Health problems in Ragdoll Cats

health problems in Ragdoll cats - 3 white kitten

Gentle and sociable, with a lush coat and bright eyes.

It’s easy to see why Ragdoll cats steal the hearts of anyone they meet.

These big, cuddly felines are sweet-natured and make great family pets.

However, just like any other breed, Raggies are prone to certain diseases that can affect their overall health and happiness – as well as your bank account!

Learn more about the most common health problems in Ragdoll cats, so you can give your kitty the best quality of life.

Although this breed generally fares well, we’ll explore five conditions below.

But first, let’s talk about one possible factor that MAY contribute to some of these illnesses.

The mysterious history of Ragdoll cats

In the 1960’s, a Californian breeder named Ann Baker developed Ragdolls from a domestic longhaired white female (Josephine) and other free-roaming cats.

Rumour has it that matriarch Josephine was hit by a car, and this accident left her immune to pain. Some stories claim that Josephine passed her floppy demeanour down to descendants, as a result of the accident.

This is meant to explain why Ragdolls tend to go limp when held in our arms!

Whether this actually happened or not; it’s true that Raggies have a docile, floppy nature. Many people find this characteristic appealing, but it has associated dangers – such as leaving Ragdolls defenceless against vicious animals they may encounter.

There’s also concerns about inbreeding, as breeders frequently mate close relatives to promote preferred genetic traits. In fact, 45 per cent of the Ragdoll’s genes are said to come from one male cat.

His name was Daddy Warbucks.

Although inbreeding leads to desired physical characteristics, it can also take a toll on kitty’s health and may even reduce life expectancy.

The average lifespan of a Ragdoll cat is between 15 and 25 years. However, according to this Swedish study, Ragdolls have some of the lowest survival rates out of all common breeds analysed.

health problems in Ragdoll cats - white cat with blue eyes

5 common health problems with Ragdoll cats


Ragdoll cats are very relaxed and prefer not to have too much excitement in their day. This sedentary lifestyle means they tend to stack on the kilos fairly easily and are more likely to develop obesity.

Although Raggie may look cute with some extra padding, this is detrimental to their health. Additional weight isn’t good for the heart, thyroid, kidneys and other vital organs.

Aim to keep your cat’s weight stable after they turn one, as this is when they become fully mature. Gentle exercise (around 20 minutes a day) will go a long way towards maintaining fitness. Ragdolls love playing fetch with a ball, so use this as an opportunity to bond.

Your vet will tell you what Raggie’s ideal weight should be, and how much food you should be offering.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

This condition is fairly widespread among the Ragdoll population. Females are particularly susceptible, because the urethra is located close to the bladder, so it’s easy for bacteria to travel.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Regularly cleaning (licking) the genitals
  • Blood in urine

Mild and moderate cases are usually successfully treated with prescribed antibiotics, but severe UTIs sometimes require hospitalisation. Take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice symptoms, as early intervention is always best.

health problems in Ragdoll cats - two white cats with blue eyes


It’s not pretty to think about, but Raggie’s fur can accumulate in his stomach and cause digestive problems. Ragdolls have particularly long fur so there’s a higher risk of swallowing hairballs when grooming to keep clean.

Most of the time, your cat will naturally purge the offending hairball from his body, but sometimes this doesn’t work out. If your cat seems unwell and frequently gags or vomits, there may be issues with internal hairballs.

Your vet can prescribe malt paste, which helps cats to safely expunge hairballs from their bodies.

It’s also a good idea to regularly brush Raggie’s fur with a brush that’s specifically for longhair breeds, to reduce the amount of hair that’s ingested.

Polycystic kidney disease

This hereditary condition causes cysts to grow inside the kidneys. The kidneys become damaged as the cysts grow bigger and kidney failure may occur.

Symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Reduced appetite
  • Regular urination
  • Higher water consumption.

Sadly there’s no treatment for this disease, but prescribed medications can ease discomfort and pain.

Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

This is the most prevalent heart disease for domestic cats, but Ragdolls are particularly vulnerable (especially older males).

The left ventricle in the heart becomes thicker, which compromises the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Your cat may have this illness if they show signs of fatigue, anorexia, coughing, shallow breathing, loss of appetite, leg paralysis and fainting.

Unfortunately, this hereditary disease is challenging to diagnose. Symptoms often go undetected and occasionally the cat’s death comes as a complete shock.

However, most cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy aren’t fatal. The condition can be successfully managed with medication if diagnosed in time with an echocardiogram.

health problems in Ragdoll cats - gray cat with women

Potiki cat insurance for health problems in Ragdoll cats

Healthy food, gentle exercise and plenty of love will give your precious Ragdoll the best chance of enjoying a full and healthy life.

Having said this, sometimes our pets get sick, despite our finest efforts.

Unfortunately, veterinary bills for vital treatments can cost thousands of dollars, which many families can’t afford!

Imagine the heartache of not being able to help your beloved Raggie to recover.

Thankfully there’s an affordable safety net:

If you have reliable pet insurance, you don’t have to worry about missing out on veterinary care. Your policy would cover most of the costs, as long as it’s not a pre-existing condition.

But what if you never need to lodge a claim? Is that a waste of money?

No, you still get good value:

We send you free Potiki Perks to help you take care of your beloved Kitty’s general wellbeing.

All customers get up to $400 worth of tailored essential pet supplies like tick medication, as well as 24/7 access to an online chat service with experienced vets.

This is on top of reliable Potiki pet cover (via that pays for 80 per cent of your eligible vet bills for unexpected illness and injury.

  1. Get a quick Potiki quote to find out what your premium will cost for one year.
  2. Submit payment if you’re satisfied with that amount (email us on [email protected] with any questions).
  3. Log into your personal portal to select items for your Potiki Perks package, which will be swiftly delivered to you.
  4. Lodge a claim if you need help paying vet bills for unexpected sickness or injury.