Scratch Match: Can Ragdoll Cats Defend Themselves In A Fight?

Ragdoll cats are known for their docile, fun-loving, gentle nature – but can they defend themselves if attacked?

As an owner, you obviously never want to put your pet in a position where it may feel threatened, or vulnerable to violence from other animals – it’s a big reason why you should only let your ragdoll outside in a safe, enclosed, supervised environment when no other cats or dogs are present.

But sometimes, through situations out of your control, there may come a time where your ragdoll will need to defend itself – the question is, can it do it?

Yes, ragdoll cats can defend themselves when attacked, but not very well. Ragdolls are domesticated, indoor house cats who aren’t violent in nature – to the point where much of their natural feline instincts, such as how to ward off aggressors, has been supressed.

Essentially, if your ragdoll gets into a fight against another cat or, even worse, a dog, they will certainly try to defend themselves, however they’re unlikely to do very well (especially if the other animal is particularly aggressive).

In this article, I’ll explain more about ragdoll cats’ personality to help you understand how well they can defend themselves.

Can ragdoll cats defend themselves?

Yes, ragdoll cats can defend themselves, but not as well as some other cat breeds. Typically, cats who spend more time outdoors retain the natural feline instincts needed for fighting back well against aggressors. Ragdolls, however, are domesticated and due to their extended time indoors, have lost much of those defensive instincts.

For example, my mother-in-law owns two cats, both of whom spend the majority of their time outdoors when she’s not home – and I can tell you, they are two very different personalities when compared to our ragdoll, Poppie.

For example, they’ll chase and hunt birds, whereas Poppie – when we let her outdoors – is scared of them.

Similarly, whenever we bring them all together (usually when we go away on holidays and need somewhere for Poppie to stay), they will be reluctant to mingle or interact much, whereas Poppie is usually keen to play.

Essentially, any indoor cats – ragdolls especially – are going to, usually, be less capable of defending themselves when attacked, simply for the fact they rarely have to use these skills in their day-to-day lives due to their safe environments.

Can ragdoll cats fight?

Yes, ragdoll cats can fight. Like all felines, ragdolls will bite and claw at other animals – or even humans – if they feel threatened. This is their defence mechanism against attacks. Ragdolls may not fight well, but they will certainly defend themselves when required.

For all the reasons stated above, ragdoll cats don’t fight as well as outdoor cats – firstly, because they don’t typically need to; and secondly, because it’s not in their nature to.

Ragdolls are docile cats and will usually prefer a ‘flight’ instead of ‘fight’ approach to conflict, and opt to avoid confrontation where possible.

Another thing to note is that because ragdolls are regularly groomed (well, they should be if you’re caring for them properly), it’s likely their claws will have been trimmed and aren’t as sharp as what they might be had they lived in the wild.

This robs ragdolls of one of their key defensive weapons should they ever get in a fight, which is another reason why it’s best as an owner to ensure you keep your cat away from situations that might create conflict.

Are ragdoll cats strong?

No, ragdoll cats aren’t very strong. Known as ‘floppy’ cats, ragdolls aren’t a physically intimidating breed, despite how large they can grow to. While they are nimble and decent climbers, ragdolls aren’t super strong and can be overpowered by more dominant cats.

This, of course, isn’t to say that ragdolls are weak, either.

If you’ve ever tried holding a ragdoll cat for a cuddle for an extended period of time, you’ll know that after a short while they’ll get sick of it and begin to try and break free of your grasp.

Ragdolls, at least in my experience, are strong enough when they need to be – and can certainly wriggle and squirm enough to escape your hold.

But, in terms of comparing strength against other cat breeds (particularly outdoor cats), ragdolls aren’t at the top of the food chain.

Are ragdoll cats aggressive?

No, ragdoll cats are not aggressive. Ragdolls are one of the most loving, friendly, docile, well-mannered cat breeds in the world. They love showing affection and will look to avoid conflict at almost all costs. The only time ragdolls may be aggressive is if they feel threatened and have no way to escape the situation.

I can’t ever think of an occasion over the past five years where our ragdoll, Poppie, has been aggressive.

Ragdolls typically spend most of their day lounging around or sleeping, and are very placid and relaxed by nature (which is why they go limp when you pick them up).

That being said, if a ragdoll feels threatened and has no way to escape the situation, they will resort to their defensive techniques – that being hissing, scratching or biting.

However, this is extremely rare and you’ll likely never see your ragdoll display this behaviour if you keep them safe and away from threats.

Do ragdolls get along with other cats?

Ragdolls will, generally, get along with other cats. Ragdolls will usually do best with other ragdolls, however they’ve also been known to share their home with other cat breeds without too much trouble. If your ragdoll starts acting uncomfortable around other cats, it’s best to remove them from the situation.

Ideally, if you want two cats, it’s best to buy ragdolls in pairs as kittens and raise them alongside one another – that way they can bond as they grow older together.

If you have an adult ragdoll and are looking to introduce another cat into the mix – either a similar long-haired breed or a short haired breed – it’s important to monitor how your ragdoll reacts.

Some will enjoy the company and get along with the other cat just fine, however others – especially ragdolls who have ruled the roost for some time, and may get a little jealous at you starting to divide your attention – may not.

If your ragdoll begins acting out or playing rough towards the other cat, it may be best to either keep them separate or spend some time assimilating them with each other.

Do ragdoll cats bite?

Ragdoll cats will only bite if they feel threatened, or want you to stop touching them. Often, ragdolls will give you a ‘love bite’ – that being, a very soft nibble – to indicate they no longer want to be cuddled, or touched. Ragdolls will only give you a full bite if they feel extremely threatened and unsafe.

Our cat, Poppie, will give me a little nibble on the hand whenever I try to rub her belly when she’s trying to rest, or if I touch her tail (she hates that).

But in terms of a full-on bite, this has never happened in the five years we’ve had her – and I’m sure other ragdoll owners would have a similar story.

Ragdolls are gentle and loving and will have no need to bite unless they feel they are in danger – for example, if you introduce a foreign animal (such as a loud, overactive dog into the home), or if other cats decide to play too rough.

The majority of the time, however, ragdolls won’t bite and are generally well-behaved, friendly and docile.

Final message

So, to answer the question ‘can ragdoll cats defend themselves’, the answer is: yes, just not very well.

Ragdolls don’t have the natural feline instincts that other cat breeds do – especially those who spend most of their days roaming around outside – and as such, this makes them less equipped to fight off aggressors.

If threatened, ragdolls will attempt to defend themselves by hissing, biting or scratching, but because this isn’t their natural behaviour, it’s likely other stronger animals may overpower them in a fight.

The best thing to do as an owner is to keep your ragdoll out of situations – particularly when other animals are involved – where they may feel in danger, or vulnerable.