Some people may confuse Birman cats for Ragdoll cats or the other way around but that’s no fault of their own. Both these breeds have blue eyes and long-haired, color-pointed coats. Indeed, these two cats are more alike than different in not only their appearance but their personality as well. You can, however, spot certain differences between them.
Ragdolls have a white chin while Birmans do not. Ragdolls are also bigger and more muscular than Birmans. On top of that, their heads are broader, their tails are longer, and their cheekbones are not as high as Birmans. In terms of personality, both cats are relaxed, docile and affectionate, but Ragdolls tend to be more clingy than Birmans.
Find out more about what sets these two cat breeds apart, the difference in keeping either one as a companion, and whether Birmans and Ragdolls can live together harmoniously.
The appearance of Birman cats vs. Ragdoll cats
Birmans and Ragdolls are born white and they start to develop their color spots as they mature, which would take two to four years. Birman cats have pale-colored bodies that transition into darker shades in certain areas, namely the face, ears, legs, and tail.
These darker shades on the coat are generally described as a “pointed pattern” and they come in various colors such as seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, cream and red.
Ragdolls, too, have coats in a pointed pattern that come in the same colors as Birmans. In mitted and bi-color Ragdolls, the points are interspersed with white fur, while in colorpoint Ragdolls, the points are the color of the body, just darker.
The coat on both cat breeds is semi-long and silky, with ruffs around the neck and little or no undercoat. Both cats have fluffy tails that are full of fur.
Other prominently similarities between the two cats are their sweet expression and their bright, beautiful blue eyes.
Now, if Birman cats and Ragdoll cats are so similar, how can you tell them apart?
Firstly, look at the chin. Ragdolls have a white chin while Birmans do not.
Secondly, Ragdolls, one of the largest of domesticated cat breeds, are bigger than Birmans. Adult male Ragdolls weigh an average of 15 to 20 pounds, while adult female Ragdolls weigh an average of 10 to 15 pounds.
This is opposed to 10 to 15 pounds for adult male Birmans and 6 to 10 pounds for adult female Birmans. The bodies of Ragdolls are also more muscular than Birmans.
Thirdly, Birman cats have distinctive white “socks” on all its paws. On the back paws, the socks extend along its legs and end in an inverted V shape or a point – a feature called “laces”.
Ragdolls, on the other hand, may or may not have such socks but when they do as in the case of mitted Ragdolls, it is always much higher on the back to the extent that they are referred to as “boots”.
Less pronounced differences include the broader head and longer tails of Ragdolls, and the higher cheekbones and Roman-shaped noses of Birmans.
The personality of Birman cats vs. Ragdoll cats
The personality of Birman cats and Ragdoll cats are similar in many aspects.
Both cats are highly affectionate and human-loving. One of their favorite activities is following their favorite people around the house from room to room for no particular reason at all. They just like to be near people and are content purring on a lap or lying near someone's feet.
This is especially so for Ragdolls, who simply do not like solitude, as opposed to Birmans which can give their owners some space.
These cats are perfect for families with children as their docile nature means that they rarely protest to being the subject of a dress-up game and the like.
Ragdolls, in particular, are more forgiving when accidentally rough-handled, but both cats seem to thrive on human attention and may sometimes demand it.
Ragdolls and Birmans both hold a gentle demeanor. They are rarely noisy but may vocalize in a soft voice to ask for food or a cuddle. (Read here about how much Birman cat´s meow.)
They are also easy to handle. Ragdoll cats are known to go limp or floppy when carried, which is how this breed received its name.
These two cat breeds may have a calm temperament, but don’t underestimate their playfulness! Both Birmans and Ragdolls can unleash their playful nature in a heartbeat.
Just like dogs, they might even enjoy catching a ball or playing a game of fetch! In between, you can find them lounging on the sofa as both cat breeds are still generally inactive – perhaps Ragdolls slightly more than Birmans.
In terms of intelligence, these two cats are quite equal. With lots of patience, these surprisingly smart furballs can be trained to shake a paw or respond to names.
All that said, it is worth mentioning that all cats are unique. The personality of a cat, when put on paper, is meant to serve as guidelines; in reality, the cat you adopt may or may not follow the standard characteristics as described above.
It really depends on the particular cat’s early experiences as a kitten, its upbringing, and its DNA. All cat owners should be prepared for this when they make a feline addition to their family.
The difference in keeping Birmans vs. Ragdolls
Every cat owner should strive to care for their felines as best as they can. When it comes to keeping a Birman cat or a Ragdoll cat, here's what it would entail.
Indoors or outdoors
Now, should you keep these cats indoors or outdoors? It is highly advised to keep both Birmans and Ragdolls indoors. In the outside world, these cats risk getting hit by cars, fighting with wild animals, catching diseases, accidental poisoning and so on.
Given that Birmans and Ragdolls are beautiful and friendly cats, they are also prone to be stolen by strangers. As extra motivation to keep your cat indoors, know that indoor cats tend to live healthier and longer lives than outdoor cats.
Should you wish to let them out, keep them within the confines of a garden or backyard.
