Long-haired cat enthusiasts find much to love about both Persian and Ragdoll cats. Even though both breeds have laid-back personalities and beautiful coats, they do have differences in physical appearance, grooming needs and history.
History of the Breeds
Of the two, Persian cats date back the farthest. Ancestors of the modern version entered Europe with caravans full of trade goods from Iran, which was known as Persia at the time, in the 16th century. When the Cat Fanciers Association, the first in the world to register cat breeds, started tracking breeds in 1871, Persian cats were in its records. Ragdolls, however, became a breed in the early 1970s. Although various stories exist about the breed's origins, all of them begin with a feral cat named Josephine who produced a litter of kittens that had appealing personalities and physical appearances. A woman in the neighborhood began selectively breeding Josephine to produce more litters with the same characteristics and, eventually, the breed was produced.
Persian and Ragdoll cats are usually large. Males of both breeds weigh over 12 pounds with Ragdoll males reaching up to 20. Female Ragdolls weigh between 10 and 15 pounds while female Persians usually weigh between eight and 12 pounds. Both breeds have long, silky coats that require extensive grooming, and both come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Ragdolls, for example, can come in four different patterns with six color variations possible for each pattern. Patterns include bi-color and mitted; Ragdoll colors include cream and seal (ref 6, para 3). According to Petfinder.com, more than 80 color variations of Persians are recognized by the breed standard, including tortoiseshell bi-color and blue-cream (ref 7, para 5.; ref 4, chart) Ragdolls do shed less than Persians because they do not have an undercoat that goes away during seasonal changes (ref 6, para. 2; ref. 4, chart).
The most pronounced physical appearance difference between the breeds is their face. Persians have a round, large head with a short to flat to muzzle. Although the breed always had shorter muzzles, selective breeding over the last few decades has flattened the Persian’s face more dramatically (ref1, para 1). Ragdolls have longer muzzles and more triangular-shaped ears than do Persians. While Persians can have blue eyes, the breed’s eye color can include copper, green, and hazel. Ragdolls have blue eyes (ref 4, chart; ref 5, chart).
Both breeds share behavioral characteristics. Persians and Ragdolls are more laid back than other cat breeds. Both breeds enjoy receiving affection and playing (ref 2, para 1; ref 7, para 1). Families with dogs and children may want to choose Ragdoll cats, however, because Persian cats can be choosey when it comes to the humans and animals with which they get along (ref 2, para 1; link = ref8, chart). Persians are not shy though about letting their humans know when they want more attention (ref 7, para 2). Ragdolls, on the other hand, are almost dog-like in their behavior. Some Ragdolls will even greet their owners at the door and usually want to sleep in the same bedroom (link = ref 6, para 2). Either breed disproves the stereotype of cats as standoffish pets, although Persians may take longer to warm up to someone (link = ref 7, para 2).
Neither breed of cat is overly energetic either. Persians are usually relaxed and happy to curl up on a human lap for petting while Ragdolls generally dislike jumping so they are less likely to end up on countertops or other areas where they can get into trouble (ref 7, para 1; ref 6, para 2).