Name Explained: Why Ragdoll Cats Are Called ‘Ragdolls’

If you’ve ever owned a ragdoll cat, you’ll know exactly why they got their name.

Ragdolls are known for their friendly, docile and laid-back temperament and it’s this behaviour that contributes greatly to their identity.

Ragdoll cats are called ‘ragdolls’ due to the way they flop in your arms when held. Much like a ragdoll toy, which goes limp when you pick it up, ragdoll cats will do exactly the same. Their legs and body will completely relax, giving them a floppy, ragdoll-like appearance.

Ragdolls also love flopping around on the floor on their own and can often be seen rolling around on their back to try and draw affection, or simply to have fun.

Keep reading, as in this article I’ll explain how ragdolls’ breeding history has contributed to their ‘floppy’ characteristics and naming, and also provide some tips for holding ragdolls.

How Ragdoll Cats got their name

Ragdoll cats originated from California in the 1960s. They were developed by breeder Ann Baker, who crossed a long-haired Angora cat named Josephine with either a Persian, Birman or Burmese cat to create a breed that was ‘ragdoll-like’ in behavior. Hence, the ragdoll cat was born.

According to some sources, the story goes that Josephine was injured in a car accident and that the litter of kittens she birthed not long after had very docile, laid back personalities and would ‘flop’ into Baker’s arms when held.

This behaviour was carried on throughout subsequent litters, and so the ragdoll breed was created and named.

Baker developed strict breeding standards for the ragdoll breed, which included large size, gentle temperament, and a unique coat pattern.

As a result, ragdolls became popular in the United States and eventually spread to other parts of the world.

Why are Ragdoll Cats ‘floppy’?

Ragdoll cats go limp and floppy when held as a happy reaction to being shown affection. When a ragdoll is picked up, their body relaxes – due to their laid-back, calm and docile nature – and creates the limp and floppy appearance they are famous for.

As kittens, ragdolls – like all cats – are often carried by their mothers by the scruff of their necks and go limp to make this process easier.

So, ragdolls going limp may be a flow-on effect from their younger years, which has carried into adulthood.

But in the most part, ragdoll cats go floppy when held due to their relaxed, easy-going personalities and care-free nature.

Of course, not all ragdolls will go completely floppy when you pick them up – in fact, some may really dislike it and try to wriggle free at every opportunity – however the majority will.

Do Ragdoll Cats like to be held?

While ragdolls are great lap cats and will often cuddle up next to you on the couch or bed, they don’t often enjoy being picked up, held, or carried for long periods of time. Ragdolls like their own space and holding or carrying them intrudes on their comfort zone, which can annoy them.

As someone who owns a ragdoll cat, named Poppie, sometimes I can’t help but sweep her up off the floor and give her a big cuddle – which usually lasts no more than about 10 seconds before she starts squirming and demanding to be released.

She enjoys it at first, but that tolerance quickly disappears.

Of course, that tolerance level can vary greatly from ragdoll to ragdoll – some will love being nestled in the arms of their owners, sometimes for as long as you want, while others rather keep to themselves and won’t enjoy being picked up at all.

It’s important to gauge your ragdoll’s reaction when holding them – if they don’t like it, then it may be best to gently place them back on the ground and let them do their own thing.

Final message

Ragdolls are a beautiful, well-natured breed of cat that has grown to be super popular right around the world due to their relaxed and loving personalities.

Their name ‘Ragdoll’ was inspired by their limp and floppy nature, which is a result of both their physical characteristics, unique temperament but also breeding lines.

So, if you want a cat that will flop into your arms when you hold, the ragdoll is the perfect breed for you.