Originally published Jan 14, 2012
Did you know that a Ragdoll’s color changes depending on temperature? The depth of their color will depend on their internal temperature, the outside temperature, what they eat, their genetics and more.
For example, my 11-year old Ragdoll cat Charlie was much darker when he was on a dry food diet because his blood circulation to his points wasn’t as good. Now he is much lighter because he’s on a mostly wet food diet.
You may remember last year a blog post that went up about a Ragdoll kitty in Hong Kong that had lost his fur and who had lost a lot of his coloring.
Well, my Charlie man has lost some of his color, so I wanted to inquire as to why. I reached out to Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM and said,”I wanted to know if you knew why my cat Charlie’s coat has changed so drastically in color. Please see photos. He was weaned from dry food more than a year ago. The photos are labeled according to what he was eating.”
Dr. Hofve told me that, in Ragdoll cats, “Their coats change color depending on skin temperature. That’s why they have dark “points” where there the skin is coolest; there is not much insulating tissue. E.g., ears are thin, tail and legs don’t have much between skin and bone… Fat is a good insulator for the internal organs, but doesn’t have a great blood supply itself…when he lost all that fat, the skin actually got warmer because the tissue immediately underneath has a more robust blood supply…therefore lighter color. The darkest Siamese cat I ever saw came from Alaska and was hugely obese. He did lighten up some when he moved to Colorado, but he was still very dark.”
You can learn more about cat health by reading Dr. Jean’s book, The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook.
Have you seen a color change in your Ragdoll cat?
Great re-post, Jenny! I am so very glad I to learn of this information. Wow! That’s quite a change in Charlie’s coloring! We haven’t really experienced any color change in our girl, Miss Pink Sugarbelle. 🙂 <3
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3
Thanks for the very informative post. Our ragdoll’s coat started rapidly lightening and my Google search led me here. Sure enough, about a year ago we switched our cat from a mostly-dry diet to an all-canned diet. We made the change to address three health problems: bloody urine, peeing on the floor (not a great combination), and yes, obesity.
From Dr. Jean’s explanation, I think we should take her lighter coat as a good thing, right? She went from 18 lbs down to 13, so the weight is finally under control… and I guess her skin’s blood supply has improved, too.
Anyway, thanks for the insight!!
Yes, I think of it as a good thing! Was just talking to my mom about this yesterday – as she transitioned her two cats off of dry food after I did mine and hers are both Seals and lighter in color now too.
What made you change her diet to all wet? Most people don’t think that way – so wondered if your vet recommended or what.
I am pleased as punch that you did! I am so opposed to dry food for kitties.
Also, would love it if you could share her as Ragdoll of the Week and explain what you did!
yes i shall do it right now of his colour change
just read your article on ragdolls colour change. just like charlie shadow has changed colour too. instead having a cream body he has went brown like his seal colour points. i live in scotland so its always freezing here so cant make sense how his colour changed. this only happened 2 months ago but either way hasnt changed me loving him so much 🙂
michelle, it’s actually normal for what is happening to Shadow – Charlie has done the reverse of Shadow! Will you please post a photo of Shadow on Floppycats Facebook? I’d love to see his darker color – I love the dark ones!
Jenny & Geo – Got it all… Whole Food treats, Young Again wet food, Fortiflora probiotic. Heading to pet shop tomorrow with my list. Today was the first day of 3x/day feeding of wet only. Andy’s had to be spiked with 5 pieces of cat chow to tempt him to eat. I added 2 Tbsps warm water to all of their bowls and Oscar was fed far from Andy. Since everybody got the same food, I was able to leave the unfinished portions down for seconds later. Since Andy is not finishing his, I am not concerned about his eating less – yet. First things first. Andy did eat some and did lap all the water in his food, so I feel a little optimistic. And is is playful so that is good too. But his urine is still dark. Tomorrow is his x-ray. I think I will feel better after I know what is going on inside his body. Jenny, thank you so much. I will keep you in the loop.
ha ha i love it – “spiked it” with cat chow. another option in addition to mixing in warm water for it to be more “mouse body” temperature would be to smash the “cat chow”= dry food” with the back of a spoon and then mix it in with the food. then the next day only do 4 and the next 3 and the next 2 and so on until he eats it without it. whole life isn’t available in petco or petsmart that i know of, so you might need to order it online or get it at a speciality/local pet store. thanks for the update!
also, be sure to keep all dry food you have left in the fridge or somewhere they cannot smell it. otherwise it’s like torture, i guess. you can always donate leftover dry food to a shelter.
