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History Time Line
The Ragdoll Myth
|Appearance & Character |
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Breeders & Rescue
|Photograph copyright Helmi Flick – please respect copyright. This is BLOSSOM LOVE STRUCK BABY SAGE – see a fantastic large format image of this and some information about this attractive cat.|
This is a cat whose name is based on the cat’s character not its location of origin or appearance. The name is part of the creation of this cat breed.
The beautiful Ragdoll cat (both physically and in temperament) is a testament to how a fine purebred pedigree cat can be created from random bred cats.
The history of the beginnings of this breed are a little confusing and what follows should not be taken as fact despite being reliably sourced3. The breed was created and developed by Ann Baker in the early 1960s, in Riverside California6, initially by mating the special kittens from a Persian “type” cat (Josephine see below) with a Birman “type” (see below Daddy Warbucks) and a Burmese cat (not sure if this is the case!). Josephine has also been described as “Angora type”6.
In more detail but still in outline the founding cats for this breed were3:
Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks was the offspring of Josephine, a random bred cat living with Ann Baker’s neighbour, Mrs Pennels and an unknown father. At the time of Daddy Warbuck’s birth Josephine had allegedly turned from a cat that gave birth to “difficult” offspring to ones that had tranquil natures and the change was put down to a car accident (in which she suffered head injuries6) and the treatment that followed. This change sparked an interest in Ann Baker who, it seems, believed in the possibility of such a phenomenon occurring. It seems that Ann Baker created a myth (perhaps no longer believed and certainly disproved7) that this cat was immune to pain or had a high pain threshold. This is clearly impossible. perhaps this was all part and parcel of creating a mystique around this breed to promote it. Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks looked a bit like a Birman – white socks, white chin and white tip on the tail.
Buckwheat was the offspring of Blackie and Josephine. Blackie was Josephine’s son. Blackie was black and looked like a Persian cat. Buckwheat was black too.
Raggedy Ann Fugianna was the offspring of Josephine and Daddy Warbucks.
Josephine, the mother of the above, was a white semi-long haired cat that looked like an Angora cat3. Angora cats are similar to traditional Persian cats. She was almost feral6. It is not clear if this cat was rescued by Baker or Pennels6.
Thumbnail Photo: Copyright Helmi Flick – click for large image
Through careful breeding thereafter the breed was developed. In fact the development of this breed to registration was carried out by the Daytons, see below.
This is a highly popular cat because of an attractive combination of appearance, a fine/balanced character and little in the way of genetically associated health issues (see health issues below)
Perhaps their docile, trusting and accepting nature makes them more vulnerable to danger. There is more danger outside the home. No doubt this encourages people to keep them in, which they should find acceptable. Some say that this breed is “strictly” an indoor cat. I talk about indoor and outdoor cats and building cat enclosures
|early 1960s||Ann Baker, a Californian cat breeder, starts creating the breed|
|1960s and 70s?||Ann Baker seems to have created the myth that this breed is immune to pain and have human genes – alienating other breeders|
|?||Denny Dayton an early breeder of this breed founds the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RFCI)|
|1967||Ragdoll first registered in the USA due to the efforts of Denny Drayton|
|1971||Ann Baker creates her own cat association, International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA)|
|1975||Ann Baker patented the name “Ragdoll” – breeders who acquired their Ragdolls before the patent was issued, did not feel bound by it|
|2005||Patent for the the name “Ragdoll” expired|
|Currently||Ann Baker is deceased and despite her perhaps bitter fight to retain “rights” over her creation she left the legacy of this wonderful breed of cat. 500+ breeders worldwide. The breed is fully accepted with the major associations including TICA, CFA, FIFe and GCCF7.|
The history of the RagaMuffin is bound up with the Ragdoll. In addition, it seems that there was a plan to produce a cat that perhaps defied logic and biology called the Catenoid (IRCA). The idea was to create a cat that when mated with any other breed produced offspring that were Ragdoll cats that complied with IRCA standards. Nice idea, looks impossible. This seems to have faded after the death of Anne Baker.
Ann Baker must have been a person who believed in a sort of metaphysics or the power of things to happen that cannot be explained by science. This gave her the mind set to create the idea that Josephine’s accident or her subsequent treatment could result in some sort of genetic change to her and/or her offpsring. This was not science but it was the motivator to create a new breed of cat.
Speculating for a minute, I wonder if the whole pehenomenon of the miraculous change in the character of Josephine’s offspring was a promotional exercise upon which Baker believed she could successfully create and build a new breed. She perhaps thought a new breed needed something different to make it stand out. The 60s were a decade when most new breeds were created in the last century (15 in the 1960s – see cat history) and competition was tough.
Ann Baker was on the face of it very competitive, as she registered the Ragdoll name as a trademark to protect it. She created more than a cat breed but also a business model and the mentality to do that indicates to me that the whole proceess might have been planned to a certain extent from start to finish.
