9 Most Common Ragdoll Health Issues: Symptoms & More

Ragdoll cat owners always ask about Ragdoll health issues, which I will take my time to explain the most common health challenges associated with Ragdolls.

Ragdoll cats are among the best cats for human companions, and they have a great bond and are affectionate towards their owners.

This affectionate breed of cat is faced with few health challenges just like every other cat. This is one of the Ragdoll pros and cons.

Ragdoll cats are one of the world’s biggest domestic cat breeds with males being bigger than females.

They came from a variety of breeds in the United States, including Persian, Siamese, and Birmese.

So let’s look at some Ragdoll health issues. Also, read about how to care for a Ragdoll cat.

Most Common Ragdoll Health Issues

Here are some common health issues associated with Ragdoll:

Ragdoll cats are prone to Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease in Ragdolls is as bad as it is for dogs.

Ragdolls get polycystic kidney disease (PKD) primarily because Ragdolls have such few kidney cells.

But it has been known for years that diabetic Ragdolls can get it, too.

Blood tests indicate polycystic kidney disease in half of the diabetic ragdoll cats with symptoms.

And can be handled by lowering blood sugar.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in Ragdolls is a progressive disease that progresses in three stages, affecting kidneys, in turn affecting the body’s metabolism.

The kidney of a ragdoll cat with PKD fails to rid itself of toxins like ammonia.

As a result, kidney failure occurs within a couple of years, with either no treatment or a decreased kidney function.

The disease is the most common kidney disease in ragdoll cats, accounting for almost 70 percent of all kidney disease cases in ragdoll cats.

Although the term is primarily applied to kidney disease in ragdoll cats, polycystic kidney disease is also referred to as nephropathy or chronic kidney disease in cats.

Although Ragdolls can’t get rid of the PKD, treatments can stop kidney damage from progressing in many Ragdolls.

Recommended post: Cat stomach problem symptoms which should help you track when your cat is sick.

Symptoms of polycystic kidney disease in Ragdoll cats

  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • General malaise
  • Depression
  • lethargy
  • High water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of shiny fur coat

Treatments for the polycystic kidney disease in Ragdoll cats

Although treatments for PKD are not commonly used by veterinarians in the United States.

Some veterinarians use cercliment therapy, kidney disease therapy for companion animals, to treat cats with the disease.

In a ragdoll cat with PKD, renal calcium is produced by the kidney cells.

This calcium produces a chemical in the blood called radioiodine, which is responsible for keeping the blood vessels clean and healthy.

A kidney disease therapy program in a ragdoll cat can include diet change to eliminate protein in the diet that would otherwise cause kidney damage.

If the ragdoll cat is not on a regulated food regimen, a low-protein diet may also be prescribed for renal damage.

Another common treatment for PKD in Ragdoll cats is treated with dexamethasone, which treats kidney damage by stopping the development of polycystic kidneys.

If the cat is also suffering from hypercalcemia, medications for the disease may also be administered.

If the cat’s kidney disease is bad enough to need treatment, kidney transplantation is usually performed.

Ragdoll cats are prone to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Ragdolls is the most common heart disease in domestic cats.

It is characterized by a thickening of the myocardial mass in the left ventricle, which causes a decrease in the volume of the ventricles in the heart.

As a result of this thickening, your cat’s heart can’t pump enough blood to other tissues and organs in the body.

Complications from poor blood circulation are most likely to occur, including thromboembolism (formation of blood clots in different parts of the body that interfere with organic function).

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Ragdoll cats

  • Apathy
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Appetite loss
  • Weightloss
  • Depression and lethargy
  • Flaccidity in the reare limbs
  • Sudden death

Treatment of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Ragdoll cats

The treatment of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is complex and has changed over the last 25 years.

Treatments have involved hypo-chloroplasts, vasodilators, and high-dose steroids, such as Prednisone.

After their diagnosis, cats with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy are usually treated with intravenous prednisolone for 2–3 weeks.

Prednisolone is an anti-inflammatory medication that helps treat hypo-chloroplasts, as well as increasing blood flow to the muscle and heart.

Prednisolone is sometimes used in cats with cardiomyopathy but has a limited effect.

