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Ragdoll History


         Ragdolls are known for their substantial size, docile and affectionate temperament, long non-matting coats, striking appearance, blue eyes, and the tendency to relax in a person's arms, and for their infamous flop; hence, their namesake: Ragdoll. Ragdolls are referred to as the “Golden Retriever” of the cat world, as well as puppies in cat suits. The Ragdoll breed was first created by a woman, Ann Baker, who was breeding black Persians and Apple headed lilac Balinese cats in Riverside, California in the 1960s. The name of her cattery was Raggedy Ann. Ann Baker's client entrance attached to her home. The story of the mother of all Ragdolls is interesting and includes both the famous first cat, Josephine, and her breeder, Ann Baker. Ragdoll cats were bred from preexisting breeds and, as the years went by, the traits that were more desirable were kept and the undesirable traits were bred out of the lines. The results were large, exquisite Ragdoll Cats with serene dispositions. You can see beautiful Ragdolls at cats shows in your local area.

       According to Ann Baker, the foundation cat, Josephine, produced unremarkable kittens until she was struck by a car in the early 1960s. After her recovery, all of her subsequent litters produced kittens that displayed characteristics that are today referred to as Ragdoll traits. Josephine lived next door to Ann Baker. The neighbors who claimed ownership of Josephine were the Pennels. Ms. Baker decided she had to have some of the kittens from Josephine. After the car accident, Josephine mated with a feral black and white mitted long-haired tom and produced a solid black Persian looking male kitten that Ann Baker kept as a stud named "Blackie". Another unplanned litter by Josephine followed which produced a seal mitted male named "Daddy Warbucks." What Ann clearly states is that "Blackie" and "Daddy Warbucks" are both sons of Josephine, but with different sires who were unknown and undocumented. Ann Baker created her own registry for Ragdolls in 1971 called the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA). In the IRCA booklet it would appear to indicate that Blackie's father was a black cat from the East, that appeared more Persian than Burmese.

         During detailed questioning, Ann confirmed that no-one had ever seen the father of Daddy Warbucks, and he was the only kitten in that particular litter of Josephine’s. Many versions of the history of Ragdolls incorrectly state that Daddy Warbucks was of Birman descent. It should also be noted that the white spotting gene in the Bicolor and Mitted Ragdolls is quite different from that which produces the white gloves and laces in the Birman. Daddy Warbucks did have front mittens similar to Birman cats. However, while Daddy Warbucks may have looked Birman, he certainly was not a Birman. The Ragdoll's white spotting gene is definitely not the same as in the Birman breed. This has also been confirmed by TICA's Genetics Committee Chairperson, Dr. Solveig Pflueger, M.D., Ph.D. This being so, makes it difficult to take the origins of the breed further. According to letters sent to Blanche Herman, Ann also used some of her Black Persians and Lilac Balinese to breed with her Ragdolls, although Ann Baker did not want this to be common knowledge.

       Even though 'Blackie' and "Daddy Warbucks" were Josephine's sons, Ann Baker bred them back to Josephine, and then bred daughters from those matings back to their fathers. This is referred as in-line breeding, and some Ragdoll breeders have relied on it. This type of inbreeding can result in healthy offspring, but some genetic abnormalities are usually produced. Ann Baker documented that she believed seven generation of females needed to be bred back to their original sires. Ann Baker kept control of the Ragdoll breed by making it into a franchise operation, where she was paid a royalty fee for all of the kittens that were sold and she was also paid for the cats that she had sold as breeders.

      The first group consisted of Buckwheat, the daughter of Blackie and Josephine, and was called "The Dark Side." An interesting fact is that the first litter between Buckwheat and Daddy Warbucks produced four kittens of ragdoll history; two solid kittens and two pointed kittens. The two solid kittens were named Gueber and Mitts, and although they were used for additional breedings, and eventually were used to breed Ragamuffins, they were not registered as Ragdolls. This leads us to believe that solids were indeed part of the original Ragdoll family; however, their pointed siblings, Kyoto and Tiki, were registered and crucial to the formation of Ragdolls from "The Dark Side."

Queen: Raggedy Ann Tiki (Chocolate Colorpoint Ragdoll)

Stud: Raggedy Ann Kyoto (Seal Mitted [photo below] eventually took Daddy Warbuck’s place)

        "The Light Side" consisted of lighter kittens mainly in the patterns of bicolor and mitted from Josephine and Daddy Warbucks. The second group’s queen was Fugianna, the daughter of Daddy Warbucks and Josephine. Both Josephine and Fugianna mated with Daddy Warbucks to produce the first Ragdolls on the light side. Ann Baker's dedication to Josephine's offspring and her two new programs led her to register them as a new breed, Ragdolls, in 1965 with the National Cat Fanciers Association (NCFA). She eventually registered Josephine's litters under the new breed name of Ragdolls. It is from the five cats, Josephine, Daddy Warbucks, Fugianna, Blackie, and Buckwheat, that 100% Traditional Ragdolls are descended. Only two were registered as Ragdolls, Daddy Warbucks and Fugianna, in the NCFA in 1966. Kyoto and Tiki are also considered to be part of the Traditional Ragdoll lineage. They are as follows:

Daddy Warbucks, a male seal mitted with blaze, was registered as #66-0577-6 and was said to be bred by Merle Pennel (Light Side).

