One of the most amazing things about Ragdoll cats is their outstanding coat. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, but what is even more interesting is that, regardless of the pattern, the color of a Ragdoll will change noticeably over time.
Ragdoll color progression and development is absolutely impressive. To show you just how much, we are going to walk you through the main changes in color that can be seen in a Ragdoll's life.
All Ragdoll cats are born white
At the very beginning, all the Ragdoll kittens will be covered with white fur all over their bodies. Then, as they get older, some parts of their fur will get colored and the pattern will become visible. Why does this happen? The short answer is that it is all in their genes.
Ragdolls display a genetic mutation that affects an enzyme in the metabolic pathway between tyrosine and the final pigment, which is sensitive to temperature. This mutation makes a ragdoll' cat coloration dependent on its body temperature.
Side note: Ragdoll colour genetics are definitely interesting. If you would like to learn more about Ragdoll color genetics, The British Ragdoll Cat Club keeps a nice Ragdoll Cat Pattern/Colour Predictions table.
It allows you to put in the colors each breeding cat may carry. Another great thing about this site is it also does pattern. Since there are a few different genotypes of the bicolor pattern in the Ragdoll breed, it is important to know what you may get. In the USA, most breeders work with the High Mitted Bicolor pattern only. There are some that will work with True Bicolor or Mid High White, but they are a more difficult pattern to work with as they carry more white and a colorpoint mate is needed to control the white spotting gene. A Mitted to Mitted breeding will produce all 3 patterns of Mitted, Colorpoint, and "High Mitted" Bicolor.
Other websites that will show you color and patterns are here.
- Ragdoll Fanciers Club International Color Chart
- Ragdoll International Patterns and Colors Color Prediction Chart
- Ragdoll International Patterns and Colors Color Prediction Chart page 2
- Ragdoll International Patterns and Colors Color Prediction Chart page 3
How does body temperature affect the coloration?
Most Ragdoll cats are bi-colored and it is all due to this mutation. In the areas of the body where the temperature is lower, such as the extremities - the paws, the edges of the ears - the fur will be darker in color, while the areas where the temperature is higher - the torso - the fur will be lighter in color.
You could say that a Ragdoll's colors are a map of its body temperature and you would be right. The differences in local temperature from one area to another are quite noticeable, as seen in the cat's coat, and they are generated by various factors such as age, state of health, sex, and many others.
Take a look at our article on how color-pointed Ragtdolls change colors over time to see just how big the difference can be.
Ragdoll Younglings Are Lighter In Color
Regardless of the color and the type of point of a Ragdoll cat, its color progression will be different over time. While it is a kitten, it will go from full white to white with some dark-colored areas in the extremities. Then, as the kitten gets older, the darker areas grow alongside it to develop its pattern.
Why does this happen? Again, it's all about body temperature. Kittens and young cats have accelerated metabolisms, which makes their body temperature high.
As they grow up, their metabolism starts to slow down progressively, which means that they body temp will start going down in some areas of the body. Since the extremities are hardest areas to irrigate with blood, they are the coldest in the body, which you can clearly see in a Ragdoll's coat.
Ragdoll Adults Will Maintain a Steady-Colored Coat Over Many Years
When cats reach adulthood, the changes in their metabolism are fewer and fewer. After the kitten's development period is over, the adult cat will reach a steady state of its metabolism and maintain it throughout its adulthood.
This is called homeostasis. During this period, the cat's body temperature will be varied by extremely small amounts, which means that the adult Ragdoll will not display major changes over the years.
Related Ragdoll Cat Reading:
Do Ragdoll Cats Need to Be Groomed Often?
When Ragdoll Cats Get Sick, Their Colors Might Change
There are certain illnesses, both chronic and acute, which can cause major changes in body temperature. For instance, if a cat has a fever, then its body temperature will be increased, and if it suffers from kidney or liver failure, it will have a lower body temp than it should.
Especially in chronic diseases, the change in body temperature becomes very visible on a Ragdoll cat's coat. If the kidney disease becomes chronic, for instance, the cat's extremities and lower area (its belly and torso) will be colder, which means that they will get darker.
On the other hand, a chronic infection that might give out a sub-febrile state will cause the body temp to increase, which, over a longer period of time, will lead to lighter colors.
Old Ragdoll Cats Get Darker in Color
When cats get older, their metabolism slows down more and more. This will generate a radical color progression and the cat's extremities will get even darker than they were.
Moreover, the darker areas will get larger and larger, all pointing out the areas where the local circulation is hardened. However, please note that this is the natural development of a cat's metabolism and body temperature. All of these changes are normal, up to a certain extent.
Is a Sudden Change in Color a Cause for Alarm?
Yes, it is. If your Ragdoll cat suddenly changes its coloration pattern, you should take it to the vet and point out the changes. If you can, bring some older pictures of your cat so that the doctor has a means of comparison.
As mentioned above, there are some serious diseases that can cause a change in body temperature, which in Ragdolls you can see as a change in color, so your veterinarian will definitely want to take a look.
Do Ragdolls Get White Hair?
Yes, they do, old Raggies could get some white hairs in their coat. They usually appear all over the body, but they are more prominent on the cat's face and extremities. However, cats don't get to have full-white coats, you there are only going to be a few hairs over the years.
As you can see, Ragdoll color progression and development is extremely impressive. From full white to a detailed pointed pattern, Raggies change their colors radically. How has your Ragdoll cat changed over time? Does it look even remotely similar to back when it was a kitten? Tell us all about the changes you've seen in our comments section below.
**A HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR AWESOME READERS WHO SENT IN RAGDOLL CAT COLOR PROGRESSION PHOTOS - showing their kitties when they were kittens to today** Enjoy them below =)
Seal Colorpoint Progression
Seal Color Progression - Mitted
Seal Color Progression - Bicolor
Seal Color Progression - Lynx
Blue Colorpoint Development
Blue Development - Mitted
Blue Ragdoll Cat Development - Bicolor
Blue Progression - Lynx
Flame Color Development
Seal Mink Mitted Progression
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