Hi Jenny –
Yeah – gotta move the dry stuff out! Andy has figured out how to open the bin – something none of my other cats have ever figured out. Are raggies a particularly smart breed? Andy seems to be particularly smart. I will use it to feed the ferals in my mother’s backyard.
Andy had his X-ray today, with good results. No stones. It did show constipation! We are working on that now too. Is that something raggies deal with, as a breed? Right now, Andy is trying to steal the package of Temptations from my pants pocket – ah, success! 🙂 I have to give him one. Smart boy. He sits, begs and comes on command for a treat. Next trick to learn is paw – inspired from one of the Raggie of the Week stories.
My local pet store (independent) carries Halo brand Liv-a-Littles, freeze dried 100% chicken breast protein treats. Once opened, he recommends storing in fridge. Oscar & Andy loved them. Predictably, Felix walked away but he may come around. The wet food is Weruva. It is ‘chicken in gravy’ and is processed in a human food plant. The first ingredient is boneless, skinless chicken breast. There are added vitamins & minerals (uh-oh). I have yet to test it. I am starting Andy with the prescription food for crystals because I am afraid of the crystals and do want them to dissolve & pass. The vet was quite adamant about it. Once his urine is clear, I will try the Weruva; in the meantime, I will compare it to the all the info/recommendations on cat info.org. The site is so full of wonderful info.
My fluffy bunny boy scared the vet’s tech to death today. She is new and Andy was a growly, hissing feral ball of fur! If I did not know him, I would have been afraid too. The vet saw thru him and scooped him right up & off to X-ray. Of course, of all days to look like a rescue from the grimy streets, today was it. Before taking him to the vet, I took him outside in the backyard for a romp. Instead of his usual roll on the cement, he ran into the garden and rolled in the dirt – and that is how he went to the vet. It really cracks me up that a cat that looks like such a cream puff is just a regular guy!
You can probably read my relief here. All the guys seem to be taking pretty easily to the 3x a day feeding schedule. The only breakout is Andy – stealing Temptations and figuring out how to open the dry food bin. His antics make me laugh. For being so bad at the vet today, he got a new toy that he loves. He has been playing with it all afternoon & evening. It’s a little ball with a red feathery attachment and when he moves it, it makes little birdie sounds. It even distracts him from thoughts of food. He has been batting and carrying and laying on it for hours now. I am going back for more. The other guys watch him with interest but can’t get near it!
Thank you for your concern, care and ideas. It is so helpful to have a knowledgable group of cat lovers to tap!
I am not sure about Ragdolls and being smart. All ours have always been smart…so maybe, but I have never heard confirmation of that.
No, I don’t think Ragdolls deal with constipation as a breed. I think cats on dry food deal with that – or cats in renal failure (as my Rags was and suffered from constipation).
Yes, I would love to teach Charlie “paw” but he is so excited for his treats that I am not sure he could calm down enough to teach it to him.
Weurva is known to be a good food. Charlie and Trigg have never liked it, otherwise I would buy it for them.
Trigg LOVES to roll in the dirt – he changes from a taupe type color to charcoal grey!
Over Christmas, I took Charlie to my parents’ house and she took her cats off of dry food months ago – but had the container (plastic one she would dump the dry food into) in the pantry still with just a tiny bit left. Lo and behold, Charlie found it (we didn’t know it at the time) – he knocked the thing over, took off the lid and ate a good portion, leaving us a nice mess of dry food to clean up.
I love when they haul around a new toy – it’s so funny. Charlie adores Neko Flies Large Kittenator to carry around.
Thanks for the updates!
