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Birman vs. Ragdoll: Which Breed is Right for You? (With Pictures)

The Ragdoll and Birman look very similar. It can be challenging to tell them apart unless you’ve owned either breed before. However, there are some significant differences between them. While one cat may be perfect for you, the other one might not.

It is essential to research their differences, so you choose the correct breed for your situation.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a Ragdoll and a Birman comes in their physical appearance. There are many size and temperament differences between them, though, so it isn’t a matter of aesthetics only.

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Visual Differences

birman vs ragdoll

At a Glance

  • Average Height: 8-10 inches
  • Average Weight: 10-12 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13-15 years
  • Exercise: Moderate
  • Grooming Needs: Brushing once a week
  • Family-Friendly: Yes
  • Cat-Friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Somewhat
  • Average Height: 9-10 inches
  • Average Weight: 8-10 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Exercise: Moderate
  • Grooming Needs: Brushing once a week
  • Family-Friendly: Yes
  • Cat-Friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Yes

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Birman Overview

birman cat sitting outdoors
Image Credit: Jeannette1980, Pixabay

The Birman is a rarer breed of cat. They are not very genetically diverse, which means that many of them are quite similar and may be prone to some health problems. They are long-haired and color-pointed.

They have a silky coat and often deep blue eyes. They often have different color gloves on each of their feet. The breed name comes from the French word for Burma. This cat was first recognized in France in 1925 and then in the USA in 1967.


These cats are known as loving and affectionate. They are bred mostly to be companions, so they are significantly adjusting to the family lifestyle. They are quite docile and quiet. They do not vocalize often and are very quiet when they do.

Birmans are also known to be pleasant and friendly with almost everyone. They are decently smart as well, though still not necessarily the smartest breed of the cat out there.

They tend to be people-oriented, but they are not too needy like some other breeds. They are not particularly aggressive and tend to be very calm most of the time.


These cats are not genetically diverse, so they are prone to many different health conditions. They are not the healthiest cat in the least. The most severe threat to their health is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a severe heart condition that affects many cats. It is a progressive disease that eventually leads to heart failure and paralysis of the back limbs.

Birman cats also have a high serum concentration of creatinine and symmetric dimethylarginine. This puts them at a higher risk for kidney disease, as your kidneys filter these contaminants out of your bloodstream. They are also at risk of developing feline infectious peritonitis.

birman lying on the bed
Image Credit: casion, Pixabay


Despite this cat’s long hair, they only shed very little and don’t need to be brushed very often. You do need to brush them about once a week, but they don’t require much care besides that. They do not need to be washed very often either, as they do an excellent job keeping themselves clean.

They need quality cat food but no special diet.

You will need to take them to the vet regularly for things like worming. Also, look into getting your cat desexed, which often takes care of many of their health problems. Furthermore, microchipping can be important, as well.



ragdoll lying on the floor

Ragdolls are a more popular breed than the Birman, though they look very similar. They are large and muscular, with medium-length coats that are soft and silky. They were developed in America in the 1960s but have been introduced to much of the world. They are well known for their docile temperament and their tendency to “Ragdoll” when picked up.

Ragdolls are considered “puppy-like kittens” because they tend to perform behaviors often associated with dogs. For this reason, they are often considered very friendly.


Ragdolls have a famous personality. They are known to act like dogs. They tend to follow people around, meow for attention, and like to be handled. They are lap cats and love to cuddle. Ragdolls can even be trained to play fetch and perform tricks like dogs.

These cats are not aggressive towards other pets and tend to be very docile. They are friendly and people-oriented. Many owners describe them as “floppy,” which is likely where they get their name from. They are descended from the Birman breed so that they can act similar to them as well.

Some breeders have started breeding less docility into these cats, as some believe that being completely docile isn’t in the animal’s best interest.

These cats are relatively calm, even around noisy and disorderly people and animals. They are relatively calm and affectionate, making them perfect family pets.


The Ragdoll is relatively inbred. They are prone to urinary issues, including kidney problems. Most Ragdolls seem to die from complications for lower urinary problems, according to one study in Sweden.

Like all cats, they are also prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a severe and deadly heart disease that is progressive. This condition is genetic. Many breeders will perform genetic testing on their cats before breeding them to ensure that they don’t pass on problems to their kittens.

cat lying
Image Credit: absolutimages, Shutterstock


Despite their long, fluffy coat, these cats do not need much grooming. A short brushing session once a week is plenty, and many will not even need this. The cat is usually pretty good at taking care of their own grooming needs, and their coat does not mat easily.

Cats may need help staying clean as they age or when they are sick. However, they should not need much help during other times.

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Which Breed is Right for You?

The main difference between these two cats is the size. Birmans are a few pounds bigger than Ragdolls. When considering which breed to get, this may play a role in your decision-making. However, practically speaking, these cats are so similarly sized that a few pounds likely isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Ragdolls tend to act more “doglike.” They will follow you around. However, both breeds are affectionate and friendly. Either would make a great lap cat for a family.

Featured Image Credit: CNuisin, Shutterstock