matters.

  10. Dementia Boy says:

    We had no idea what William would be like. I had never had a pedigreed cat. Most of my cats had come from clients/patients, some from law enforcement or shelters. Some were feral, bottle-raised kittens that I didn’t feel comfortable adopting out for one reason or another.

    My daughter wanted a Maine Coon or a Ragdoll. Fortuitously, we ran into William and his breeder at the vet’s office. He grabbed A’s ankle and flopped, with A dragging him around the clinic. The rest is history.

    Yes, he fit the stereotype (except for shedding cotton candy fur all over). But would it have mattered if he didn’t? Absolutely not. A different temperament would have changed the household dynamics, especially when Jolie came along, but would we have given him up? I can’t even wrap my head around that. What I remember with most affection is A dragging William around the house on his back, William purring gleefully. He wasn’t very smart but he was very kind and loving until his brain betrayed him.

    William and Zen died within three weeks of each other. I miss William but I don’t think I will ever recover from Zen’s loss. She was crazy, wild, mischievous, rude, feisty, brilliant, competitive, expressive, an intellectual snob, a diva, an alpha to beat all alphas, a clown with an incredible sense of humor. And she was so soft and plush. In the winter she looked like a buffalo. (Although Jolie is my avatar, you can see a picture of Zen in my YouTube profile. She was just beginning to get sick then; you can see it in her eyes. It’s a summer photo so you can’t tell how long her coat was.)

    I just have to focus now on loving and outliving Jolie and Isabella.

    • Teresa says:

      So sorry for your loss of William and Zen and understand the heartbreak of losing your “special” one. I had a special one too, and still miss her after almost 4 years, just like it was yesterday. Time does make it easier and thank goodness for the precious ones we have now to help us laugh and cuddle. Hope you have many more years of happiness with your Jolie and Isabella.

  11. Mike G. says:

    I appreciate you writing this article considering we just adopted a new ragdoll into our single ragdoll home and they most definitely have different personalities.

    Claus (1 year old Seal Mink Male) who was ragdoll of the week fits the personality in a lot of ways. He has minimal shedding, loves to be with us, is a true lap cat, greets us at the door, truly goes limp and loves being held, does not claw at anything and has that “confidence” where nothing scares him and he loves everyone. Now on the other hand as I said about him in his article they are said to be silent and he is hardly silent. Also he does bite (not hard enough to break skin) if he doesn’t want something done to him or you might have made him angry haha.

    The newest member Philomena (2 year old Seal Mitted Female)who has been a real joy also has her ragdoll traits and some not. Like Claus, she has minimal shedding, is starting to greet us at the door, loves to be with us and flops around on the floor. Unlike Claus she is almost completely silent and has never drawn a bite or claw no matter what we do with her. At the same time she does not like being held and will only tolerate it if you are sitting down and does not sit on your lap. She also is a lot more scared of things then her brother is.

    With all this said we love them both for the personalities they have. Personally what fun is it having two animals that are identical, you may as well should have just continued having one!

  12. margaret Jamieson-Light says:

    I owned 3 ragdolls – two were from the same litter and the other one was 3 months older and had the same mother. They are all gorgeous but their personalities are so different. Alfie the oldest is so stubborn, he is a chocolate/lilac and has wonderful markings. We call him the alley cat as he likes to roam and brings home the odd trophy. He hides under the bed with his bushy brown tail hanging out when I want to close up our bedroom door for the day. He likes to pummel. My dear Hector who sadly we lost in April to FIP was my faithful friend, the one who greeted me at the front door, played retrieving balls like a dog, escorted me to the loo and to bed and loved his food. He was obviously too good for this World as we lost him at 3years old. His little sister Smoochie is tiny, happy and purring with Mummy and Daddy and a few close friends but still hides behind the sofa when the post comes thru the door or the doorbell rings or anyone comes to visit. Since Hector’s death the dynamics of the family have altered so much. We always used to have 3 licked clean food bowls after each meal as the other two knew that if they left anything it would be hoovered up by Hector – now they are fussy with their food and running rings around me as after losing one pussy I am anxious to see them eat well and offer more choices than a five star restaurant!

  13. Teresa says:

    Think that people who have stringent rules on exactly what traits their ragdolls shouldd have arent being realistic. All kitties are individuals just like people. The particular characteristics of a specific breed are meant to only be generalizations. Just because a cat is a ragdoll doesn’t mean 100% that this particular kitty will go limp in your arms. Neither onedof my ragdolls do that but I love them so much, I could care less. Personalities are molded by many things like their environment, socialization from their mothers and siblings as kittens, and how their forever parents interact with them.
    Have had the happiness to have cared for over 20 cats in the last 30 years. Each one had their endearing qualities and some had some not so wonderful qualities as well, just like us humans. Some were exactly like what a breed is famous for, i.e., the sweetness of Persians. I had one Persian who was very aggressive and acted very schizo. He would act like he saw things and would attack my other cat. That said, each of them was priceless to me and I loved them with all my heart because I love cats -ALL cats. I knew that there was something very wrong with my little orange Persian and kept on taking him bck to the vet until they finally found the cause for his misery – an inoperable brain tumor. It was heartbreaking to lose him no matter how different he was because I loved him for being himself even though he was different than what was characteristic to that breed.
    When someone gets a cat and then says that they have to be rehomed because they don’t fit the particular breed mold, it’s not the cat’s fault that they have unique individual personality traits. It’s the person’s fault for not understanding that.

