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Ragdoll cat’s health issues—overview and prevention

Ragdoll cats seem like a sturdy breed, with their large frame and muscular physique. But, like most purebred felines, the amicable raggedy cat is susceptible to certain ailments, courtesy of their genetic make-up. 

So, what are a Ragdoll cat’s health issues you can expect? In this article, we’ll explore the genetic and acquired disorders most likely to trouble the robust feline and look for the best way to prevent them. 

What health problems can Ragdoll cats have?

As a breed, Ragdolls are quite healthy, with an average lifespan of 12–15 years. With proper care, the friendly feline can last well beyond the expectancy.

Despite their sturdy build, Ragdolls aren’t immune to genetic and acquired diseases. Like other pedigree pets, the gentle giants can struggle with certain disorders throughout their lives.

The most common Ragdoll cat health problems include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  3. Urinary tract disease
  4. Indigestion caused by hairballs
  5. Feline obesity

Heart disease

Roughly 30% of Ragdolls are born with a congenital heart defect that puts them at risk of cardiac disease. One disorder that afflicts Ragdolls at a higher rate than other breeds is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the medical term for the thickening of the heart muscles, i.e. the ventricles. If left undiagnosed, HCM can wear the heart muscle down, decreasing the organ’s ability to pump blood. Over time, the disease can lead to:

  • Heart failure
  • Thromboembolism
  • Sudden death

HCM is somewhat hard to catch since many cats can be asymptomatic for years. With Ragdolls, it’s best to look out for signs of acute heart failure, such as lethargy and breathing difficulties. In case of blood clotting, your pet will experience acute pain and even paralysis in the body part where the blockage is occurring.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

Some cats are born with an abnormal gene that causes polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Although Persians have the highest incidence of the disorder, Ragdolls are also considered a risk group.

Polycystic kidney disease causes the formation of multiple cysts on the feline’s kidneys. The pockets of fluid first appear in kittenhood and continue to grow as the cat matures. The cysts can become so large that they impair the cat’s kidney function.

The symptoms of PKD are similar to other renal diseases. Ragdolls who are born with the abnormal gene can suffer from:

The treatment often includes a combination of dietary adjustments, fluid therapy, and nausea medication.

Urinary tract disease

Urinary tract diseases, like cystitis and bladder stones, are common Ragdoll cat health issues. The breed can develop inflammations and infections in all parts of the urinary system, including the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra. 

Most urinary tract diseases have similar symptoms, such as:

  • Increased urination
  • Pain when urinating
  • Difficulties urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Intensive licking of the genitals
  • Urination outside of the litter box or in other unusual places

Depending on the nature of the disease, urinary problems can be treated with lots of fluids, antibiotics, and nutritional therapy.

Indigestion caused by hairballs

The thicker the coat, the bigger the hairball! Ragdolls sometimes get bellyaches from the accumulation of hair in their intestines.

Source: @catsunity.co

Among their most recognisable characteristics is the Ragdoll’s luscious fur, which they tend to regularly. Like other long-haired breeds, the gentle giant ingests a lot of hair when grooming. The fur accumulates in the cat’s stomach, forming a clump that’s normally coughed out. 

Ragdolls have a fluffy coat, so the furballs are bigger and harder to regurgitate. The excess hair in their stomach can cause:

Hairballs are the most common cause of gastrointestinal health problems in Ragdoll cats, but they can be minimised with grooming and healthy eating habits!

Feline obesity 

Ragdolls are prone to obesity, a nutritional disorder that significantly affects their quality of life. The robust felines have a naturally large frame, so they tend to eat more than the average-sized cat. Both male and female Ragdolls can weigh over nine kilos!

Ragdolls are fairly inactive, even by indoor cats’ standards. A sedentary lifestyle combined with an increased appetite often results in unhealthy weight gain

While a fluffy, pudgy Ragdoll is undeniably cute, they’re also more susceptible to acquired diseases. Overweight cats can develop:

Prevention is the most effective way to battle feline obesity. Ragdolls need regular exercise, low-calorie food, and controlled portions to stay fit. 

How to keep your Ragdoll cat healthy

Ragdolls don’t need much to be happy and healthy. With the proper diet and a little exercise, your pet will be around for a long time!

Source: @jumeditasragdolls

The majority of health problems in Ragdolls can be preempted with proper:

  1. Grooming
  2. Exercise
  3. Nutrition

Groomer humour—how to take care of a Ragdoll’s fur

Ragdolls have a beautiful, silky coat that isn’t prone to matting or knotting. Even with fine fur, the gentle giants still need to be brushed regularly. Proper grooming is key for hairball control in all long-haired breeds, including Ragdolls. 

Because the loose strands are removed with a brush or comb, the cat ingests fewer hairs when they groom. The furballs are much smaller as a result and less likely to cause indigestion. 

A Ragdoll’s fur isn’t particularly dense, so they need softer tools. It’s best to buy a slicker brush with angled soft bristles. Using a steel comb can harm the feline’s skin.

You should start grooming from an early age so that they can grow accustomed to the sensation. The good news is that Ragdoll is an incredibly affectionate breed and will most likely enjoy the routine!

