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Some Say She Was Crazy...

By Christine Lupo

March 12, 2020

       Your opinion is that Ann Baker was crazy?!  My opinion is that she certainly was crazy—crazy like a FOX! If you seriously thought her to be insane, you are one of the sheep who neglects to see the truth. Research that time period and how misogynistic society was toward women in business. Men were in control not only in the household, but in business, in the court system, and in the cat fancy. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg can attest to that. Women who expressed themselves in an independent, aggressive manner were castigated. Add a bit of eccentricity to the mix, and they were deemed crazy, or hysterical. Baker experienced trauma to the head, and several out of the ordinary things were mentioned on her part. She was not perfect. She was a character, but crazy? That’s going a bit far. 

       The woman was not insane. Perhaps, as she aged, she was plagued by a touch of dementia, but, no, not insanity. Back then, she was savvy as to the importance of proper food over medication for her animals. She sought to improve the health and temperament and to learn the why of things in relation to her breeding stock. How many breeders do that TODAY? She was a pioneer in many ways. Read her autobiography carefully. She followed all of the correct protocol in attempting to protect her creation. She formed her own association, she patented her breed, she formed a franchise to ensure her business of Ragdolls was not bastardized and destroyed by the likes of men such as Curt Gehm and Denny Dayton. What did she get in return for trying to do everything in the correct fashion? She was raped, financially, by her own lawyers, deceived and defrauded by those with whom she had contracts, trusted, and others who were shrewd enough to avoid it. She was in and out of court and spent an exorbitant amount of money to try to protect that which she was so passionate about and to whom she was most dedicated—HER RAGDOLLS. 

       Those who stole from her also called animal control on her, stole and poisoned her cats, and slandered her. How would YOU respond? I know for a fact some breeders, today, have experienced at least one of these things that were initiated by other catty, spiteful and vindictive, breeders. How would you feel as a victim of an insidious onslaught of attacks? I most certainly would become emotionally upset, filled with anxiety, if any one of these things happened to me—call ME crazy! Her writing is not on par with Jane Austen, but her pride is evident, the prejudice, bias, she experienced was a reality. Her autobiography was an attempt to reveal herself as sane, though frustrated and exasperated. It was an attempt to reveal her intentions and attempts to preserve and protect HER breed. How many books are there out there touting Denny Dayton as the father of all Ragdolls? Where is Ann’s voice? Give her the respect she deserves and read her publication from cover to cover with a critical eye and not that of a sheep who has become drunk from the Dayton punch. She put those beloved Ragdolls into your arms. Not Dayton. Not Gehm. Take the time to read HER words and set Baker free of the stereotype of the "hysterical" woman!

        One more question for you, how many of you line breed? How do you go about doing it? Do you know the inbreeding coefficients of your own cats? Food for thought. Please think. Read beyond the surface.


March 12, 2020

Showing Non Traditional Ragdolls

By Elvia Leclair

        “Non Traditional” Ragdolls are defined as solid, minks, and sepias… These purebred registered Ragdolls are permitted to show in The International Cat Association (TICA) under “New Traits” even though they are of the foundation stock and their phenotype, their coloration, is not at all something new. “New Traits” are defined as...These purebred felines are also permitted to show as Household Pets ( HHP). “Household Pets”are delineated in TICA show rules as any spayed or neutered feline that is of any color, any pattern, any size, any breed or breeds, that exhibits a docile temperament; basically, anything is permitted. If a Ragdoll is shown under HHP, no credit is given to them as being a purebred Ragdoll that has been bred for very specific traits that are outlined in the TICA Ragdoll Breed Standard. In order to get the “non-traditionals” accepted for show in championship rings to compete for titles, they must follow a stringent process. TICA rules dictate that ... If you would like to show support for the non traditional Ragdolls, it is best to show them under New Traits in order to advocate for the non-blue eyed variant to be accepted in the championship class.

        This can be confusing for most, as not many are familiar with the history or the genetics of the Ragdoll breed. The question that may come to the layperson’s mind might be, “Have the non traditional Ragdolls been around as long as the traditional Ragdolls?” The answer is a resounding yes! When Ragdolls were registered by their original creator, Ann Baker, in her original registry, “The International Ragdoll Cat Association” ( IRCA) to other registries, such as TICA, CFA, etc., only the Ragdoll variant with blue eyes were exhibited for acceptance in those organizations show halls. These were deemed “Traditional” Ragdolls by Denny and Laura Dayton who purchased, bred, exhibited, and favored soley the blue eyed variant of the Ragdoll. The Daytons commercialized and made this variant popular. 