I have been researching carb content in commercial cat foods (canned and dry) and I was stunned at the high levels– in even the premium foods! I understand that the high carbs (which our obligate carnivores don’t need) lead to weight gain. I am about to try a new low carb food for my boys called “Young Again.” It is touted as being as close as possible to a cat’s natural diet in terms of the balance of protein, fat, and carbs. I read about this brand at a pedigree cat yahoo group. Many breeders have posted how pleased they are with this food and the positive differences they see in their cats esp. with weight loss. Whatever you are feeding, check out the carb content which is not listed on the labels…
is it a dry food? or a wet food?
Young Again is a dry food. The company’s approach is very unique. They promise that your cat will not overeat because unlike every other kibble out there, it is designed to mimic a cat’s natural diet– truly species appropriate and balanced. Since my boys love their dry, I am going to give it a shot but still serve them high quality, low carb wet food daily as well.
Betty – keep me in the loop – I hope you continue to see improvements. And yes, one cat bullying another cat can keep them from eating!
The only color change I saw in my boys, Moosie and Gizmo, was growing much darker with age. Moosie lost some weight last fall before he passed away but kept his beautiful seal colors.
woot! woot! i hope charlie gets darker or that his color change is seasonal, but not sure – he has gotten darker this winter.
That is a huge difference in color! How much weight did your Charlie-Man loose? I just had my Andy-Boy to the vet and have a couple of issues I need to deal with. First is that he has to lose 3 lbs. That’s a lot of weight! He loves to eat and I love to feed him – it is going to be rough going for a while. I guess we will be seeing his dark mantle lighten. Second issue is that there were crystals in his urine. I am being told that he needs to be on a prescription diet and it is my only option. I do not believe it. I think those script diets sold exclusively thru vet offices are money making schemes. I will be researching diets and options to find a better/alternate path. Any info or personal experiences from this community would be greatly appreciated.
he lost 3 lbs maybe? i cannot remember. it was just his waist that i was looking for.
is Andy-Boy on dry food now? get him on wet food only and the crystals will probably stop. i suggest checking out http://www.catinfo.org
Hi Jenny – Thank you. He is on wet food but is a dry food addict. He begs for it in the clearest actions and in the past won me over by being so cute. No more. I found cat info.org tonight while I searched around for help. You are right – it is full of great info. There was info for Andy and Oscar there. Great site. Knowing that Charlie lost 3 lbs makes Andy’s diet demand easier. At 16.5 lbs, Andy is convex in the middle, where he should be concave. I really thought it was the raggie shape! He will be going on a twice a day wet food only meal regimen and I will use the probiotic named on catinfo.org to entice him. Maybe the probiotic is the taste he craves. I have a great pet shop near me & will vein there on Monday to see if he carries it. I will also add a little extra water to his food. Cat info was so full of great information. Thank you for your support and being here.
Betty, I know where you are coming from – have you read my post about Charlie being a dry food addict? i couldn’t have done it without my boyfriend – he’s a teacher and he did it over Spring Break so that I could work and not worry about the meowing Charlie. https://www.floppycats.com/transitioning-charlie-and-trigg-from-dry-food-to-wet-food-only.html We did not have luck with the probiotic mentioned on catinfo.org, but doesn’t mean you wont.
Charlie love Whole Life cat treats – you might try them to see if they would work. I haven’t met a cat yet that doesn’t love them.
Yes, a lot of people think it is a Raggie shape, as did I, but I want my kitties to live, long healthy lives with few visits to the vet…so it’s worth the heartache/headache of the transition. Only wish I would have stuck to my guns from the beginning!
Yes, catinfo.org is great, so is http://www.littlebigcat.com/about-2/
Thank you so much for all of this info. Clearly, my MLK holiday will be spent on my computer! Yes, I read your post about Charlie being a dry food addict. It was the first time I had heard it but it described Andy exactly. I had always thought that cats were crazy for the wet and only ate the dry as a snack – but not Andy – and when you described Charlie’s addiction, it hit home. I wondered what tricks the kibble companies used to hook the cats – and it was all made plain on catinfo.org.
I watched my boys interacting tonight and strongly feel that 14 yr old Oscar (not a rag) is bullying Andy. I kept O out of the kitchen while I fed Andy his wet meal, with added water, and Andy wolfed it all down. I think I am on the right track. I just hope I can get Andy feeling better soon. He is such a sweet bunny and he knows I am concerned and here to help him.
A multi-cat home is stressful when every cat has an issue!