How often should you brush the friendly feline? Ragdoll kittens aren’t as hairy as fully grown cats, so they don’t need to be brushed more than two to three times per month. Once their coat reaches its full volume, Ragdolls should be groomed at least once or twice per week.

Regular exercise is worth the weight

Unlike Maine Coons and Siamese cats who love to wander, Ragdolls are best kept as indoor pets. The breed’s inherent naivete makes them vulnerable to the dangers of the outside world.

Since Ragdolls spend most of their day lazing about the house, they need regular exercise to stay fit. Daily workout sessions will also keep them at a healthy weight.

Ragdolls should have at least 20 minutes of active play per day to be in tip-top shape. The gentle giants are quick learners, so you can teach them different interactive games. For example, Ragdolls love to play fetch and will happily chase after a ball for hours!

Playing will keep your Ragdoll active and allow them to spend quality time with their favourite person—you!

Source: Kanashi

Don’t be easy meat—provide proper nutrition

A well-balanced diet is vital for the prevention and treatment of common Ragdoll cat health problems. Given their genetic predisposition for kidney disease and urinary tract inflammations, the gentle giants need food that’s:

  1. Hydrating
  2. Rich in animal protein
  3. Low in phosphorus

Since the breed is prone to feline obesity, they should avoid certain foods with high-calorie content. Ragdolls are indoor-only cats, and they don’t need more than 40 calories per one kilo of their overall body weight.

Ragdolls shouldn’t be on a dry-food-only diet because it doesn’t fit their specific biological needs. Cats who eat kibble for every meal are more likely to become obese, especially if they have the genes for it. Instead, regular servings of wet food will deliver enough fluids, protein, and other nutrients essential for their health. 

Wet food is less processed than kibble, so it has a better bioavailability!

Keep your Ragdoll healthy with Untamed!

This box for me, yes?

Image (c) Untamed

Untamed follows the feline natural diet closely, ensuring each meal is:

  • Rich in protein—One tin of Untamed food has twice as much animal protein as the industry standard. All Untamed products are entirely free from sugar, grain, or similar high-carb ingredients
  • Made with whole meat—We use human-grade meat in our feline delicacies. Your cat can choose from various poultry, fish, and seafood dishes, made with:
    • Chicken breast 
    • Chicken liver
    • Duck breast
    • Salmon fillet
    • Tuna steak
    • Sardine and mackerel fillet
    • Shrimp
  • Vet-formulated—Untamed food was designed with the help of veterinary experts, ensuring your cat’s unique biological needs are met
  • Ethically made—As per our Planet Pledge, we make sure all our ingredients are ethically reared and sustainably caught. Untamed food is also distributed in recyclable packaging 
  • Fussy eater approved—No picky eater has resisted our feline delicacies, including those who typically frown at wet food

The effects of our natural feline diet are noticeable after a few servings. The feedback we’ve received from other members of the Untamed bunch states the following health improvements in cats of all breeds:


The Untamed effect

Within a week

Even a few servings of Untamed food can improve your cat’s digestion and lift their spirits

After two months

Our high-protein meals will nourish your Ragdoll’s luscious fur and reduce shedding

Within four months

After four months on the Untamed diet, your Ragdoll should have fewer irritating hairballs and improved gastrointestinal mobility

Long-term benefits

Cats who are part of the Untamed clowder have better weight management, stronger immune response, and overall stable health

A taste of our five-star menu

How do you create the perfect nutritional plan for your Ragdoll? Simple, take our quick-and-easy online quiz and choose the products based on your cat’s food preferences and sensitivities

Our five-star menu offers a wide range of whole meat recipes in both gravy and jelly textures. We also include hypoallergenic meals with a single source of protein—Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly and Chocka Chicken in Jelly! Untamed offers diverse jelly and gravy recipes your gentle giant is bound to enjoy. Some of our culinary headliners include: 


Key ingredients

Chocka Chicken in Jelly

60% chicken breast, 37% chicken broth

Chocka Chicken with Duck in Jelly

57% chicken breast, 37% chicken broth, 5% duck

Chocka Chicken with Ham in Gravy

58% chicken breast, 33% chicken broth, 5% ham

Chocka Chicken in Gravy

58% chicken breast, 33% chicken broth, 5% chicken liver

Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly

60% whole tuna meat, 37% fish broth

Tuck-in Tuna with Salmon in Jelly

55% tuna, 37% fish broth, 5% salmon

Tuck-in Tuna with Shrimp in Jelly

58% tuna, 33% fish broth, 5% shrimp

Try Chocka Chicken in Jelly with Duck!

Image (c) Untamed

Where do I sign up?

You can buy Untamed cat food online without any fuss—sign up for our trial box by following these steps:

  1. Complete the Try Now questionnaire 
  2. Provide details about your pet
  3. Choose the products
  4. Place the order

The first shipment of our feline delicacies will be delivered directly to your doorstep within a day. Once your cat goes through the entire menu, you’ll start receiving scheduled monthly deliveries of Untamed meal boxes.