In 1990 I adopted a lovely two-year-old orange and white longhaired cat. Her name was Ama and when she came home with me I didn’t change her name – nor did I ever find out why she was christened so. Her elderly owner had passed away and she was brought to the Bozeman (MT) Humane Society. Her round face and elegant coat gave her a royal look – she didn’t belong in a small cage. As I neared her little prison, she reached a paw out to me, like a damsel in distress. Ama graced my home for more than 15 years, passing in 2006 at age 18 from kidney failure.
When my friend Cindy Cartier visited a few years after I adopted Ama, she picked up my light-weight kitty, and exclaimed, “She’s a ragdoll! Or part ragdoll anyway.” I replied, “No, she’s a cat.” That’s when I got an education on an amazing breed of cat.
Ragdolls are known for their docile, relaxed, and loving personalities. They go limp in one’s arms, hence the name. That’s what Cindy noticed first about Ama – her placid body and quiet demeanor. This breed of cat is very affectionate and does well with children and other pets. Ragdolls are known to be especially good with dogs – that’s something else about Ama: she and my cocker spaniel, Sam (whom I also adopted from the Bozeman Humane Society) got along incredibly well; they often lay on the couch side by side and never once had a spat. Ragdolls are like dogs in many ways, including the fact they can be taught to fetch and sometimes come when called.
Another trait of Ragdolls that manifested in my adopted girl is the fact they often walk on a leash. When I first brought Ama home, I didn’t want her outside on her own, but I also didn’t want to keep her cooped up during the warm, sunny summer. So, I thought I’d leash-train her. I didn’t have to – she either already had been trained or it was simply instinctual – she walked wonderfully well and never minded the leash. We had fun strolling the neighborhood for many years.
Female ragdolls are small, often five pounds or less – that was Ama, too; even as a spayed female she rarely weighed above six pounds. Altered males, however, grow quite large, up to 20 pounds in some cases.
This is a playful as well as friendly breed. They enjoy the company of their humans, sometimes following them through the house and greeting them at the door. They also enjoy toys and playtime with people, and they are great cuddlers on the couch or in bed.
The breed’s fur is quite soft, almost rabbit-like in texture. Though most have a medium-length coat and some shedding occurs, these cats require minimal grooming – a regular combing generally suffices. Their fur is easy to pick up and a damp hand or cloth will lift most Ragdoll fur from your clothes.
Coat colors are often light, and, similar to Siamese, feature points (face, ears, tail, and feet) of blue, chocolate, seal, lilac, red, and cream. Ama may have been considered having red points, but her entire body mingled orange and white, therefore, she would not have been a purebred Ragdoll. The breed is also noted for its deep blue eyes, again like the Siamese, and again, this is how Ama differed – her eyes, though striking, were a deep amber color. View photos of Ragdolls at http://www.rfci.org/info/color_pat/index.php.
According to Ragdoll Fanciers Club International, the breed developed by Ann Baker during the 1960s in California, a product of Persian and mixed breeds. The Ragdoll was recognized as a purebred in 1965 and has become a fast-growing, beloved cat breed. Learn more about Ragdoll cats at http://www.cfa.org/Breeds/BreedsKthruR/Ragdoll.aspx.
If the Ragdoll is a cat breed that intrigues you, remember the shelters and rescues first – think adoption. Go to www.petfinder.com and type in the breed name and your zip code – you’ll find a list of Ragdoll cats (or another breed you’re considering) and what shelter or rescue has them available for adoption. You’ll discover a treasure in a Ragdoll you adopt, just as I did nearly 25 years ago.
The dawning of a New Year results in resolutions by people to eat healthier and get into better shape. Although many often break those declarations before month-end, perhaps you and your pet can become healthier together, thereby sticking to your resolution and helping your pet stay healthier and happier in the process.
Just as people need nutritious foods to keep them healthy, so do our pets. Just as there are a wide variety of foods we can choose to eat or not, so, too, are there many types and brands of foods from which to choose for our pets. Whether you go to your vet’s office, shop at a grocery or big box store, or buy your pet food from a pet supply store, you are bombarded by the many flavors, brands and special diet foods. With the numerous options, it can seem overwhelming to tackle the question, “What should I feed my pet?”
Pet food recalls make pet lovers recoil and question what companies to trust and what those companies are putting into our pets' food. The best way to combat doubts and questions is to research. Look at the brands in the store and discuss with the store staff. Inquire of trusted friends who are pet owners what they feed their animals, and of course, talk with your vet, especially if your dog or cat has a health issue, such as diabetes. Then, get on the Internet and read about the company from their website as well as learn more about pet food from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (http://www.petfood.aafco.org/). Ask your pet food supplier for samples to try as you learn what food is best for your furry friend.
You can read the labels, however, the order of ingredients on a pet food label is often based on the precooked weight (water and its contributing weight), not on the finished product weight. For example, if chicken is listed as the first ingredient, which we all think is good thing, how much chicken is really in the kibble? Processing chickens to create dry dog and cat food takes the moisture out of the meat and carcass. What is the percentage of chicken actually in the product – 10 percent, 25 percent, 40 percent, more than that? How much corn meal or wheat does the product contain? Some pets are allergic to wheat and corn. Are there synthetic vitamins and minerals in the food? Pets cannot always completely digest synthetic materials. And where is the food processed? Remember the pet food recall involving melamine and China in 2007?
In addition to food selection, here are a few other tips to keeping your pet healthier and happier this year:
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.