When considering buying a ragdoll cat – or any animal, for that matter – health is always front of mind.
Purchasing a pet is a long-term investment given the upfront cost, ongoing expenses and time required to look after them, so being aware of any potential health problems is essential for would-be owners.
So, before buying a ragdoll cat, you want to know what illnesses they might be prone to.
Ragdoll cats are generally very healthy pets, however they are prone to a variety of ailments that affect all felines. This includes dental, urinary, heart or respiratory issues and even weight or joint problems. These are uncommon ailments, though, provided you look after your ragdoll properly.
While some conditions may be genetic, many other health issues that ragdolls can suffer from often arise due to improper care.
In this article, I’ll expand more on the conditions ragdolls are prone to, along with provide some actionable steps you can take to keep your cat healthy.
Note: These tips are based on research I’ve done into the topic. For professional medical advice, always consult a veterinarian.
Common ragdoll cat health conditions (and how to prevent them)
Below is a list of some of the health conditions ragdoll cats may be prone to.
Like other cats, ragdolls can develop dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
This can be prevented by providing your ragdoll with a diet that is high in moisture and low in carbohydrates, as well as brushing their teeth once every couple of weeks.
If this is too difficult, you can instead feed your cat dental treats and chew toys to help keep their teeth clean and prevent plaque from building up.
Urinary tract infections
These infections can cause ragdoll cats to urinate more frequently and sometimes be accompanied by pain or blood.
To prevent urinary tract infections, make sure your ragdoll has access to clean, fresh water at all times.
You should also keep their litter box clean to prevent your cat from holding in their urine.
If your ragdoll is prone to getting regular urinary tract infections, your veterinarian may recommend a specific diet or medication to help prevent recurrences.
Ragdoll cats can develop respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, which can cause coughing, sneezing and breathing difficulties.
Try to keep your ragdoll away from sources of pollution and irritants, such as cigarette smoke and strong odours.
This may include stopping them going outside into your backyard if they react badly to grass or natural pollens.
You should also make sure your cat is up to date on their vaccinations, as this can help prevent respiratory infections caused by viruses.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
This is a type of heart disease that can cause your ragdoll cat’s heart muscle to thicken, leading to heart failure and other serious health problems.
While this is often genetic, you can minimise the risk by making sure your ragdoll is spayed or neutered, as this can reduce their risk of developing the condition.
You should also have your cat screened for HCM by a veterinarian, if you can afford it, as early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the condition from progressing.
This condition occurs when your ragdoll cat’s hip joint does not develop properly, leading to pain and difficulty moving.
Symptoms can be exacerbated by your cat being overweight.
Ensuring your ragdoll has a balanced diet – with a mix of nutritious wet and dry food – and gets enough exercise is excellent for managing the effects of hip dysplasia by stopping them getting too heavy.
Avoiding overfeeding your cat and keeping them at a healthy weight reduces the stress on their joints.
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
This condition causes cysts to form on your ragdoll’s kidneys, which can eventually lead to kidney failure.
To help prevent PKD in your ragdoll cat, make sure they are fed a high-quality diet and stay hydrated by giving them easy access to water.
Again, if you are noticing your cat having issues urinating, refusing to eat, guarding against being held, or losing weight, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.
Ragdoll cats are prone to obesity if they do not get enough exercise and eat a balanced diet.
Overweight cats are at an increased risk for several health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease or joint issues.
You should also avoid overfeeding your ragdoll and monitor their weight regularly to ensure they stay at a healthy weight.
It is important to note that not all ragdoll cats will develop these health conditions.
However, it is important for you, as an owner or somebody planning to buy a ragdoll, to be aware of these potential issues and to put plans in place to prevent them.
Other must-dos for keeping your ragdoll cat healthy
Along with the preventative tips listed above, there are some other simple things you can implement to keep your ragdoll cat healthy and fight off any illnesses.
Ragdolls, more than other shorter-haired breeds, need regular grooming to keep them healthy.
This includes weekly brushing to prevent mats from forming; clipping of toe nails monthly to prevent ingrown nails from forming; along with ear cleaning either monthly or bi-monthly to stop excess build up of wax that can lead to infection.
I’ve written a full grooming guide that I definitely recommend you read as doing these steps consistently will keep your ragdoll healthy.
As I’ve explained in another article, ragdolls require a mix of wet and dry food in their diet.
Whole-meat-based canned food is a great wet option that provides them the healthy protein and fats they need, while dry biscuits supply the carbohydrates.
Ideally, the split should be 60% protein, 30% fat and 10% carbohydrates.
Additionally, ensuring your ragdoll has plenty of water – rather than milk – to keep them hydrated is very important.
While ragdolls are typically indoor cats, they do enjoy getting outdoors from time to time (at least my ragdoll does).
If you have a backyard, try letting your ragdoll outside from time-to-time to let them stretch their legs.
Make sure the yard is enclosed (I’ve written some tips to cat-proofing your place here) as ragdolls are good climbers and won’t pass up the opportunity to explore and escape, if given the chance.
Keeping your ragdoll active, through outdoor activities and games, helps keep their weight at a healthy level, which has positive effects on their wellbeing.
Ragdolls, like many other breeds of cats, are prone to a range of common feline health conditions.
While some are genetic, many other ailments can be prevented through proper care such as good hygiene, a balanced diet and adequate exercise.
So, in summary, yes ragdolls are prone to some health problems if they’re not looked after, but this shouldn’t deter you from buying one.
Generally, they are very happy and healthy cats that make for loyal, friendly and overall wonderful pets – and I’d definitely advocate for you getting one!