The Ragdoll is an American cat breed with a medium-length, silky, rabbit-like coat. The Ragdoll cat is best known for it's docile and placid temperament and affectionate nature. The name "Ragdoll" is derived from the popular misconception that these cats go completely limp and relax when picked up, more often than other cats. It is also a myth that Ragdolls are pain-resistant. Ragdolls have a sturdy body with a large frame, proportionate legs, and a soft coat with points.
The Ragdoll cat typically has a very gentle and relaxed temperament. When the Ragdoll cat is socialized from birth the kittens are attentive and affectionate members of the family that enjoy and seek out human companionship. Ragdoll cats remain playful throughout their lives, adjust well to children and pets and are sometimes called "puppy-cats" because of their propensity to follow their owners from room to room and meet them at the door. Ragdoll cats are demurely vocal, careful with their claws and teeth when in play, plus forgiving of accidental mistreatment. Because of their non-defensive nature, a Ragdoll should never be allowed outdoors unattended.
Ragdolls require light grooming and great nutrition to give them an overall fluffy and healthy appearance. Although it is a myth that Ragdolls do not shed, their coat is easier to manage than many other long-haired breeds with just weekly combing to remove loose hairs and prevent mats. Bathing is rarely needed but may be well-tolerated, as are nail-clippings and vet visits.
Ragdolls come in 6 different colors - seal, chocolate, flame, and "dilutes" blue, lilac and cream. There are 3 different patterns: Pointed (nose, ears, tail and paws in the specific colors & no white), Mitted - white paws, chin and tummy, with or without a blaze (a white line on the face), and Bicolor - white tall socks, white inverted 'V' on the face, white tummy and often white patches on the back. Variations include a three-color "tortie-point" (mottled seal or blue with red present) and lynx (striped pattern on tail, face and points) which can be found in all 3 patterns.
History of the Ragdoll Cat:
The history of the Ragdoll begins in the early 1960s with Ann Baker, a breeder of Persians. She lived in the southern California city of Riverside. One of Ann Baker's neighbors was Mrs. Pennels, who owned a cat named Blackie. Blackie had the look of a Black Persian and was the son of an unregistered female called Josephine who was a blue-eyed White cat of semi-longhaired Angora appearance. Josephine had a rather uncertain temperament and had produced a number of litters very much like herself. She had been in the habit of borrowing Blackie to mate with her black Persians.
About 1963 Josephine was hit by a car and lay in the street for a couple of days. Eventually she was taken to the local university (presumably the School of Veterinary Science) where she recovered. Josephine was returned to Mrs. Pennels and continued to have kittens, but their character had changed. They had noticed that the kittens born after Josephine's accident had unusual characteristics. Unlike their mother, they were extremely friendly. They also had mat-free coats. Further, when picked up they became very floppy - just like a "ragdoll," thus the name of the breed chosen by the founder. As such, they began being carefully bred to produce both a beautiful and ultra-docile cat breed.
Mrs. Pennels had another male son of Josephine, but by a different father. Ann Baker called him Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks. This male was a most impressive cat who looked somewhat similar to the Birman breed with white socks on all feet, a little white stripe on his nose, a white chin with the white extending down his belly, and a white tip on his tail. Baker started to use this male, as well as Blackie, to mate to her Persians. Ann had also acquired a Black daughter of Blackie and Josephine, Buckwheat and was now given another of Josephine's daughters, this time sired by Daddy Warbucks. This Bi-colored cat was called Raggedy Ann Fugianna. With Daddy Warbucks, Buckwheat and Fugianna, the seeds of a new breed were planted and Ann Baker was about to reap the harvest.
