Cat lovers who prefer a larger feline, and who appreciate the beauty of a longer coat but don't want to commit to the upkeep involved with Persians, often choose Ragdoll cats. Many cat breeders prize ragdolls for their blue eyes and their colorpoint coats This breed has a gentle and sociable disposition and can live up to 20 years. However, some health problems occur more frequently with ragdolls.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, occurs when the outer muscle of the heart enclosing the left ventricle becomes too thick. As a result of this condition, the muscle cannot contract properly and blood cannot reach the aorta. This condition can affect any age, from kitten to senior cat; most often it is discovered during periods when the cat experiences stress or is particularly active. Signs of cardiomyopathy include decreased appetite, lethargy, panting or other breathing difficulties, fainting and frequent gagging or vomiting. Although there is no cure for this condition, some medications may prolong the life of a cat with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. If purchasing a ragdoll, ask the breeder if they have screened for the genetic mutation that makes some lines of ragdolls more susceptible to HCM.
In cats with this condition, a deficiency of the enzyme arylsulfatase B within the body may lead to vision issues as well as joint problems. If left untreated, the condition may result in mobility problems and even paralysis. Bone marrow transplants and enzyme replacement therapy are the only treatments as of mid-2010. This genetic abnormality seems to have a connection to ragdoll bloodlines from Australia. Again, when purchasing a ragdoll, do your homework. Ask the breeder if his cats have been screened for Feline Mucopolysaccharidosis genes.
All cats get hairballs, and longhair breeds such as the ragdoll have a particular tendency to this problem. More than just a nuisance for owners to clean up, hairballs can cause intestinal blockage, leading to more serious health problems down the line. Brush your cat regularly to eliminate shedding fur.
Some ragdoll cats may tend to throw up frequently, not only from hairballs but from eating too rapidly. This does not necessarily indicate a serious health problem. Take your cat to the veterinarian for regular checkups and keep your vet apprised of any changes in the cat's habits.
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