Health and Behaviour
Often, people think that getting a cat begins and ends with
selecting a kitten and bringing it home. The fact is, this
attitude couldnít be further from the truth ! A kitten is a
baby, and like all babies, you have to teach and set limits
if you want an adult cat that is socialized and well
behaved. One of the biggest reasons that adult cats are
surrendered to shelters is because of behavioural problems
that make it too difficult to share your home with your
best by copying their parents. Here two Ragdoll females (
Lily feeding and Hope in the bottom right of the photo)
ensure that the kittens are clean and fed. Kittens start
copying their parents as young as three weeks of age.
If you want a well behaved cat, start
right Ė be selective when choosing your kitten. Most
pedigree cats are not made available to their purr-ever
families until they are 10 Ė 12 weeks of age. This is
because reputable breeders want their kittens to have a much
opportunity as possible to learn their socialization skills
This does not mean
that if your non-pedigree kitten is 6 Ė 8 weeks of age that
they canít be taught adequate behaviour, it simply means
that you as the owner must act as a substitute parent.
Photo of Phantom, one of a
of four I hand raised
from a few days old.
Sometimes you must be
parent to a kitten in more ways than one. Breeding involves
risks, one of which is that the mother can die during birth
or be too ill to care for the kittens. If that happens,
round the clock care and bottle feeding is the only way to
save the kittens. Do you want to risk the life of your cat
with a litter of kittens that may kill her ?
Behaviour tips :
kitten is a baby Ė and like all babies, needs to be taught
limits. Try these tricks :
your kitten biting, blow sharply into their mouth. This
causes a reflex swallow action and they let go. They donít
like the feel either, and soon stop.
yourself a water pistol. Snacking and yelling only make the
cat scared of you. If you see kitty doing something wrong,
squirt them with a water pistol. They will not associate
the unpleasant squirt with you, just the behaviour.
reward bad behaviour. If your cat consistently jumps on the
meal table begging for food and you feed them, then they
associate the jumping behaviour with being fed. Instead,
say ďNOĒ firmly, and lift them down. If they persist, put
them in another area and shut the door. This way, they
associate the bad behaviour with missing out on all the
need to scratch, to help control claw growth. If you donít
give them a suitable, stable post, theyíll make their own Ė
usually on your good furniture. Get a good scratch post and
theyíll leave the rest of your things alone. In Australia
declawing is illegal, as well it should be around the
world. We prohibit declawing in our contract and will not
place kittens otherwise. It is not necessary, it is a
barbaric amputation of your cats toes. Cats that are
declawed can't defend themselves, become withdrawn as a
result of the mutilation and many develop behaviour problems
- such as not using litter trays because it's now too
painful to dig in the litter. If you can't deal with the
fact that cats have claws, then don't have one. Mutilation
is not the answer.
gets up too early in the morning, you may need to adjust
their sleeping routine. When you see Puss dosing off early
in the evening gently wake them and play with them. An
hours additional wake-up time means an extra hour they will
sleep the next morning. Iíve found it works quite well, and
they soon adjust to the new sleep pattern.
vaccinate our cats. In Australia, vaccines are placed
through a rigorous testing procedure to gain approval and we
are confident that they are safe to use based on the current
scientific literature. We use killed (inactivated) products
only, as the Ragdoll breed is known to be sensitive to live
(activated) and modified-live vaccines. We remain at the
vet for some time after vaccinations in case anti-histamines
are needed to control an adverse reaction. This has
happened once or twice since we started breeding, and the
cats in question are now a healthy happy neuters and speys.
They now receive antihistamines as a routine part of their
kittens develop a small pea-sized lump at the site under the
skin where they were immunised. This lump will subside in
about a week, and does not cause any discomfort to the cat.
Some cats get it, some donít Ė it depends entirely on the
Ragdolls are sensitive to anesthetics. Isoflurane (gas) is
suitable agent for all speying and neutering procedures.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Ketamine and Domidor are
not suitable for Ragdolls. Make sure you talk to your vet
about what drugs will be used. In many cases if they are not
familiar with the idiosyncracies of the breed, you will know
more than they do. You need to work out between you the
best approach for your cat.
Ragdolls are in general a robust, healthy breed with a life
span of 12 to 15 years. As with any other animal,
spontaneous health problems may occur in individual cats or
if the breeding program is not geneticially diverse, but we
have not experienced this with our program. We screen our
cats, scrutinise pedigrees and calculate in-breeding co-efficients
prior to each mating to ensure that as far as we are able to
control it, problems will not arise.
lose their baby teeth at around about 15 to 20 weeks of
age. Some kittens breeze through this, some donít. ALL
however, will want something to chew on. If you donít want
this to be the electrical cord for your TV, provide an
alternative. The cardboard tube out of a toilet roll is
good, so is a tightly rolled up piece of paper. You may
find teeth on the floor, or your kitten may seem to be
drooling a little. This is normal. If your kitten seems to
be off their food for more than a day or appears to have a
temperature or be lethargic, however, a trip to the vet just
to check may be in order.
Sometimes Puss may wake up with one eye seemingly glued
shut. Donít panic Ė they probably have sleep in their eyes
thatís caught the eyelid hairs. Just wipe the eye with a
damp cotton bud and loosen the material, and youíll have two
baby blues looking back at you. If the eye looks red or
swollen, or Puss isnít opening it fully, check there is no
hair in the eye. If you canít see any irritant, or the
problem persists, a trip to the vet is in order.