If you’re a cat-lover, you’ve almost certainly heard of, or seen, Ragdoll or Siberian cats. These big, long-haired beauties are popular pets, not just for their looks, but also for their winning personalities.
Ragdolls and Siberians have a lot in common. In fact, a lot of people might have a tough time telling them apart! They’re both big, fluffy and friendly. So what’s the difference? Let’s take a look.
This American breed is relatively new. Ragdolls were developed by cat breeder Anne Baker in California in the 1960s. She bred a longhaired Angora or Persian-like crossbreed female with a number of Birman or Burmese-like males and selectively bred the kittens for the traits she preferred.
Probably the thing Ragdolls are most renowned for is that they’re, well, like ragdolls. What I mean is that they are so laid-back they go totally limp and floppy when you pick them up (like a ragdoll!). These guys are so relaxed it’s contagious.
If you come home from a long, stressful day at work and just need a buddy to chill with, this is your guy! They are super affectionate, always friendly, docile, placid, and did I mention relax?
They make great family pets, as they tend to get on with just about everybody! Other pets, children, nosy neighbours, you name it. They’re so sociable, in fact, that they don’t like spending too much time alone. They do best in a house with other pets, or an owner who’s around to give them LOTS of attention.
Or even just someone they can follow around all day, which is one of their favorite pastimes. It’s this interesting trait that has caused some people to nickname them “dog-cats” (although as any parent will tell you, “toddler-cats” would also work).
Yes, for all their wonderful qualities, gone are the days when you can pee in privacy, or have anything resembling “me-time”. If you own a Ragdoll, all “me-time” is now “US-time”, all the time. But it’s hard to complain about this when your self-appointed NEW BEST FRIEND is a ridiculous 10kg ball of cuddles.
Yes, I did say 10kgs….Which is great, because now you don’t need to renew your gym membership! OK, so in reality, not all Ragdolls get that big (the smallest are only a teeny-tiny 3.5kgs!) But they are one of the largest breeds of cat on the planet nonetheless.
You might think this means they eat a lot: not necessarily! Because of their laid-back nature, Ragdolls are not actually very active (less athlete, more couch-potato), so you do have to be careful not to over-feed them. You also have to watch what you feed them, as their stomachs can be a little sensitive (no sudden diet changes!).
But their energy-saving attitude to life does not mean Ragdolls don’t like to play. When they’re in the mood, they love playing games with their family and can be very entertaining! They also love learning, as they are particularly intelligent. These “dog-cats” can learn to fetch, sit, and rollover just like an actual dog! Though obviously, they don’t look much like a dog while doing it.
Ragdolls Appearance and Coat
Besides being very big, Ragdolls have a couple of other trademark characteristics, like their muscular bodies and beautiful, big, blue eyes. They also have long, silky, soft fur, with no undercoat. This means it is not only very light, but also won’t trigger allergies in people who are allergic to cat undercoat.
Ragdoll cats come in a variety of colours (although all babies are white for the first few weeks). Traditionally only blue-eyed cats with colourpoint coats (pale-coloured bodies with darker faces, ears, feet, and tails) were recognised as true Ragdolls. These days though, other colour variations are accepted as well.
The Siberian cat is kind of like the Ragdoll’s athletic, outdoorsy, Russian cousin. These cats are, in fact, naturally occurring, originating in the wilds of Siberia. It is believed that the first Siberian cats were created when domestic cats interbred with Siberian wildcats, hundreds or even thousands of years ago. It’s also said that they could be the ancestor to all domestic long-haired breeds.
Siberian Appearance and coat
Modern Siberian cats have kept their ancestors’ triple-layered, waterproof, cold-proof coats, which can be a wide range of different colours, from deep black, through tortoiseshell and tabby to pure white. They are very agile and efficient hunters, because of their big, strong, powerful build. Their harsh, Siberian origins also make them super hardy.
They are also hypoallergenic. Yep. These cats are known to have much less of the allergy-causing protein (Fel d 1) in their saliva than other breeds, triggering fewer allergies.
