With their large, soft eyes and long fur, Ragdoll cats are a breed you can’t forget. Ragdolls were so named by their founder – Ann Baker in the 1960s, due to their docile and laidback disposition. They are large, gentle and relaxed cats, relatively undemanding and tolerant to most situations. Due to their trusting nature, they are not streetwise, thus they are ‘indoor cats‘. Traditional Ragdolls are very people orientated, bonding closely to their owners with their famous placid and friendly temperament, wanting to be involved in all that is going on around them in the household or just simply relaxing – as only they know how!
Ragdolls are now one of the most popular breeds in the world, thanks to their loyal nature and loving personalities.
But how did these adorable cats come to be?
The Origin of Ragdoll Cats
The history of the Ragdoll Cat is highly controversial. Outlandish tales spun by their creator Ann Baker over time feature stories such as skunk genes and alien or human DNA being used to genetically alter the cat’s disposition to produce floppy kittens that don’t feel pain are far-fetched and false. One clinical examination was undertaken by Dr Andrew Nash of two Ragdolls from 1990-1991 in Glasgow (UK) who concluded that they were normal members of the feline family.
The early work with the breed began in 1963 with Ann Baker who lived in California and bred ‘Burmese’ experimental Persians. She worked in a Laundromat and the owner, Mrs Pennels, had about forty to fifty semi-feral cats living on her farm property. One of the cats was a white ‘Angora type’ cat named Josephine. Josephine was hit by a car when she was pregnant and was nursed back to health, after which Ann noticed a difference in the kittens born to Josephine. Ann noted that the resulting kittens were of wonderful nature, craving human attention and were large in size. They didn’t have matting fur, and had a non-fighting disposition, and become limp like a child’s ragdoll when handled. Josephine had several litters of kittens before she was sadly put down by Mr Pennels for being protective of her current litter and attacking their dog.
Josephine and her Kittens
Ann acquired three of Josephine’s offspring and began line breeding to produce the new breed which she named ‘Ragdoll’. The original three cats that become the foundation in creating the Ragdoll breed were:Daddy Warbucks – a seal mitted cat with a nose blaze and white-tipped tail.
Fugianna – a seal bicolor
Buckwheat – a thick furred black self (solid).
These cats and their offspring have been compared to other breeds such as Birmans and Burmese but Josephine and the fathers were semi-feral cats and therefore their parentage was unknown.
Ann started a breeding program that yielded three new patterns out of her original cats and their offspring., Colourpoint, Mitted and Bicolour. The first record of Ragdolls being sold was in early 1969 when Denny and Laura Dayton bought one breeding pair of Ragdolls from Ann Baker. Rosie and Buddy were the names given to these two cats, who became the foundation for what is now known as the Blossom-Time Cattery
It is from these small beginnings by the Daytons that most of our current Ragdolls trace their ancestry. During the years 1969-1973, the Daytons tried very hard to work with Ann to help promote the Ragdoll breed, but Ann wanted to retain total control.
In 1971 Ann set up her own registering body called International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA). She patented the Ragdoll name in 1975 and franchised out ‘breeding stock’ under strict contracts. Her aim was to develop a breed who resembled Daddy Warbucks and felt over time the Colourpoint and Bicolour patterns would disappear.
Ann became very eccentric and paranoid over the years and several of the original purchasers of her Ragdolls, such as the Daytons, ended their business with her. Many other early owners and breeders rebelled against being franchised, wanting no part of such an arrangement. The Dayton family continued breeding Ragdolls from the original lines until the 1980’s.
During their 13 years of breeding Ragdolls, the Daytons can be seen as having a pivotable role in Ragdoll history, which has helped to preserve the Ragdoll breed standards that we know and love. The Daytons created the Ragdoll Genetic Chart and formed the Ragdoll Society, with Denny serving as its first President. They also started up the first Ragdoll Cat newsletter and played a huge part in getting Ragdolls registered in all the various international cat associations over time.
Denny Deyton quote:
“No matter where the Ragdoll breed ends up, I would love to see it remain a blue eyed and pointed breed, no minks or sepias or solid variants”. I am a future Ragdoll breeder and I have been an owner and a Ragdoll fancier since March 2004, I will not let the minks, sepias, or solid variants accepted into our blue eyed and pointed breed!”
Ann Baker quote:
“Ragdolls are the only breed in the world that cannot be bred with anything else and keep going and still be a Ragdoll. The new DNA breeds will be able to produce their characteristics when mated to other breeds… but the Ragdoll… no way… to mate Ragdoll to another breed loses all that a Ragdoll is in time”.