      As pedigree registrations were switched from one registry to another, information was left out, lost, or recorded incorrectly. This has been one major cause of the confusion as to whether or not “non-traditional” Ragdolls are “true” Ragdolls. Much research has been done by many Ragdoll Breeders that has shown that “non-traditional” Ragdolls have been in existence since Ann Baker’s inception, creation, of the Ragdoll breed. Documentation such as IRCA registrations, Ann Baker’s own ledger books on her breedings, letters, etc., all contribute toward the undeniable evidence that the “nontraditional” ragdolls were part of the foundation and essential to the Ragdoll breed. Without the “non-traditionals,” the Ragdoll breed would not exist, including the “traditional” blue eyed Ragdolls. The “traditional” blue eyed Ragdolls absolutely would not exist without the other variants, as they stem from recessive traits. Recessive traits are needed from both parents in order to create the blue eyed variant. This has become a problem in limiting the gene pool in the “traditional” blue eyed variant, but that is a story for another day.

       This is not the first time that effort has been required to get a certain color of Ragdoll accepted for show. The same protocol was followed in order to get Ann Baker’s original lines of reds, creams, and lynx accepted. Similarly, these same procedures had to be followed for the acceptance of Cinnamon and Fawn Ragdolls, which were not an original color of Ragdoll and not in Ann Baker’s breeding program. These new Ragdoll colors, cinnamon and fawn, have been derived from many breeds of cats. These cinnamon and fawn Ragdolls have been outcrossed to Abyssinians, Selkirk Rex, and even domestic longhairs to create this color, but they are accepted for show as long as they have blue eyes. Why is it that a total outcross is permitted to an entirely different breed is able to be shown, the cinnamon or fawn pointed Ragdoll, but not a “nontraditional” pure Ragdoll? Does this make any sense? 

       Most Ragdolls today have been outcrossed with one breed of cat or another. There are “non-traditional” lines that have not been outcrossed with other breeds and that are not related to the “traditional” lines of Ragdolls that have Persian, Birman, Balinese, etc., in their lines. could be bred into their programs to keep the lines Original. Only TICA allows “non-traditional” Ragdolls to be registered. All other registries do not allow any Ragdolls to be registered if they have any “non-traditional” Ragdolls in their pedigrees for six generations. This is also the same for lines of Ragdolls outcrossed to other breeds of cats. If we had more acceptance for every line of Ragdoll, it would be much healthier for the breed as a whole. If this segregation continues, then it will be the downfall of our wonderful Ragdoll breed. You can only inbreed and outcross so much before the breed changes as a whole, or the health of our beloved Ragdolls is so far gone that there will be nothing we can do to recognize, or save, them. Outcrossing is effective for total inbreeding, but it brings all kinds of unexpected health issues from incorporating other breeds of cats.

Most Traditional Ragdolls have been outcrossed with Persian, Birman, and Balinese. If you look up the health and genetic issues of these other breeds, you will find that this is not helping the Ragdoll breed and can adversely affect the health of these lines. There is also no acceptable outcrosses for the Ragdoll breed as there are for many other breeds. But here again even though there are not any acceptable outcrosses, if said kittens are “traditional” they can be shown for championship status once three generations have passed in TICA. 

        The “non-traditional” Ragdolls, until accepted, even without outcrosses, even if fully traceable to Ann Baker’s original lines, even if the pedigree is exactly the same as the “traditional” lines being shown for championship status, it will never be allowed to be shown unless they are accepted by the Ragdoll Breed Committee to be shown as champions similar to their brethren. There is enough room in the world to accept and love all lines of Ragdolls. How do you just accept pieces of something without accepting all? The breed foundation of “nontraditional” Ragdolls should be accepted for championship eligibility considering their role in the inception of the blue eyed variant. There is no “Chicken or the egg?” question here. The logic is nonsensical. The “non-traditionals” were here first and spawned the blue eyed variant. The reverse should be true… the blue eyed variant should be fighting for championship acceptance--not the other way around.

The Blue-eyed White (BEW) Ragdoll

By Christine Lupo

February 14, 2020

      Most people are apprehensive about acquiring a white cat for the following reason: According to the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats, "17 to 22 percent of white cats with nonblue eyes are deaf; 40 percent of "odd-eyed" white cats with one blue eye are deaf; and 65 to 85 percent of blue-eyed white cats are deaf." It is important to realize that NOT all "white" cats are genetically the same. I would not want to purposefully breed a handicapped cat. For this reason, I was, initially, apprehensive myself in choosing to work with this coloration, at least not until I had a firm understanding of the genetics and how to eradicate the possibility of deafness in one of my babies. 

