Ragdoll cats are known for their soft fur and gentle natures. They have famously beautiful coats in a wide range of colors, but you might be surprised to learn that they also come in black! Black Ragdolls have been around for a long time, despite not being allowed to be shown at any major competitions. Why is that? What’s the history of this darkly fluffy feline? Read further to find out!
Black, black smoke
Families with children, elderly, those looking for a laid-back large cat
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The black Ragdoll is a bit of an enigma. The Ragdoll show criteria or breed standard across all cat-fancying clubs are very strict on color and patterning, and black is not included. Yet the black Ragdoll has been present since the breed’s inception, and one of the founders of the Ragdoll cat had a black coat!
One of the first Ragdolls, Blackie, was a black male who sired one of the first litters of the breed. He was bred in Riverside, California, by Ann Baker, the person credited with creating the Ragdoll breed.
However, the way Ann structured her breeding programs and how closely guarded she kept her cats didn’t sit right with Denny and Laura Dayton. That is where the controversy of the black Ragdoll began.
Black Ragdoll Cat Characteristics
The Earliest Records of Black Ragdoll Cats in History
The first Ragdoll cats ever to be bred belonged to Ann Bake. In 1963, Ann had begun breeding longhaired cats with a sweet nature together to produce a litter of kittens that started to show the breed traits of the Ragdoll1, namely the “floppy” and relaxed stance when picked up that is their namesake!
The progenitors of the ragdolls we know today were born from this litter. One of these, Blackie, was an entirely black Ragdoll that went on to sire litters that were given the Ragdoll name. Black Ragdolls have been around since the start, and they still persevere today with private breeders who adore their smoky coats.
However, because of differences in breeding and managing practices between Ann’s International Ragdoll Cat Association club members, a pair soon splintered off to breed on their own. These breeders have been credited with developing the Ragdoll breed as we know them today, which (in all official documentation) does not include the color black2.
From California, sometime in the 1960s, a breeding pair of Ragdolls were shipped across to the UK. People fell in love with them, and eight more Ragdolls soon followed them across the sea. This was the start of the Ragdoll breed in the United Kingdom, and the breed was introduced to other European countries in the 1980s.
How Black Ragdoll Cats Gained Popularity
The black Ragdoll cat’s popularity likely grew in time as more of a controversial choice. Because of how strict Ann Baker’s Ragdoll “franchise” was, there was already significant discourse among breeders.
When the first breeding pairs were shipped to the UK in the early 1980s, they made the cover of Cats magazine. With this, more popularity over the emerging breed was seen, and official registration of the Ragdoll breed with the Cat Fanciers Association occurred in 1993. Ragdolls were then shown at the International show in Tennessee that year.
However, these would not be black Ragdolls. As one of the founders, Denny Dayton, said, “I will not let the minks, sepias, or solid variants be accepted into our blue-eyed and pointed breed!” However, this did not dissuade new discoverers and lovers of the breed, and black Ragdolls are sold whenever they appear in litters around the world.
Formal Recognition of Black Ragdoll Cats
Full black (or “solid”) colored Ragdolls can be registered with several cat-fancying organizations around the world, including The International Cat Association (TICA). However, these cats cannot be shown; solid colors such as black are not allowed in the breed standard. Along with the coat color, all shown Ragdolls must have blue eyes, and many (if not all) black Ragdolls don’t have blue eyes. On the contrary, black Ragdoll cats often have green, amber, or even bi-colored eyes!
The Ragdoll was first recognized formally by:
The National Cat Fanciers Association (NFCA) in 1966
The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1979
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1993
The American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) in 1981
Top 5 Unique Facts About Black Ragdoll Cats
1. Black Ragdolls Are One of the Largest Breeds
In the world of cats, the Ragdoll is one of the largest. They weigh over 15 pounds, and some clubs (like the CFA) even allow male Ragdolls up to 20 lbs. That’s heavier than some Maine Coons!
2. They Don’t Reach Full Maturity Until 4 Years Old
Because of their size and slow maturity, black Ragdolls won’t reach full maturity until they’re 4 years old. They need time to grow in all the extra fluff they have around their necks (called a ruff) and legs (called pantaloons), and they even behave like kittens until they turn 3.
3. They Don’t Live Very Long
As sad as it is, black Ragdolls don’t live as long as other breeds of cats. According to a study conducted in Sweden, most (63%) of Ragdolls won’t reach their 10th birthday. However, plenty of Ragdoll cats have lived a lot longer!
4. They Are Known As Being “Dog-Like”
Part of the black Ragdoll’s unique charm (other than their tendency to go limp when carried) is their dog-like mannerisms. Ragdolls often follow their owners around from room to room, happily play and sleep in bed with them, and can be taught how to play fetch.
5. A Black Ragdoll Was One of the First of Its Kind
As previously mentioned, Blackie, the black Ragdoll, was one of the first ever bred. He sired a line that continued to create black Ragdolls to this day and was around for the breed’s first proper introductions to cat-fancying organizations back in 1963. Some clubs are trying to bring solid colors (such as black) back into the breed, as they love their uniqueness and charm.
Does a Black Ragdoll Cat Make a Good Pet?
Black Ragdolls make great pets for those who want an easy-going, loving, devoted, and sometimes clingy companion. Despite their thick coats, these cats are relatively low maintenance and calm. If well-socialized, the black Ragdoll can be left at home while owners go out to work. However, they’ll still need plenty of entertainment while you’re away, even though they’re often lazy! They also get along well with other pets, provided they are allowed their space.
The black Ragdoll doesn’t have many health problems, but hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should be one to watch out for. Lastly, you won’t find a more gentle playmate for children; black Ragdolls are known to be placid and patient. Just remember to supervise children with cats at all times, and wait until very young children can respectfully handle them before letting them play!
Black Ragdolls are a rarity in the Ragdoll world. They were there when the breed found its footing in California, but the standard now calls for specific colors and patterns only, which doesn’t include black cats. Black Ragdolls have all the charm and traits their light-furred siblings have, including the signature “floppiness” when picked up. All in all, the resurgence of black Ragdolls into the mainstream is on the horizon, with many breeders seeing the possibilities in the delightfully dark cats.
Featured Image Credit: Ivan Yohan, Shutterstock