So see your vet for treatment of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in your ragdoll cat.

Ragdolls are prone to hairballs issues

This is the intake of fur produced by a cat while licking itself due to the uncomfortable dead skin or fur at the body of the cat.

Hairball is often seen in ragdolls when their owners fail to groom them, and they decide to lick or groom themselves.

This dead skin or fur keeps accumulating in the stomach of ragdolls because it is not digestible, and then forms a ball.

In simple terms, you can say hairballs occur when your cat grooms themselves because their owners failed to groom them.

Hairballs in ragdoll if not treated or controlled normally are removed through surgery by a professional vet.

These hairballs are clear in ragdolls because they have long fur that needs to be groomed once every week.

Symptoms of Hairballs in Ragdoll

Here are the most common symptoms of hairballs in ragdolls which are as follows;

  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Gagging
  • Vomiting with fluid
  • Wheezing
  • Dry cough
  • General malaise
  • Decreased appetite

Treatment of Hairballs in Ragdoll Cats

Here is the basic treatment you can give to your ragdoll when it’s suffering from hairballs, and you’re sure it’s hairballs.

You can watch this video to better understand how to handle hairballs in your ragdoll.

Ragdoll cats are prone to urinary tract infections

Most Ragdoll urinary infection illnesses are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract like Streptococcus and Lactobacillus.

Here is the list of other urinary tract infection causes which is as follows:

  • Pharyngitis or urinary infections (infections that occur in the throat)
  • Patellitis (inflammation of the patella bone)
  • Salmonellosis (infection with salmonella, which can occur in both the intestinal tract and urinary tract)
  • Pharyngosoma-ischaemia (the term usually refers to chronic infection with salmonella, which can cause a chronic skin condition called hock disease)
  • Irritating bowel inflammation
  • Interstitial neoplasia (these are various forms of bladder cancer, which may come from high levels of bacteria in the urinary tract)
  • Intestinal inflammation caused by vaginosis
  • Arthritis

Symptoms of Urinary tract infections in Ragdoll Cats

Here are some common symptoms of urinary tract infections in Ragdoll cats;

  • Straining to urinate
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pain when urinating
  • Constant desire to urinate
  • Blood in urine
  • Consistent licking of the genital

The basic treatment is done by a veterinarian, so contact your vet.

Ragdoll cats are prone Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Ragdolls is caused by persistent intestinal inflammation.

This is a disease that can affect any cat breed, although it is more frequent in the ragdoll variety.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Ragdolls

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Bloody stools
  3. Lethargy
  4. Vomiting
  5. Weight loss

Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in Ragdolls

Treatment will take a variety of forms. If a co-existing infection is discovered, it can be treated with metronidazole, an antibiotic.

Steroid therapy can be used to lower inflammation levels. Your veterinarian may recommend that you feed your cat a “hypoallergenic” diet.

This will most likely be a rabbit, duck, or venison-based diet.

Digestive health can also be improved by eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet.

Ragdolls are prone to obesity issues

Obesity, as associated with the ragdoll cat, is measured by the amount of adipose tissue as well as the size of the fat deposits.

If your ragdoll cat is overweight, there is a lot of fatty tissue around the belly region.

The ragdoll cat can also have excess adipose tissue on their legs and body and around their head, neck, and sometimes around their face.

Obesity in Ragdoll cats is usually seen by a vet. Your vet can give you a simple way to check if your cat has obesity.

You can ask the vet for an appropriate weighing scale which can tell you approximately if your cat is overweight.

Or you can weigh your ragdoll cat yourself using the weighing scale given to you by your vet.

To read more about signs, causes, and treatment of obesity in ragdoll cats check this article on Obesity in ragdoll cats.

Ragdoll cats are prone to gastrointestinal disorders

Ragdoll cats can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The GI tract is a long and winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way.

Conditions such as gastroenteritis caused by infections (like feline enteritis), poisoning, or an obstruction within the bowel (due to the cat eating string, for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Treatment depends on the exact cause, but prompt intervention usually results in a full recovery. See your vet.

Ragdoll cats are prone feline mucopolysaccharidosis

Vision issues in most Ragdoll cats are genetic which means they can be transferred from the female adult ragdoll to their kittens.

