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Rodney our Ragdoll cat

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

I've found you e-mails to be informative, but they are not exactly addressing my individual concerns, since we already have our cat, so
I'm glad to have the chance to write to you and hopefully you can answer some of my questions!

My daughter was asked to take care of Rodney, a very special male, 15-month-old, seal, bi-color Ragdoll purebred cat! His owner had to go out of town and was in the process of moving and taking on a new job that would require him to be away from the cat more than was fair to him. My daughter and I cared for him for that week and expressed how
much we liked him and would miss him, even though Rodney wasn't overly friendly to us, mostly just shy. His owner asked if we would be interested in having him, he could see that we took good care of him, etc. After a family meeting and much thought, we decided to adopt him (free of any charge) the previous owner was just looking for a loving home for his special cat) but it was a great opportunity to have a purebred, expensive cat that we would not normally have been able to get at this particular time.

I did a lot of research on the breed and was really interested in it. As you probably know, they are known to be very "people oriented" and love to be around others a lot. We are a family of four, my husband and myself and our two children who are 13 and 18.

So...Rodney's previous owner brought him to us in the next two days (along with all of his things, as he had to go on a business trip to Japan for three weeks, but promised when he'd return to send us his pedigree papers and his health records, etc. I trust he will do that when he returns to the country.

We followed all the steps of letting him in his carrier to come out on his own, it did take several hours, and made his room my daughter's bedroom for his safe haven and for his food, toys, bed, scratching post/seat and litter, etc. He is making progress, but it's been three weeks since we got him. He loves being petted but doesn't hesitate to let you know when he's had enough by turning his head and trying to nip at you a bit. He did some "hissing" in the first week he was with us, if we got to close to him, although he let us pet him a little. Is this normal for this breed?

We are very gentle with him and talk to him quite a bit but are wondering if this is just his way of communicating he's had enough. He does not "meow", he hasn't so far at all. I've read that this breed isn't very vocal, but is this normal?

He doesn't seem to like to be picked up very much. He appears to be very healthy and we give him Wellness food, half dry, half wet diet. Is it necessary to give him extra vitamins?

His previous owner told me to give him a tsp. of Missing Link, dietary supplement, on his wet food daily. We are just anxious for him to crawl up on our laps and love us back like we love him but realize he is just adjusting. How long might it take for him to be fully comfortable with us all? I guess, what I'm asking you is...what can we expect of him during this adjustment period that is typical of his breed?

I understand all cats have different personalities and some might take longer to adjust to a new home, than others. He came from a one person home to a four-person home. He is definitely less shy of us all than he was and is eating normally and has been perfect with his litter box since day one. We are using World's Best Litter, which is flushable, all of the same brands of food and litter that he was using before. Please suggest anything that will help Rodney's transition along, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you for your time, for reading my e-mail and for answering my questions.

Sincerely,

Kay Chervanik


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. Gosh, you have lots of questions. I appreciate that you are trying to do the best you can for your new cat. That is great. I admire pet owners that ask questions and really want to make their pets happy. Now, to try to answer your questions. I'll try to make bullet points of them below:

  • First – I love Ragdolls. They are great cats and it sounds like Rodney is very special. It also sounds like you are trying to do all the right things. You have lots of questions about their personalities and history - I'd recommend buying a book or going to your local bookstore or library and learning more about the breed.

  • As far as how you introduced Rodney to his environment, it sounds like you did a nice job. I think allowing a cat to come out of the carrier when he is comfortable and allowing for one room to be his safe haven is ideal when in a new environment. Also making sure he has his own food, toys, bed, scratching post, litter, etc are all excellent ways of making him feel more comfortable.

  • You asked about his behavior as far as being petted then hissing or trying to bite. This is a normal behavior – for more information –read the article on "Petting aggression"

  • Some Ragdolls are more vocal than others. Many cats will become more vocal as they get accustomed and comfortable with their environments (which can be weeks for some cats and months or years for other cats).

  • You also wrote, "He doesn't seem to like to be picked up very much." – That is pretty normal for many cats.

  • "He appears to be very healthy and we give him Wellness food, half dry, half wet diet. Is it necessary to give him extra vitamins?" I'm not sure which food you mean. I'd recommend feeding a high quality premium food. If you are feeding that – then you don't need to give him extra vitamins. For more information on feeding cats and what they need, read "Nutrition in Cats". If you decide to change foods, I'd do it gradually and after he has adjusted to his environment.

  • "How long might it take for him to be fully comfortable with us all? I guess, what I'm asking you is...what can we expect of him during this adjustment period that is typical of his breed?" I think there is no certain adjustment period for any cat. It really varies with the individual personality of the cat. No two cats are the same, not even littermates. An analogy might be on if you have two kids and you move them across the country to a new community, new home and new school...one kids might jump in – love it and be fine with everything. The other kid may take a long time to adjust.

    In the meantime, make sure Rodney is eating well, drinking well and has a clean litter box that he is using well.

    Best of luck!

    Dr. Debra




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