One of the most captivating things about Ragdoll cats is their magnificent coats. They come in a dazzling array of colors and patterns, but what’s even more mesmerizing is the way their coats develop and change over time, regardless of the pattern.
Ragdoll’s color progression and development are impressive. To show you how much, we will 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 age, 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’s coloration dependent on its body temperature.
Side note: Ragdoll’s color genetics are interesting. If you want to learn more about Ragdoll color genetics, The British Ragdoll Cat Club keeps a 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 makes patterns. Since there are a few different genotypes of the bicolor pattern in the Ragdoll breed, it is essential to know what you may get. In the USA, most breeders only work with the High Mitted Bicolor pattern.
Some will work with True Bicolor or Mid High White. Still, they are a more complicated 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.
How Does Body Temperature Affect the Coloration?
Most Ragdoll cats are bi-colored, and it is all due to this mutation. The fur will be darker in the areas of the body where the temperature is lower. This would include the extremities – paws and the ears’ edges. 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 noticeable, as seen in the cat’s coat. But, of course, they are generated by various factors such as age, state of health, sex, and many others.
Ragdoll Younglings Are Lighter in Color
Regardless of the color and the type of point of a Ragdoll cat, its color progression will differ 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 ages, 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 their body temp will start going down in some areas of the body. Since the extremities are the most challenging 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, the adult cat will reach a steady state of its metabolism and maintain it throughout adulthood.
This is called homeostasis. During this period, the cat’s body temperature will be varied by minimal amounts, which means that the adult Ragdoll will not display significant changes over the years.
When Ragdoll Cats Get Sick, Their Colors Might Change
There are certain illnesses, both chronic and acute, which can cause significant changes in body temperature. For instance, if a cat has a fever, its body temperature will increase. But, on the other hand, 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 evident on a Ragdoll cat’s coat. For example, if kidney disease becomes chronic, the cat’s extremities and lower area (its belly and torso) will be colder, which means it 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. This, over a more extended period, 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, this is the natural development of a cat’s metabolism and body temperature. Therefore, 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. Bring some older pictures of your cat, if possible, so the doctor can compare them. As mentioned above, some serious diseases can cause a change in body temperature. In Ragdolls, it’ll manifest itself in a color change, so your veterinarian will definitely want to look.
Do Ragdolls Get White Hair?
They do; old Raggies could get some white hairs on their coat. They usually appear all over the body but are more prominent on the cat’s face and extremities. However, cats don’t get to have full-white coats. So there are only going to be a few hairs over the years.
As you can see, Ragdoll’s color progression and development are 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 about the changes you’ve seen in our comments 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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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,