Ragdoll Cat History Time Line
1963 – Ann begins work on what would be known worldwide as the Ragdoll breed of cat
1965 – First Ragdolls are born in Riverside, California
1966 – First Ragdolls are registered in NCFA: Daddy Warbucks, Fugianna, Tiki & Kyoto
1969 – Ann Baker sells her first breeding pair of Ragdolls to Denny & Laura Dayton
1971 – After a dispute with NCFA, Ann Baker creates her own registry of cats named International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA)
1973 – Blanche Herman buys her first breeding pair of Ragdolls from Ann Baker
1973 – Ragdolls make their first appearance in cat shows in NCFA
1973 – The Mitted Ragdoll receives Championship status in NCFA
1975 – Denny Dayton forms the First Ragdoll Club named “The Ragdoll Society”
1975 – Denny Dayton becomes the first President of The Ragdoll Society
1975 – Denny Dayton authorizes the publishing of the first Ragdoll Newsletter
1975 – Denny Dayton begins work on the Ragdoll Genetic Chart which continues to this day
1976 – Ragdolls shown in ACFA, CFF, UCF, CROWN & ACC
1976 – All 3 patterns of Ragdolls accepted for Championship in CFF & Crown
1977 – The Ragdolls are rejected for membership in ACFA
1977 – The Ragdoll Society newsletter is renamed the RAG with a new Editor, Doris Michaux
1978 – The Ragdoll Society changes its name to Ragdoll Fanciers Club (RFC)
1978 – UCF accepts Ragdolls for championship competition`
1979 – Riegelman Perpetual Trophy in introduced as an incentive to show more Ragdolls
1979 – TICA breaks away from ACFA and accepts the Ragdolls for Championship competition
1979 – CFF accepts RFC as an official breed club similar to CFA membership today
1979 – Ragdolls included in Encyclopedia of American Cats
1979 – ACC accepts the Ragdolls for Championship competition
1979 – First Genetic Seminar is held by Solveig Pflueger PhD, proving that Ragdolls do breed true
1980 – Denny & Laura sell 12 Ragdolls to Lulu Rowley in England
1980 – Blossom-Time Pip appears on the cover of Cats Magazine
1980 – ACFA again rejects accepting the Ragdoll
1981 – ACFA finally accepts the Ragdoll for Championship status
1981 – The Ragdolls make their first petition to CFA for acceptance but are rejected
1982 – Denny & Laura Dayton retire from breeding
1993 – CFA accepts Ragdolls to be allowed to be shown in Miscellaneous Class.
1993 – Ragdolls make their first appearance at the CFA International Show in Nashville, Tennesse.
1994 – Mitted and Colorpoint Ragdolls could no longer be shown in Miscellaneous class but still could be shown in Exhibition Class. This lasted until 2006.
1997 – RAG accepted by the CFA as an official Ragdoll Breed Club.
1997 – Ann Baker dies of lung cancer.
1998 – Bicolor Ragdoll Cats advanced to Provisional by the CFA from Miscellaneous class. The Van pattern was also advanced.
1999 – CFA rejects to advance Bicolor and Van patten Ragdolls to Championship status.
2000 – CFA advances Ragdoll Bicolors and Vans to Championship status.
2004 – A second CFA Ragdoll Club – the Ragdoll Breed Club was started.
2005 – CFA reject to advance Colorpoint and Mittted Ragdolls to AOV status.
2006 – CFA Board vote to advance Colorpoint and Mittted Ragdolls to AOV status.
2008 – CFA Board vote to advance Mitted and colorpoint Ragdolls to Championship status.
2010 – Laura Dayton dies of old age
2015 – Denny Dayton dies of congested heart failure.
What is a Ragdoll Cat?
Traditional Ragdoll cats have endearingly sweet expressions and are large and muscular giving an overall impression of majestic elegance, power and strength – in particular, the male – big and loveable, some neutered boys can reach 20 pounds or more! The female is generally much smaller, but no less appealing. With their striking blue eyes which captivate all who meet them, complimented with a silky medium-length coat which requires grooming once a week – the Traditional Ragdoll cat is beguiling to say the least.
It is at maturity the Ragdoll really comes into its own – with full neck ruff and knickerbockers together with the silky semi-long coat which adorns its body through to the long plumed tail. The head features a wide earset with full cheeks, tapering down to a curved muzzle – which on profile shows that wonderful ‘Ragdoll Smile’!
The Traditional Ragdoll is very slow to mature, often taking the full four years to achieve its great legendary beauty. Being ‘pointed’ cats, they are born completely white and within the first few days, their patterning and colour start to materialise, developing slowly and surely as they pass through that lanky leggy adolescent phase with the pinched face and big ears – into the magnificent creature the Ragdoll was always destined to be! Unlike many breeds of cat, who are often at their most attractive as kittens, the Traditional Ragdoll becomes more beautiful with age.