People refer to this health condition is known as feline mucopolysaccharidosis.

Feline mucopolysaccharidosis is simply a group of lysosomal storage disorders in Ragdolls that involve the deficiency of specific enzymes required for the degradation of glycosaminoglycans.

The feline mucopolysaccharidosis is very pronounced in domesticated cats like Ragdolls than wild cats.

However, this health issue is seen in ragdoll kittens within the age of 6 to 8 weeks of age.

The site for the feline mucopolysaccharidosis is within the numerous cells of the body, including liver, skin, muscle, bone marrow, and white blood cells.

Symptoms of feline mucopolysaccharidosis in Ragdoll cat

  • Enlarged liver
  • Stunted growth
  • Skeletal abnormalities
  • Mental retardation 
  • Cloudy discoloration of the corneas
  • Small ears
  • Flattened face

Possible solutions to feline mucopolysaccharidosis in Ragdoll cat

  • Bone-marrow transplants
  • Surgery
  • Enzyme replacement
  • See your vet

Also, read about Ragdoll behavior problems

Ragdoll cats are prone to mouth and gum disease

Dental diseases in Ragdolls are some of the most prevalent illnesses in the animal world and because of the lengthy lifespan, Ragdolls can suffer a lifetime of infection.

When examining ragdoll cats for a dental disease you can often find mild signs of gum disease, signs that are not necessarily the result of an infection.

Sometimes the ragdoll cat will experience pain in the jaw and an ongoing change in the texture of its gums or the development of new lesions in the mouth.

Treatment of mouth and gum disease in ragdoll cats depends on the condition itself, but early diagnosis.

The prevention of complications and treatment of systemic infections can help improve the quality of life for ragdoll cats and their owners alike.

Why Ragdoll Cats Should Have Regular Health Check-Ups

Routine health checks and examinations are vital to maintaining the overall quality of life for ragdoll cats.

Although animals have their own issues and unique challenges, there are universal requirements for disease prevention.

When ragdoll cats undergo routine health checks, there are a few general health criteria that should be met or improved on:

Dental treatments that could help improve quality of life

Most dental problems in ragdoll cats are treated by brushing their teeth.

If you find teeth that are not in good condition you should brush them daily.

If you are unable to brush your ragdoll cat’s teeth yourself or if you have to hold the mouth open for long periods to do so, it is highly recommended that you use a cat dental brush or dental kit that offers the appropriate tools for the job.

If you notice a new structure in the mouth that could potentially be a mouth or gum infection, you should contact a veterinarian for proper treatment.

At the vet clinic, the animal is placed on a scale to determine the health and dosage of treatment that is needed.

After the treatment is complete and the animal returns home, you should monitor the mouth for signs of infection.

In some cases, oral diseases are treated by brushing the teeth daily and by avoiding excess oral exposure.

If a serious dental disease is detected, your ragdoll cat will need antibiotics to prevent the disease from developing into a more serious infection.

Some cats are treated with dental syringes that contain antibiotic drugs.

This type of treatment is especially beneficial for cats that have severe dental conditions or conditions that make brushing difficult.

However, it is not recommended for pets that are not sick or suffering from an infection.

More interesting topics:

Antibiotics and Anti-Fungal Treatments

While all kinds of oral health diseases can have serious effects on the quality of life of your ragdoll cat, there are treatments that can lessen the effects of oral disease.

A range of topical and systemic antibiotics can help to treat mouth or gum disease by fighting bacteria and other bacteria that are a common cause of mouth and gum disease.

Antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum ones, often treat mouth and gum disease by fighting systemic infection.

If a tooth is impacted, for example, the antibiotics will treat the tooth injury and prevent infection.

In severe cases, systemic treatment can be required to treat the disease and prevent complications.

Treating mouth and gum disease in ragdoll cats with antibiotics or antibiotics alone can reduce the chance of developing systemic infections.

For example, if an infected tooth is cleaned and the infection has been treated, it is likely that the animal will not get a secondary infection from this tooth or bacteria.

This is particularly beneficial for Ragdoll cats that have problems with their teeth.