Ann Baker was a Persian cat breeder. Persians are also docile and good indoor cats. Perhaps Baker wanted to build on her experiences as a Persian breeder and create a cat that had this docile, limp, accepting behavior and the “phenomenon story” fits nicely into that desire.
Unfortunately she alienated people in the process.
If you’d like to read more on Ann Baker and some of the myths and facts (from a first hand observer) surrounding the origins of this breed click here: Ragdoll information.
Ann Baker set up a franchise for the breeding of Ragdoll cats. [definition of franchise: a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business4]. This was a way of getting other people to help her expand the breed6 but in a controlled way. I think this is the first and last time this has been tried in the cat fancy.
In other words people breeding Ragdoll cats had to do it by her rules and register with her registry set up in the 1970s6: International Ragdoll Cat Association. She set strict breeding rules; something that must have seemed a little unusual at the time. Laura and Denny Dayton in 1969 signed up and progressed the development of the breed but fell out with Baker due to her alleged unreasonable demands. There was litigation and no doubt there was animosity2. In the 1970s a group of Ragdoll breeders broke away from the franchise and worked towards the breed’s acceptance at other registries and bred the cat according to their own objects and standards. Success followed6.
If you’d like to read more on Ann Baker and some of the myths and facts (from a first hand observer) surrounding the origins of this breed click here: Ragdoll information.
The history is interesting thanks to Ann Baker’s bahavior. The appearance and character of the Ragdoll cat is perhaps one of the best known, in part, because of the breed’s descriptive name.
The first thing to note is that this cat is pointed (darker extremities – colorpoint coat) with blue eyes. As for the Siamese, Ragdoll cats are born white and the dark extremities develop due to heat differences throughout the body. The fur is rabbit like, it is said, meaning soft and silky. The body medium to large2 and muscular. The body is long and the boning heavy.
Photo of Bicolor Ragdoll: copyright Helmi Flick
One of the four different patterns has no white interfering with the points (see Ophelia above). The other three patterns are (a) mitted, the same as the Snowshoe and Birman. In the mitted pattern there is a limited amount of white fur on the feet and the face, (b) bicolor, an example of a classic bicolor is the Japanese Bobtail, in which there is more white and the white is also on the body and (c) van, see Turkish Van.
These latter three patterns have varying degrees of white spotting on the fur. The most white fur is found on the bicolor, the least on the mitted. See the genetics section for a brief discussion the action of the genes causing these patterns. The fur is semi-long.
The van and bicolor can compete for prizes in CFA shows while the other two patterns can show but not compete for titles.
There are six point colors5:
11th Jan 2011 Update: I have added a page on the Ragdoll Breed Standard with a large Helmi photo (marked up).
The points can be solid, lynx points (meaning that the point is a tabby point as it is affected by the tabby and Agouti genes) or parti-colored (or tortie). Lynx points can also be tortie-lynx. As a result the above list can be extended to include the following:
SEAL LYNX POINT – the pointed areas are seal (dark brown) brown stripes or bars against a lighter background.
CHOCOLATE LYNX POINT – warm milk chocolate tabby banding against a lighter background.
BLUE LYNX POINT – cold body tone (bluish to platinum grey) and clearly defined blue/gray bars (see Myst below). LILAC LYNX POINT – glacial white body fur and frosty/pinkish tabby bars
RED LYNX POINT – white body with points of deep red bars (see Lestyn above heading this page).
CREAM LYNX POINT – clear white body with tabby points that are pale buff to light pink bars
SEAL-TORTIE POINT – pale fawn to cream body with points that are mottled red/cream seal point. CHOCOLATE-TORTIE POINT – milk chocolate points mottles with cream/red on a ivory colored body.
BLUE-CREAM POINT – deep blue/grey points mottled with cream against a bluish/grey body color. LILAC-CREAM POINT – frosty grey points with a pink tone mottled with pale cream on a glacial white body. SEAL-TORTIE LYNX POINT – seal brown tabby bars on the points mottled by red/cream tortoiseshell pattern against a cream/pale fawn body color. CHOCOLATE-TORTIE LYNX POINT – milk chocolate tabby points mottled by the tortoiseshell gene (red/cream) against an ivory body. BLUE-CREAM LYNX POINT – blue/grey bars (overlayed with cream mottling) on the points against a bluish white/platinum grey body color. LILAC-CREAM LYNX POINT – grey/pinkish tabby bars at points overlayed with cream against a glacial white body.
Despite being a medium longhaired cat, an advantage with Ragdolls cats is that their coat requires less maintenance than a Persian’s coat. This is because there is no undercoat. There is also less shedding.
