The Ragamuffin is a big kitty. Big eyes, big body, big heart. They’re a perfect choice for a family house cat, because they adore the company of people, get along well with other pets, and seem to have an endless amount of patience for the antics of children.
One of the newer cats in the registry of the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), the ragamuffin is the lap cat for people who would love to find a way to combine a house cat with a weighted blanket.
Everything about the ragamuffin gives off a feeling of substance. With a squarish, muscled body and medium-long to long hair that tends to be voluminous, the ragamuffin is a soft, luxurious, expansive fellow.
The breed is extremely slow to mature, not reaching full size until age 4 or 5. Once they get there, female ragamuffins weigh about 12 pounds while male cats weigh 20 pounds, the CFA says. Their heads are a modified wedge, featuring smallish, pointed ears and very large, round eyes that come in either blue or green shades.
The fur is rabbit-soft and very light, giving them a decadent, blown-out look and feel. Hair tends to be bushier around the neck, giving the impression of a collar or mane, as well as on the tail.
Coat colors and patterns are extremely varied, including piebald, tortoiseshell, tabby, solid, bi- and tri- colors. Ragamuffin kittens are born white, with their color coming in over a period of months.
You just are not going to find a more easygoing cat than the ragamuffin. A perfect family cat, these affable fellows love to sit in a lap, sleep nearby on the couch, and just be in the presence of their human companions. They get along well with other cats, especially other ragamuffins, and cat-friendly dogs aren’t that tough of a sell either.
But where the breed truly excels is in their attitudes towards children. Despite being fairly calm cats, they do have the energy and playfulness to chase a ball or laser pointer around, and they are so easy going they tolerate being picked up and carried, attending tea parties, and being pushed in strollers, the CFA says. (Also from the association: They have a breed tendency to go limp in a person’s arms while being carried; the origin of the “rag” portion of their names.)
“So many of these newer cat breeds have been created with an eye towards specific, desirable behaviors,” says Carol Margolis, DVM, DACT, of the Gold Coast Center for Veterinary Care on Long Island, N.Y.
They are also excellent companions for seniors or people with mobility problems, because they are such undemanding cats. They are happy to get their exercise through playing on their own and are otherwise perfectly content being lapcats.
If you’re wondering, “Can ragamuffins cats can go outside?” the answer is no. Because of their easy-going, trusting natures, the ragamuffin should be an exclusively indoor cat, the CFA says. There’s far too much happening outside for them to contend with and their affable, docile nature makes them susceptible to predators and passing cars.
Similarly, because they are such happy lap cats, they aren’t a breed that does well in isolation. So if you’re going to be out of the house for extended periods of time, consider a second pet to keep them company and limit any stress behaviors.
The ragamuffin’s coat is long and thick, and they are fairly regular shedders, so there’s going to be a healthy amount of combing in your future. However, their fur seems to be remarkably resistant to matting and tangling, so the brushing should be a fairly quick, effort-free affair. Hitting them with a slicker brush twice a week should be enough for most cats.
Keeping an eye on their ears, eyes, and teeth are important factors as well, as that long hair can create gunk issues in the corners of eyes or in their ear canals, both of which can lead to infection problems.
The ragamuffin is a pretty hearty breed that can live up to 18 years. Keeping an eye on standard cat issues, like kidney and heart infections, will be important, and watching for arthritis and patellar luxation as they age will be a good idea, as ragamuffin bodies are substantial and can be rough on joints.
Finally, making sure to monitor their diet throughout their lives is a good idea as well. While the breed isn’t particularly prone to obesity, adding even a couple of extra pounds to that beefy frame can cause larger issues down the line. For this reason, food intake should be carefully monitored.
“A large number of family pets nowadays are obese,” Margolis says. “Cats that are raised with dogs tend to keep their body condition appropriate. So, those ones you can free feed more often because even when they get along really well with those dogs, genetically they’re still thinking 'I could be prey someday.'
"If you’re going to free-choice feed, my recommendation is to only leave out their recommended daily caloric amount.”
The ragamuffin breed is an offshoot of the ragdoll and cherubim breeds. Those breeds were created in the 1960s from an un-pedigreed, common origin cat named Josephine, who was most likely some mix of Angora, Burmese, or Persian stock.
A breeder by the name of Ann Baker decided she wanted the cats to conform to her own, highly specific standards. She trademarked the ragdoll and cherubim names and, eschewing all the traditional breeding associations, established her own registry, the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) in 1971, according to the Ragamuffin Cat Fanciers. Cats registered to the IRCA are required to conform to a highly specific breed standard and are forbidden to be registered with any other breeding association.
In 1992, a group of breeders left the IRCA, according to the Ragamuffin Cat Fanciers' history. These breeders were unable to continue calling their cats ragdolls or cherubim because of Baker’s trademarks so they finally settled on the name ragamuffin. The breed was recognized by the CFA in 2003 and given champion status in 2011.
In terms of a ragamuffin cat versus ragdoll, ragamuffins are most noticeably different from ragdolls thanks to their coat. The latter are color pointed, while the former can appear in every color and pattern combination. However, color-pointed ragamuffins, while able to be registered with the CFA, are forbidden from shows due to their similarity to the ragdoll.