     As far as what causes deafness in white cats, in some cases, cats actually have colors in their genetic makeup, but they also have a gene that causes a phenomenon, a mutation, called white masking. Blue Eyed White (BEW) Ragdolls have color that is masked by a white coat. This masking covers all other colors and prevents melanin from developing; however, a DNA test, a coat panel, will reveal the genotype of the cat's true coat color. In addition to this, UC Davis has developed a test for the white spotting factor so breeders will be cognizant of whether or not their cats carry the Dominant White genes and white spotting factor that play a role in causing deafness in cats. 

     My BEW Ragdoll female, Sugar, is a Solid Blue Eyed White (N/DW: 1 copy of the Dominant White mutation). This girl, this cat, is White, without the white spotting factor gene, masking SEAL COLORPOINT (Bb1Dd/cscs). Because she is one color "under" the white masking, she is not deaf and when bred to another colorpoint, the possibility of the presence of the white spotting factor, and deafness, is extremely minuscule. BEW Ragdolls should always be bred to a colorpoint to ensure the white spotting factor is not present to cause the slightest chance of deafness. Responsible, knowledgeable, and humane breeders of the BEWs must be aware of this. I will only produce altered pets out of my BEW girl. All BEW kittens that leave my house, my cattery, will be spayed or neutered. No exceptions.


         BEW Ragdolls are not actually white! They simply have a white spotting gene that covers their entire body. Their base color is not white, but the masking is so extensive that it makes the cat appear to have completely white fur. This condition really is actually a genetic mutation and can occur in cats that also have white spotting, or are dominantly (but not entirely) white. If the cat has even one hair that is a different color than white, it is not really a white cat, but possesses the white spotting gene. The single colored hair is actually the dominant color.

      Cats with white masking and white spotting will, sometimes, have blue eyes. This is because there is color in the genetic makeup, so the eyes are not pink as with that of an Albino cat, which consists of different genes. However, the spotting or masking may have reached the eyes. If the spotting or masking reaches the eyes, it covers the original color so that the eyes appear blue. The reason some blue-eyed white cats are deaf is because the spotting has reached the eyes, and if that is the case, it has most likely also reached the ears. The gene that causes a cat to have a white coat is a dominant white gene. As a result, the cat will have an underlying coat color and pattern. When the dominant white gene is present, however, that pattern will not be expressed. BEW Ragdolls can be colorpoint, mitted, or bicolor "underneath" the white masking. The more white, the more likely deafness is to occur; hence, breeding a BEW that is masking colorpoint TO a colorpoint is ideal to minimize even the slightest possibility of white spotting/deafness. I had a chocolate colorpoint boy that had white under his toes. He carried the white spotting factor. I would not use him with my BEW program.

     A cat that is homozygous (WW) or heterozygous (Ww) for this gene will have a white coat despite the underlying pattern/color. A cat that lacks this dominant masking gene (ww) will exhibit a coat colour/pattern. There are several sources for a white cat to have blue eyes. If the underlying coat pattern is one of a pointed cat (also referred to as a Siamese pattern), the blue eyes may come from the genetics of the pointed gene.A common misconception is that all white cats with blue eyes are deaf. It is possible to have a cat with a white coat without this gene, as an extreme form of the white spotting factor.

      There is a band of cells, melanocytes, that cause hair growth in the cochleae of the ears and are also present in the vicinity of the neural tube and eyes. Because melanin has an impact on the ionic balance (which effects nerve impulses or vibrations that send messages to the brain to interpret hearing) in the cochlea, the cochlea of the cat that carries the dominant white gene degenerates shortly after birth and the cat is permanently deaf. Sensory hearing loss refers to the inability to convert the vibrations into "neuronal excitation" caused by the loss of sensory hair cells. In deaf white cats, the reason for the hearing loss is sensory in nature. These cats show an inherited degeneration in the cochlea with a domino effect of harmful events resulting in the loss of inner and outer hair cells. Supporting cells in the organ of the complex epithelial structure (the thin tissue lining) in the cochlea, that contains thousands of hair cells and is the main part of the ear where sound waves are perceived, are partially preserved and the auditory nerve degenerates very slowly with age. The involvement of several genes working in lock step together cause deafness. The genetic background is related to the W-locus. 

      The inheritance of deafness can also be a recessive genetic disorder passed down by both parents, but this is different from the cause of deafness in improperly bred BEW Ragdolls. Nobody should be breeding BEW Ragdolls unless they have a clear understanding of the genetics involved with creating healthy BEW kittens without deafness occurring. 

                                         WORKS CITED

Cat Health Guides

January 15, 2018

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