Their character is well known as being gentle, laid back and relaxed (provided they are properly socialized as kittens). Their character seems to be similar to the Birman, which is perhaps unsurprising as a Birman type cat was part of the development of this breed. Ragdoll cats have a quite voice to match the gentle character. Apparently the breed is favoured by Australians on the basis that it is not interested in hunting and is therefore no threat to the native wildlife7. There is great concern in Australia over the loss of wildlife to feral cats. See for example the issues surrounding the importation of the Savannah cat
Ragdoll cat – photo copyright Helmi Flick
Ragdoll cats behavior
This is a link to a post about this cat’s behavior, which, frankly, is not that different to other cat breeds but definitely laid back. Ragdolls, like Siamese are born white as pointing is heat sensitive. It takes about 2 years to have a settled color. Ragdolls are slow to mature (aged 3).
Ragdoll cats may shed less than Persians but you’re going to have a bit of fur maintenance (regular grooming) and clearing up to do. They shed a lot it seems too. As for being docile, I think not. Placid maybe but not necessarily lap cats. I think whether a cat is a lap cat or not is a characteristic personal to the cat rather than a cat breed trait. Or it may be in part a result of early kittenhood training.
This has a bearing on whether they are exactly suited to permanent indoor living. It would seem that the word is out that they should be kept in.
Above: Ragdoll cats – A fine Raggie – photo copyright Helmi Flick
Ragdolls like human company a lot. But you know all domestic cats do. It is the relationship upon which their existence depends after all. Anyway Ragdoll cats may need human company more than average and this may make them more vulerable outside. Of course cats can catch diseases such as FIV and FeLV outside, but then it is possible that I’ll get knocked down by a bus. Life is full of risk and we shouldn’t try make life risk free because we spoil life if we do. It is a balancing exercise as for all things. It is our duty to provide as full a life for our cats as possible (and as safe as possible).
Because they like company and are quite vocal they ask you a lot of questions (basically requests, you know what I mean).
As mentioned, all Ragdoll cats are pointed with blue eyes and long hair and are therefore similar to the Himalayan, which is a cross between the Siamese and longhaired cats. The Himalayan is also called a Colorpoint and genetically there is some of the Colorpoint in the Ragdoll.
Overlayed on the colorpoint coloring and points is the effect of the piebald gene or white spotting gene that causes the white spotting. This gene has the symbol S. It is thought that the mitted pattern (white on legs and face) can be expressed genetically as Ss (heterozygous form). Whereas, when there is more white as in the bicolor and van pattern the white spotting gene is homozygous – SS.
In addition to the action of the piebald or white spotting gene the other genes responsible for the coat color and pointing are, in seal point Ragdoll cats, the following: aa (non-agouti or self, solid color), B-(black in recessive or dominant form), cˢcˢ (the Siamese gene in homozygous form)and D- (the dense coloration gene in recessive or dominant form indicated by the hephen after the letter).
A number of cat breeds have, it seems, a predisposition to contracting HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy). Ragdoll cats fall into this group. The others that come to mind are the Maine Coon, British Shorthair and Bengal. I have made some posts on HCM in Bengal cats that would apply equally to Ragdoll cats:
A fair bit of work is being done on this heart disease. The Maine Coon seems thus far to have got the lions share of the research. If and when other inherited diseases come to my attention (if any), I’ll mention them here. If you can assist please tell me here.
Update: As at mid-December 2008 there are reports coming out (maybe they came out earlier) that Ragdoll cats can inherit a potentially fatal disease linked to a defective recessive gene, called Mucopolysaccharidosis MPS1 (Lysosomal Storage Disease). Read about it here.
Ragdoll cat rescue – link to this page
I guess we should all make the effort to see if we can re-home a purebred cat before we buy one. They are out there. Sometimes you get lucky and the cat does too.
Ragdoll cats – Breeders
Top listed Google non-directory Ragdoll cattery websites in descending order except for the top link, which is part of a link exchange agreement (links open in new window).
Located in North Carolina. “We offer ragdoll kittens with puppy-like personalities, that will follow you, sleep with you, and greet you at the door. Well socialized and loved by our family. (704) 636-8038 firstname.lastname@example.org”
Located in Mira Loma, California, USA. They say that they have been operating since 1977 (remarkable and congratulations are due). Nice informative site.
Stellarhart Ragdolls – link broken 2012
Located Southern California, USA. Operating since 1986 (more congrats due). Clean sensibe site.
Austin Farm Ragdoll Cattery
Located Rhode Island, USA. Looks a quality business.
Barbidolz Ragdoll Cattery
Located Lyman Maine, USA (60 miles north of Boston). Website is too busy/flashy (sorry).
Located California, USA (not clear from site).
Located Rhode Island, USA.
Mainely Country Ragdoll Cattery
Located Mercer, Maine, USA. Hobbt Cattery in the country.
MistyDoll Ragdolls – Link broken 2012.
Located North Dakota, USA. Cattery for 11 years.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
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Solo the Ragdoll Solo is a 14lb neutered blue mitted Ragdoll, with a blaze. He is the chillest cat I have ever met, and follows me from room to room like a puppy. He …
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Toki the Once Orphaned Kitten. I was given my Ragdoll by my 17 year old sister. One of her friends had brought him home and could not keep him. My son was about a month old and …
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