After combing a myriad of ragdoll websites, you’ve seen pictures of perfectly posed cats, and proud adoptive ragdoll moms and dads. You may have read many terms & conditions, and completed many inquiry forms. You’ve tried to juggle all of the ragdoll acronyms and attributes. You’ve finally found a breeder who will answer your email or phone call. You have placed a deposit on a pairing of the sire and dam of your choice, but all of it still seems surreal. This aquisition business is truly an internet affair. Rarely do buyers connect personally with their breeder. And as a result there is still a bit of mystery.
- What is it like over there at Masterpiece?
- What do the ragdoll cats and kittens do besides sit around and look pretty?
- How are they cared for?
- How does Elizabeth and her family feel about being out-numbered by felines?
To be honest, a cattery is both a challenge and a reward, and mostly the latter. If I do my job right, I rarely have problems. I scoop litter frequently. I feed quality food consistently. I place restrictions on who can be where in our home, and when. I’m always monitoring who might go in heat. I am sensitive to the sires’ needs. They are a territorial creature. And expectant dams have unique needs too. They are free to roam the house during the day up until they are nearing their due date; then, they are taken to the room designed for labor and delivery. Litters of littles require unique spaces when they are just born. They need a safe place for wobbling around on their bambi legs at 5 weeks, and an adventure course when they are 9 weeks. It’s all a matter of insightful rotation.
Typically, each morning, I open the cattery door to freshly rested ragdolls. I can tell because they show me a toothy yawn and long stretches. As I enter in, they parade out into our living areas. I go in to clean up. Surveying the mess they’ve made from the night before, I gather all the necessary equipment and supplies from the locked cabinets. Armed with gloves, paper towels, disinfectant, a broom and vacuum, and sometimes a mop bucket, I begin the half-hour job. If the room is filled with toddler kittens, I isolate them by popping open a can of wet premium yum. I am proud to say I have help with this daily chore: my youngest son, Jack, has been a champ when it comes to sweeping and vacuuming. He’s also a good watchdog for anything unusual. He is usually the first one to sheepishly notify me of a dam’s heat cycle! Jack is sensitive to their needs, always questioning why they behave as they do. He observes their social culture as well as their physical one.
Litter, et al
(Warning: this might be TMI)
As you can imagine, potty boxes are a big part of my life. Yup. It’s true. My college degree sits on a shelf. I went from child rearing/homeschooling to the business of scooping, studying, and discarding be-granule’d poop and clumped urine.
We use 2-3 litter boxes in each of the cattery rooms. But again, with regular attendance, this just isn’t a problem. We once had the Litter Robot, but could not rely on it exclusively. It malfunctioned when two or more ragdolls used it simultaneously. When this happened in the middle of the night, the Masterpieces were in a tight spot! They did their best; they would find a few errant grains of litter on the floor and use that as the repository for their waste. This was clearly not sustainable. The Litter Robot was an expensive lesson.
We use Dr. Elsy’s Precious Cat litter because it clumps well. When it comes to kitty business of this sort, cleanliness is next to godliness. The goal is to keep each clump intact. When a clump breaks down, the result is a colony of tiny clumps which is a way forward for urinary tract infections and other bacterial infections. Even Masterpieces fail to cover up their waste sometimes. For that reason, we sift every litter box three times daily. We do not use scoopers; we use our gloved hand and our watchful eye. This method allows us to quickly discern an unusual stool–a possible indicator of health distress. Poo duty lacks glamour, but it certainly ensures a healthy Ragdoll Cat!
Note: Some will argue that clumping litter is dusty and causes upper respiratory problems. In general, Masterpiece Ragdolls has not experienced this. My vet and I agree that most URIs are likely due to the contraction of the virus we try to guard against when we administer the FVRCP series. It is possible that the dust can exacerbate a stuffy nose! The only exception I take to Dr. Elsy’s is in the case of litter-training kittens. When the kittens begin litter training, we use pine or paper pellets. The reason for this is that tiny grains can clog tiny nostrils.
Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. — W. H. Auden
The only argument I would make with Mr. Auden is that my love for the ragdoll is displayed by my gift of clean drinking water. They survive and thrive because they suffer not the ills of stagnant water. (If I wouldn’t drink it, why should they?)
We use water fountains made of stainless steel which are comprised of few parts. The less surface area, the fewer the bacteria. Weekly, we replace the water fountain filters. These filters are not pricey and even if they were, the ragdoll is worth it. I’ve heard stories about how multi-cat environments can be breeding grounds for infection. Elementary science class teaches that water, time and temperature have a profound impact on the growth of microbes. Let us be vigilant on this front!
Masterpiece waste and water supply are are daily foundations. What is mostly a weekly chore is the cattery room disinfecting process. Floors bleached, dried food bowls washed, cat condos wiped and disinfected with My Pet Peed enzymatic spray. Window sills sometimes reveal fecal matter (after all, they do enjoy basking in the sun after a trip to the loo.
If you’re still reading, you’re really into this. I applaud you for your curious spirit!
The business side is none-too-slim.
There are records to file away, contracts to execute, spreadsheets to be updated, pedigrees to be ordered, social media sites to endure, and websites to repair. At the time of this article’s composition, we are in the midst of a huge overhaul to the site. (It involves understanding where my FTP is, which domain hosting option provides optimal security, and many other techy aspects which are incredibly boring.)
There are auto-shipments to review, accounts to be reconciled, emails to be answered, veterinarian appointments to schedule and make. There are videos to compile, pictures to collage, and a Youtube account to feed with these little fun projects! There are clients who are antsy for a new photo!
All of these chores and I have failed to mention the very most important part of my day: you! There are lovely clients to talk to, to meet with, both in person and virtually. We zoom, we facetime. Your enthusiasm is what fuels our masterful work. You love what we do and that is extraordinarily meaningful. If you are a friend of mine, you know that I am a servant first, a cat lady and writer second. I to hear what matters to you so that I can be sure that you will be nothing short of thrilled to take home your ragdoll kitten.