Sweet temperaments and loving natures don't make ragdoll cats immune to health conditions that can affect cats of certain breeds. One example is the hairballs that can plague long-haired cats like ragdolls. Ragdoll cats are fairly healthy as a breed, but a few problems they can experience exist.
Long Coat Quandry
The long, soft coats that ragdolls sport are lovely, but they can cause a problem or two considered to be the biggest health issues this breed faces. When not regularly brushed, the ragdoll's long hair can become matted, trapping dirt and oils near the cat's skin, potentially causing irritation. Meanwhile, if you're not brushing your ragdoll regularly -- every other day if not daily -- he can develop hairballs from swallowing loose hair that brushing would otherwise whisk away.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the complicated way of saying "heart problems." Ragdoll cats tend to be among the breeds prone to developing this particular type of heart problem, in which the left ventricle wall in the cat's heart grows thicker as he grows older. It can come on at any time and brings with it symptoms like decreased appetite, panting or difficulty breathing, fainting, gagging, depression and lethargy. Medications can treat this heart disease, prolonging a cat's life, but no cure exists.
Vision and Joint Issues
Some ragdoll cats carry a gene that can cause an enzyme deficiency in their bodies, affecting eyesight and mobility. This condition is known as feline mucopolysaccharidosis. Enzyme replacement is an option, but often treatment includes bone-marrow transplants, too. If your ragdoll seems to be having problems with his vision or has trouble walking and moving about, get him to the vet as soon as possible.
Do Your Research, Talk to Your Vet
Other than hairballs, which can affect any cat whether it has long hair or short hair, issues that can affect a ragdoll cat's health are genetic. A test can and should be performed on ragdoll cats, even those that seem in perfect health, before they are allowed to breed so risk is reduced of passing on serious health conditions. If you have a ragdoll kitty and aren't familiar with his heritage, talk to your vet about the possibility of the diseases and. Your vet can test your ragdoll to see whether or not he has any of the conditions that can affect his breed and whether he carries the genes that are to blame.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.