Because these guys are so hardy, they have pretty robust stomachs and rarely fall ill. You do have to be careful not to over-feed them though, as they are definite food-enthusiasts! In fact, if you live in an area with a lot of birds or mice, you may find they decide to catch the odd snack once in a while.
I know what you may be thinking: “Sounds like they would do just fine in the wild without us!”
Well, you’re right. There are many Siberians living happily out in the wilderness right now. But for all they may be big and tough and capable, they are also very affectionate. In fact, they are one of the very few cats known to live (and cuddle) communally in the wild!
And guess what else….They. Like. WATER. They might just have to take the “dog-cat” title off the Ragdolls! Though these guys might not follow you around the house like a puppy (or Ragdoll), the Siberian will be at your side for just about any adventure.
Do you want to go hiking? He’s there. Do you want to go rock climbing? He’ll race you to the top. Do you want to take a swim? He’s already in his swimming trunks.
Domestic Siberians make fantastic family pets and tend to get along with just about everybody. They are known to be great with kids, very cuddly and super playful. In fact, “dog-cat” may not be a bad nickname for these guys either, as they LOVE playing fetch!
Siberians are very smart and food-driven. They are also active and curious, all of which makes them easy to train.
So which breed is best for you?
Essentially, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between these two fantastic breeds. They both make incredibly loving, easy-going, sociable companions for the whole family. But there are a couple of differences worth considering if you’re thinking about adopting one of these magnificent animals (or are just really into cats).
- Lifestyle. Ragdolls are lower maintenance energetically, but they are a little more dependent than Siberians. If you’re the type of person who is home a lot and always down to cuddle, the Ragdoll would make a great companion. If, on the other hand, you want a cat who’s a little more active and can manage a little (just a little, though) time alone, then the Siberian is the way to go.
- Allergies. Both cats have been called “hypoallergenic”, Siberians because of their saliva, and Ragdolls because of their coats. If allergies are a concern to you, this little fact might make all the difference!
- Size. While there’s not much in it, Ragdolls do get a little bigger than Siberians, weighing up to 10kgs versus the Siberian’s maximum of 7.5kgs. That said, female Ragdolls are much smaller than the males, barely making it up to 7kgs.
- Indoor vs outdoor. While Siberians are the Chuck Norris of the cat kingdom and can handle just about anything, their American cousins are a little more delicate. Being so docile, Ragdolls may not do so well in a territorial fight, so it might not be wise to let them out without supervision.
They are also more susceptible to harsh weather conditions, and probably can’t be relied on to catch their own dinner, so if you do let them out, make sure they can get back quickly!
- Health. While all good breeders should always guarantee their animals are healthy, it’s good to be aware that any purebred animal may be susceptible to certain health issues. Siberians are naturally occurring, and haven’t had as much selective breeding as Ragdolls (at least until recent years), so some argue they are healthier. Either way, if you’re thinking about adopting a purebred, make sure to do your research and go with a breeder who puts their cats before their wallet.
|Temperament||Super affectionate Playful Relaxed||Super affectionate Playful Active|
|Sociability||Super friendly Great with kids Great with other pets||Super friendly Great with kids Great with other pets|
|Trainability||Intelligent Food driven Responsive to affection Less active||Intelligent Food driven Responsive to affection More active|
|Health and Care||Grooming minimum twice per week Slight risk of heart or kidney problems Delicate stomach||Grooming minimum twice per week Slight risk of heart or kidney problems Usually very hardy|
|Hypoallergenic||Good for cat fur allergies||Good for cat saliva allergies|
|Indoor vs Outdoor||May need supervision outside||Enjoys plenty of outdoor time|
|Size||3.5-10kg (8-20lb)||3.5-7.5kg (8-17lb)|
While it’s true that both breeds have a tendency towards certain traits, it’s important to remember that every cat is an individual, with their own character and quirks. Also, every relationship is different and unique, just like human relationships.
The way you raise your cat and interact with it, regardless of what breed it is, is going to shape its personality and how it behaves around you. No matter what breed you choose, if you give your cat a stable, loving home, you are going to have a happy, healthy, devoted companion.