Ragdoll Marketing & Franchise:
With the basis of the breed established, Ann Baker set about marketing the Ragdoll. She began her promotions with advertisements and articles. She also appeared on local and national TV to promote the Ragdoll. The name 'Ragdoll' was trademarked and anyone wishing to breed them could only do so on the basis of a franchise with registration through Ann Baker's own International Ragdoll Cat Association. Ann Baker's own abbitions were seemingly to become successful with a breed she had created via her own efforts. Also, she clearly believed she needed to retain control over the way in which the Ragdoll would develop as a breed. In order to maintain her control over the breed, Ann Baker sold individuals on a franchise basis. Under this arrangement, Baker had control of the breeding policy. She received royalties on each of the kittens sold by those who had bought into the franchise. She also registered the Ragdoll as a patented trademark that was fully enforceable. This meant that if anyone left the franchise, or did not fulfill the terms of the arrangement, they could not market any future kittens as being Ragdolls.
Not surprisingly, more than a few Ragdoll owners started to distance themselves from Ann Baker. Some quickly found that their attempts to avoid the terms of their agreement with her resulted in litigation and worry. However, in 1969 one couple decided to challenge her claim to royalties from kittens produced. They were Laura and Denny Dayton of California.
This couple obtained a pair of Ragdolls from Baker. The cats were Raggedy Ann Buddy (seal color point) and Raggedy Ann Rosie (Seal Mitted). Breeding from Raggedy Ann Buddy and Raggedy Ann Rosie, the Dayton’s were amazed when Ann Baker attempted to get more money from them when the time came for the kittens to be sold. Court actions ensued and as other franchises found Ann Baker's demands too onerous, the Dayton’s acquired more Ragdoll cats. Finally the franchise was legally broken. Other owners were not as willing to battle in court. The Dayton’s obtained stock from some of these, thus developing a strong breeding nucleus themselves. Their cattery name was Blossom Time. It became the most commonly seen prefix on pedigrees during the early years of the breed as it became established outside Ann Baker's influence. The Dayton’s formed a club called the Ragdoll Society (now the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International) in 1975 and began campaigning with the breed. Today every major association recognizes the Ragdoll. However, the battles had taken their toll on Denny and Laura and so by 1980 they were ready to pass the flame to the next runner.
In 1981 two breeders, Pat Brownsell and the late Lulu Rowley, acquired Blossom Time Lass, Blossom Time Lad, Blossom Time Proper and Blossom Time Prim in Norfolk, England. The Ragdolls had arrived in Great Britain.
Genetics and Patterns:
What makes the Ragdoll such an interesting proposition is its ability to breed true because of a series of genetic factors accidentally coming together in the original female Josephine and the two male cats she mated with to produce Blackie and Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks.
Josephine was a White cat with a semi-longhair coat. As one of her parents was a cat with a colored coat - whatever it might have been - the White cat Josephine inherited from her other parent acted as a kind of overcoat masking color underneath. On most White kittens there will be a flash of color on the top of the head. This fades by the time they are about nine months old but it gives an indication of what the color is under the 'overcoat'.
Genetically, Josephine was a Bi-color cat and in her mating with the male which produced Daddy Warbucks, what is now believed to be a newly identified gene for dominant matting occurred. This makes the Mitted Ragdoll completely separate from the Birman to which it passes a passing resemblance. It could have been that the sire of Daddy Warbucks also showed the Siamese pattern of coat. It is certain that he carried the gene recessively - like Blackie the sire of Buckwheat did - and this gene, together with color genes for Chocolate and dilute Blue, he passed on to Buckwheat. In this way, Buckwheat mated to Daddy Warbucks produced the Color point Ragdoll Ann Tiki.
And so the ingredients of the Ragdoll recipe were in place for, along with the Siamese pattern, Blue eye color is also inherited. Blue and Chocolate color genes present in both parents will produce Lilac kittens and, in addition, the semi-longhair coat is inherited as a recessive to short coat so that when two semi-longhairs are mated together, as happens with all recessive genes, true breeding is the result.
Three patterns have now been mentioned; Color point, Mitted and Bi-Color. Given appropriate matting’s the amount of white can be increased on both Mitted and Bi-Color cats. This gives the High Mitted, the Mid High White Bi-Color and the High White Bi-Color. For show purposes the last three are not recognized, but are incredibly useful for breeding.
The 1st Ragdolls:
Back to Top