Ragdoll Cat Health Problems

The ragdoll cat breed appeals to many because of their laid back attitude and affectionate nature. However, there are health issues specific to this breed of which you should be aware. Ragdolls enjoy time spent with a human. They happily follow their owners around, love to cuddle and tend to be with you whenever possible. This does make it easier to monitor your pet's behavior alerting you to signs that something isn't quite right.

Grooming Issues with a Ragdoll Cat

While not a troublesome health issue, ragdoll cat's long coat will need daily brushing. The undercoat can tangle easily making life uncomfortable for the cat. Large mats and tangles will make the cat uncomfortable if it's in an area pressing against him. The mats of fur can also irritate the skin because the fur traps oils and dirt between the mat and the skin. In addition, the cat may spend extra time licking that area in an attempt to remove the mat.

Starting from kittenhood, spend time brushing your pet daily. Don't force him to sit still because that will only make him fearful of brushing sessions. Work on your cat's coat for as long as he will tolerate it. Later go back and work on another section of the body.

Hairballs Are Problems for a Ragdoll Cat

Another benefit to keeping your ragdoll cat brushed is the elimination of hairballs. Because their fur is longer, hairballs are a common issue with this breed. Hairballs can cause blockages in the intestines leading to serious issues. Frequently brushing away shedding fur keeps your cat from getting hairballs.

Heart Problems in a Ragdoll Cat

The ragdoll breed does seem to have a higher susceptibility towards Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This disease occurs when the outer muscle of the heart thickens up. It becomes so thick that the outer wall stiffens and fails to contract properly. As a result, blood doesn't move into the heart chambers correctly.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy affects cats of all ages. Usually the disease is discovered suddenly during a stressful event or period of extreme activity, usually when the heart rate increases. Symptoms include:

  • Appetite decrease

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Depression

  • Fainting

  • Increase in gagging

  • Lethargy

  • Panting/faster breathing

There is no cure for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, but medications can prolong the cat's life. Ask your breeder if they've screened for the HCM genetic mutation to eliminate the chance of purchasing a kitten that may develop this troublesome heart ailment.

Feline Mucopolysaccharidosis

Some studies find that ragdoll cats, specifically those whose ancestry traces back to Australia, have a higher risk for carrying the Feline Mucopolysaccharidosis VI gene. The disease occurs because of a deficiency of arylsulfatase B within the body, particular connective tissue within the eye leading to vision issues. The deficiency also affects joints and left untreated can cause mobility problems and even paralysis. Current treatment options include bone marrow transplants and enzyme replacement therapy.

Before purchasing a ragdoll kitten, ask the reputable breeder if the cats have been screened for Feline Mucopolysaccharidosis genes. Most cats are healthy, but it pays to be cautious.