You can also take a walk with your Ragdoll or with your Birman. If you need help with that, read our guide on how to walk a Ragdoll cat!
Food and water
All cats thrive on healthy food. While there are no specific nutritional needs to take note of for a healthy Birman or Ragdoll cat, it is good practice to look out for foods with high protein and low carbohydrates and to avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
The foods should be enhanced with taurine and Vitamin A as cats cannot make sufficient quantities of these by themselves.
As Ragdolls have a tendency to face arthritis in their old ages, it’s good to feed them a diet high in fatty acids and Omega 3s to improve its bones and joints.
We highly recommend reading our Ragdoll Cat Food Guide here.
Birmans, on the other hand, have a tendency to become obese in their old ages so cat owners should be careful not to overfeed. All in all, the nutrients should promote healthy joints, bones, skin, coat and heart functions.
Needless to say, both cats should be provided constant access to fresh drinking water. While you can leave a bowl of water beside the food, you can also set up a drinking fountain as both these cats have a fascination with water and may like to drink running water.
Cat owners can set aside a cozy space for their feline friends to sleep and relax. Cat beds are best placed in quiet locations where your cat already likes to sleep.
If your Ragdoll or Birman love sleeping by the window, consider getting them a window perch.
Yet another similarity between Ragdolls and Birmans is that they both prefer the ground level as opposed to higher elevations. Therefore, any cat trees that you set up for them need not be so high.
They do, however, need to be very stable, especially in the case for the heavy Ragdolls.
Grooming is necessary for both cats but unlike what you may think, both of these breeds need relatively little care.
While they may be furry cats, the lack of undercoat in both Birmans and Ragdolls mean that their coat is unlikely to tangle and mat.
You will still need to brush these cats twice weekly to get rid of excess loose fur. Ramp up the combing during shedding seasons. (Here is how much Birman cats shed.)
To compare these two cats, Birmans are easier to groom than Ragdolls as they are smaller and also have a thinner coat.
When you notice the coat of the Birman or Ragdoll cat getting dirty or greasy, put the cat into a warm shower and lather them up with pet shampoo. Giving your cat a bath will keep its coats clean and cut down on potential tangles.
Other forms of grooming
The claws of cats can overgrow and tear, causing infections. To prevent this, and also to protect your furniture, you should trim your cat’s nails as and when it’s needed. Cleaning the ears and brushing the teeth of your cat will also contribute to good feline health.
All cats need to scratch, so it’s necessary to install a few scratching posts around your house. Scratching is a way for cats to mark their territory and remove the dead outer layer of their claws.
As Ragdolls tend to be bigger in size than Birmans, scratching posts that are larger and sturdier are better suited for them. You can consider those that are mounted to the wall as they are less likely to fall over when a Ragdoll cat leans on it.
We compiled some great scratching posts for Ragdoll cats here. These can also be used for Birman cats!
Both Birmans and Ragdolls have a companionable nature, so cat owners can expect to spend lots of time around these cats. These cats love to be petted and held, especially Ragdolls. However, Birman cats love being held as well – read more on that here.
To your cat happy, you should give them attention and shower them with love regularly. They should be allowed to wander around the house, following people around. As Ragdolls tend to be more attached to their favorite humans, they might need more attention than Birman cats.
To keep your Birman or Ragdoll cat happy, cat owners should play with them every day. Play sessions come in many forms, from hide-and-seek to utilizing toys.
They are various forms of toys to pick from such as cat lasers, toy mice, plush rattle toys and cat puzzles. As mentioned, Birmans and Ragdolls love a game of fetch, so you can try and get them to retrieve their favorite toys again and again.
Both of these cats are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease common in cats in which the heart muscles thicken.
Symptoms to look out for include difficulty breathing and weight changes. Birmans are also prone to kidney disease while Ragdolls are prone to bladder stones.
Since it’s best to leave the diagnosis in the hands of trained veterinarians, cat owners should be alert for symptoms that their cat is sick: vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, limping, swelling, discharge from eyes or nose, and basically any behavioral changes.
You should get a Birman if…
You like medium-sized felines that are affectionate and companionable, yet not too clingy (as Ragdolls are).
You should get a Ragdoll if…
You like big, furry and easy-to-handle felines that are very affectionate, and don’t mind a larger commitment in terms of coat grooming and caring for the emotional needs of Ragdolls.
Not sure about Ragdolls? Here are 20 reasons why they are great pets!
Can Birmans and Ragdolls be kept together?
If you can’t seem to decide whether to adopt or Birman or a Ragdoll, consider getting one of each. Both of these cats love company – not just with humans but with other dogs and cats too.
Due to the social needs of Birmans and Ragdolls, it’s best to get them a feline companion especially if you cannot be around them most of the day.
These cats are not fussy about the breed of the other cat you adopt, so Birmans and Ragdolls can live harmoniously together.
However, you do need to ensure that the transition goes smoothly by letting the cats meet in a controlled environment in a span of days or even weeks. Once successful, you’ll have two very happy fur babies.