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Home > Cats > Why Is My Ragdoll Cat Going Limp? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Why Is My Ragdoll Cat Going Limp? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

ragdoll cat in a park looking off to the side

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Dr. Karyn Kanowski

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Among the ten largest cat breeds, Ragdolls are gentle, loving, and affectionate with soft, plush coats. They also have a funny quirk—the “Ragdoll flop”. When these cats are picked up, they get calm and relaxed , and this is where they get their name.

Find out more about floppy Ragdolls, what to expect when owning this lovable breed,


Ragdolls Were Bred as Living Ragdolls

The Ragdoll cat breed originated in California in the 1960s with a cat breeder named Ann Baker. Ann bred from a friendly, stray, longhaired white female cat she named Josephine, creating a litter with endearing features.

Ann began selecting breeding cats based on the temperament and looks she was aiming for, creating a Ragdoll breeding program. One of the traits is the floppy quality, so most Ragdolls will go limp to some degree.

three fluffy ragdoll kittens
Image By: dezy, Shutterstock

Why Do Ragdolls Flop?

The floppy nature of the Ragdoll is more than just a cute characteristic. When cats do this, it’s a sign that they’re comfortable and secure with the person picking them up. This is not exclusive to the Ragdoll breed, and there are plenty of contented kitties that will also enter “limp mode” in the arms of their trusted human.

One of the traits of the Ragdoll that makes it so desirable is that they have been bred for their friendly temperament, so are more predictably affectionate than other cat breeds. It enjoys the companionship it has with humans, acting more like a “lap cat” than the portrait of aloofness. Generally, many of these cats enjoy being held and carried around.

Not All Ragdolls Are Equally Floppy

Ragdoll cats are often known as “floppy” cats, like a ragdoll. But this quirk isn’t the same in every Ragdoll cat. Some will do it every time you pick them up, while others will only flop when they’re sleeping or lounging around.

Timid Ragdolls are less likely to feel comfortable being limp or held. This could change over time, or you may simply have a non-floppy Ragdoll that expresses affection in different ways. And do not assume that just because you have a sweet, innocent Ragdoll that you won’t have to worry about them getting into mischief; this breed can hunt, run amok and cause trouble with the best of them!

ragdoll cat lying on balcony corner egde
Image By: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

When Floppiness Isn’t Cute

Most of the time, a floppy Ragdoll lying in your arms is a good sign, but not always. Sometimes, a cat going limp could be a sign of fear or illness.

Kittens are carried by their scruff by their mothers for the first few weeks of life. When this happens, they relax and go limp. As adults, this scruffing technique is often used and misused as a form of restraint in cats. There is a misconception that when an adult cat is picked up by its scruff and goes limp, that it is relaxed. However, in this scenario, the cat is likely experiencing behavioral shutdown, and this form of carrying should be avoided. Passive restraint is always the best way to restrain a cat when needed, but on occasion, a scruff hold is necessary for the safety of both cat and handler and has been found to be less stressful than full body restraint and the use of immobilizing skin grips. That said, carrying a cat around by the scruff is something that should only be done by its mother.

Another concerning limp cat is one that is also showing signs of illness, like inappetence or lying in places they normally wouldn’t. Certainly if your Ragdoll has not previously been a floppy cat and suddenly is, you should seek veterinary advice. But if you have a contented, purring floppy cat on your hands (or lap, or chest, or shoulders!), then you’ve got yourself a contented kitty.



Ragdolls earned their name with their floppy nature, especially when being held. But not all Ragdolls flop when they’re held or carried. It’s important to pay attention to your cat’s body language to determine if it’s truly relaxed and enjoying your company or showing signs of illness or behavioral shutdown. However, if you respect your cat’s boundaries, you may eventually earn the pleasure of having a floppy cat in your lap.

Featured Image Credit: Aaron Zimmermann, Shutterstock

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