Tiki, a female chocolate colorpoint, was registered as #66-0578-6 and was said to be bred by Ann Baker of Raggedy Ann Ragdolls (Dark Side).

Kyoto, a male seal mitted, was registered as #66-0579-6 and was said to be bred by Ann Baker of Raggedy Ann Ragdolls (Dark Side).

Fugianna, a female seal bicolor, was registered as #66-0580-6 and was said to be bred by Merle Pennel (Light Side).

Ann's breeding program was a strict one. The IRCA booklet described Ann's breeding program as follows. New owners were sold a cross of Fugianna and Tiki kittens. They had to line breed for seven generations and not use any resulting male offspring for breeding purposes, only the male originally purchased. After the seventh generation, they had to use another direct son of Josephine's, purchased from Ann, at which point they could breed “authentic” Ragdolls.

Original Ragdolls

        1975 Patent: 3 patterns and 4 colors for Ragdolls by Ann Baker

        On the 9th of September of 1975, that was ten years after the registration of her race, Ann Baker put a patent on her race (supposedly until 2005), on the three pattern colorpoint, mitted, and bicolor and on the 4 colors seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. She hoped that her race Ragdoll would last in its appearance. Because of this patent, and the Denny Dayton genetic chart, the founder stem of the Ragdoll retained in its original appearance like it was patented. We call this Ragdoll, today, the Original Ragdoll. To maintain this original line, the name Original-Ragdoll is used.

Lilac and Chocolate Ragdolls

         Due to breeders not completely understanding color and genetics, the colors of chocolate and lilac were all but lost in breeding. There were some breeders that did like them and continued breeding them, but most breeders ignored them and sold them as pets. Breeders that would have lilacs and chocolates probably thought their colors were just 'poor' blues and seals. Some breeders try to find the last remaining lilacs in the gene pool from 100% traditional lines, but that is close to impossible. There are a handful of other Ragdoll breeders who started to out-cross to other breeds like the Birman, the Himalayan, or the Balinese, in the mid- 1990s to re-introduce the chocolate and lilac genes. If it were not for out-crossing, there would be no Lynx Ragdolls, no Red, nor Tortie Ragdolls; although there a are a rare few that are from Baker's original cats. Ragdoll breeders are an extremely opinionated group and there are breeders on both sides of the fence on whether they think out-crosses should EVER be used for Ragdolls. In the cat associations, usually a cat that is NOT a ragdoll has to breed through THREE generations before the kitten is considered a full-bred Ragdoll with a Stud Book Traditional (SBT) title. Many of these Ragdolls, initially, often do not have the right fur, markings, boning, musculature, eye color, and temperament, and many have acquired some of the health problems of their ancestor's secondary breed. The reason a breeder would consider outcrossing most likely is due to the fact a breeder needs to perfect their cats’ health, temperament, and/or conformation to breed standards. It is, however, a definite fact that the Ragdoll is a unique, (wo)man-made, American breed.

Red, Tortie, Lynx, and Blue-Eyed White Ragdolls

        On the subject of outcrossing, it was stated that Red, Tortie, and Lynx marked Ragdolls were produced by breeders utilizing another breed to introduce into the lines those colors and/or patterns they desired. These aforementioned Ragdolls are registered in all cat associations and accepted for championship, as they are blue-eyed pointed cats. Blue eyed white Ragdolls, that we see today, are produced through the introduction of a Persian, Angora, or other white cat used as the foundation. They are considered SOLID cats, but they have blue eyes and mask a pointed color under the white. Ann Baker’s Josephine was not any particular breed and her history was unknown. When she was bred to a male Burmese type cat, they produced solid and pointed kittens. The blue-eyed pointed kittens were kept and bred to be known as the Ragdolls that you see today. The blue-eyed white Ragdoll will produce both pointed and solid white kittens. They CAN be shown in certain organizations, such as The International Cat Association (TICA), under “New Traits.” Likewise, Cat registries will deem an animal Stud Book Traditional (SBT) after three generations removed from the foundation cat.

Mink, Sepia, and Solid Ragdolls

          Mink, Sepia, and Solid Ragdolls (that are not blue eyed white) do not adhere with the breed standard of multiple organizations and clubs that state that a Ragdoll is a blue-eyed pointed cat. Ann Baker bred Buckwheat, a Burmese cat in appearance, to Daddy Warbucks that produced kittens carrying the Burmese and pointed genes. These Ragdolls can be traced back to the original Ragdolls. Outcrosses to Tonkinese, Burmese, and Ragamuffins have also been utilized in order to produce these colors and patterns. Breeders have produced Ragdoll cats that are not pointed and with various eye colors. Mink, Sepia, and Solid are not registerable in all cat associations, for example, CFA. They are not currently accepted for championship in North America. Many Ragdoll clubs do not allow breeders of this variation to join or advertise their non-blue eyed kittens. The Mink, Sepia, and Solid Ragdolls may be shown, however, in TICA, under “New Traits.” Like the Red, Tortie, and Lynx Ragdolls, after breeding to true Ragdolls for three generations removed from the foundation cat, they are able to receive SBT designation and recognition as a Ragdoll in TICA. Those Solid and Mink Ragdolls that trace back to the original cats are rare, far and few between. 

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