  14. Jim says:

    Right on, Jenny. Cats are cats, like people are people. They, like we, are all different.

    It’s downright annoying when vets on Animal Planet perpetuate the myths about Ragdolls (e.g. they flop in your arms, they don’t shed, they’re just like dogs (whatever that means)).

  15. JLSW says:

    We have three Ragdolls, and they are all boys and all the same litter. Each one has their own personality. One is really a big, floppy love loaf: one is a shy, little snuggler: one is a daring and disobedient acrobat. I love them all and am glad they are individuals.

    Your twin argument is an excellent example and should be heeded by people that clone their pets. There is no guarantee that the resulting animal will be anything like the animal they are cloned from.

  16. Beth says:

    I had two Ragdoll boys, rescues from different circumstances and different parts of the country. Their appearance was almost identical – I even have pictures of them posing in the same positions – but their personalities were nothing alike. Gizmo was a feral kitten found in an alley, slowly accepted me as his person. I never knew Moosie’s complete background but I got him from most peculiar people. Gizmo was a total “scaredy cat” while Moosie was the opposite at first, very aggressive. Gizmo passed away before I got Moosie; I wish they could’ve know each other. Both eventually learned to trust or at least tolerate my immediate family and friends. Both were entirely devoted to me just as I was to them. I loved them so much!

  17. patricia says:

    i think you said it jenny. and if people want a list of qualities and can’t deal with anything other than those exact qualities, they need to go buy a robot cat they can program. i love ALL cats, because they are cats..and i’m glad they are all different and special and wonderful. i think this snobbery about certain breeds is a joke. people that are like that are like that about many things and for me, it’s a total turnoff. i didn’t join this forum because i have ragdolls. i don’t have ragdolls. i think one of my cats might be but he is black and white so from what i understand he doesn’t qualify. he has all the “charateristics” that i hear about. i could care less. i didn’t join the site because of a breed of cat. i joined because i found so much information on how to care for and love my cats.. in the most delightful format i have ever experienced anywhere, from someone that obviously loves her cats very much. i love charlie and trigg because they are cats. they are funny, sweet, smart, wonderful cats. what breed they are doesn’t mean shit to me.

  18. Callegirl says:

    Hi Jenny I just had to say I LOVE that picture!!! I agree with everyone,my Calle does some i suppose rag doll things like wanting to be with you all the time and she does a great flop but she does not like to be held:( and is not a lap cat. But I love her dearly so its okay with me that she does what makes her happy:)

  19. Ragdoll Mommy says:

    Tadpole was the perfect Ragdoll, and he was just like how they say Ragdolls are like. But yes, Nico and Anya are nothing like Tadpole was and Tadpole was nothing like Nico and Anya are. But here are some stereotypes: Ragdolls don’t shed (myth). Ragdolls love kids (can be a myth).

  20. Dementia Boy says:

    William Butler Blake Shakes Yeats DID fit the Ragdoll stereotype–except for shedding. I miss those dandelion puffs.

    We could do anything to William–not that we did–and he didn’t mind. According to my daughter, “everyone hates Jolie,” both human and animal, but not William. They were best friends, although Jolie treated him like &#!+.

    He loved being held and cuddled. He loved being alive. He would flop at a moment’s notice, sometimes using the flop as a means of civil disobedience. (“She’s going to move me from the kitchen; therefore, I’ll flop and she won’t be able to pick me up.”)

    He was more dog-like than my dogs, Lhasas, who were very cat-like. He was a good cat.

  21. Deborah Easley says:

    I agree Jenny, each cat is special and will not fit the “Ragdoll profile” perfectly. My two Scottish Folds were as different as their color-one black, the other a van. When I picked up my first Ragdoll last July, I had read all the info on their personality and thought I was prepared. The breeder told me they don’t like heights and would not climb on counters or the table. Well, Jazzy disproved that thought within 48 hours! He’s a climber, the higher the better. He doesn’t really flop only relaxes some. He does follow me everywhere including the shower. He loves playing in any water he can find. He doesn’t want to be held but I think it could be just his age-he was a year old last month. He’s too busy playing and getting into things to be held. I’m picking up my second Ragdoll next month. He’s a mink and I cannot wait to see his personality. I hope he keeps laughing as much as Jazz but he doesn’t I’ll still love him with all my heart!

  22. Sandra Harris says:

    My Pearl Bailey is nine. I got her in April. She’s a seal bicolor and beautiful.I had profiled a cat for me as an older person (52), and ragdolls came Up. I didn expect her to be a certain way exactly but iI was told she would flop when you came near her for a tummy rub an she does so prettily. Her voice is soft and she doesnt talk much except when i come in to greet her. When i ask her something it sounds like she says hmm? SheShe’ll bump me with her head when she wants attention and says hmmm? She’s not a lap cat and she’ll let me pick her up when she feels like it. We play catch and fetch and she follows me everywhere. My Pearl Bailey is perfect. She’s the most fun and interesting cat I’ve ever had. Im blessed she picked me.

  23. Mary Hughes says:

    My husband & I have two, 2.5 yr old Ragdolls, born three days apart by different breeders. We have owned 11 cats over the past 36 years, and I can tell you these two Ragdolls are very different in disposition than the previous 9 domestics. It’s difficult to articulate what makes them so unique – they are more interested in their “people” and engage with us more than our other cats ever did. They are still playful and inquisitive – poking their noses into any cabinet or box that is opened, climbing the attic pull-down stairs if they can get away with it, playing with their cat toys. They want to be in the middle of whatever you are doing, and will immediately climb any step ladder that’s erected.

    I’ve never had cats that are so easy to handle: easy to give medicines to, easy to clip nails, easy to brush. They are so “laid back”. They simply do not have the “shred” response. They don’t attack my arms when we play.

    FLOPPY CATS FLOP: My ragdolls do not go limp when picked up – in fact, they abhor being picked up and will dart away if you get too close. Unless of course you are lying in bed…then they want to be rubbed and will flop onto their backs and spread their legs for a tummy massage. Absolutely, my previous cats would shred your arm if you tried to touch their bellies. My ragdolls do tend to flop over when “sitting down”, so they’ll follow you into a different room, pick a place and flop down. They’ll stay, and watch you, until you make any kind of move that indicates you might want to pick them up, then they move away. They are not lap-cats, but they do want to be in the same room with you.

    RAGDOLLS ARE LIKE DOGS: Ours come to the door when we arrive, much like a dog might do. I wonder if that’s more of a desire to dart out into the yard than to greet us, though. They are kept indoors. These are the first cats we’ve kept indoors and although part of me believes it’s mean to keep them confined, I have 36 years of experience with cat fights, fleas, slaughtered wildlife, and dirty coats to know it’s the best decision. They have a cat-door that lets them onto a secured, screened porch, so they get lots of “outside”.

    RAGDOLLS DON’T SHED: One ragdoll is long-haired and she sheds profusely. At least twice a day I pick up floating hair-bunnies, and we have given up trying to completely rid our clothing of long white hairs. Her hair is ground into my car seat, shows up along the edges of my yoga mat, coats the bottom of anything hanging in my closet, and every piece of furniture we own (except for leather upholstery). The other ragdoll has medium hair, and although he sheds, it’s not as noticeable. But all cats shed. All animals with hair shed, humans included. I tell people that I pull out the vacuum every Saturday and “suck up a kitten”, meaning I collect enough hair to make another cat.

    RAGDOLLS ARE BEAUTIFUL: Yes, they are. Some of my previous 9 “alley cats” were pretty, but these two ragdolls are drop-dead gorgeous. Their blue eyes are remarkable. But my female is really just a glorified calico and the male is what they call an out-breed – he’s a mink. Do I care? Certainly not. If you take any two domestic felines and breed them, at least one kitten will be an orange tabby (“flame”), one will be a calico (“Tortie”), one will be white with spots (“bi-color”) and one black (“mink”). All of them are ragdolls, if their parents were ragdolls.

    I’m sorry, Jenny, that you get to hear the horror stories of irresponsible owners. That is a part of the human race that I don’t think will ever be eradicated, as much as the animal shelters wish it would. People are careless, people are ignorant; the results are very frustrating. Both of the breeders I used have a policy that they will take back any cat that needs to be re-homed. I’m sure there’s a home found for every ragdoll that’s abandoned…they are just too beautiful not to steal someone’s heart!

  24. Laura says:

    Very well said and so, so true—as exemplified by Wendell, the Raggie of the Month, as well as so many of the delightful kitties on this site.

    It’s true that most breeders—not only for Ragdolls, but for all pedigree cats and dogs—breed for temperament. But like people, our kids are individuals.

    To paraphrase from “Forrest Gump,” Ragdolls are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get…but you know it’ll be DELICIOUS!

    Right, Jeh-NI?

    • June says:

      I think that you are absolutely correct! No two cats of any breed are the same… just as no two people are the same. Each are individuals! I’ve had Siamese since I was 16 and am now a lady of “mature years”, and I can tell you that I’ve had different personality traits in all of my Meezers over the years, but I loved every one of them! It is appalling to me that you would get rid of a devoted friend just because he/she doesn’t fit the breed standard!!! Love each one for their individualities and be satisfied.

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