HISTORY OF THE RAGDOLLL CAT
by The Traditional Cat Association
"The Traditional Ragdoll is a longhaired, large, calm breed that is available
in several colors, three patterns and two histories. The colors are Seal, Chocolate, Lilac and Blue, with gorgeous blue eyes.
The patterns are Mitted, Pointed, and Bicolor. The histories are perplexing. The Traditional Ragdoll does breed true, however.
It has not been necessary to reintroduce any of the original cats used to maintain it now.
Approximately 40 years
ago Ann Baker founded the breed. The original Traditional Ragdoll was Josephine, a long haired, free roaming, solid white
female, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pennels in Riverside CA. Ann became acquainted with the Pennels family through the church they
attended. "Josephine looked like an Angora, with slick sides and a bushy tail," Ann wrote. After Josephine was run
over by a car in the early 60’s, she mated with different non-purebred males and it was found that Josephine reproduced
her own characteristics 100 % of the time in each kitten she had. For a time Ann was borrowing one of Josephine’s older
sons from the Pennels, as a stud for her Black Persian females. This son was a black/brown long hair, who Ann named Blackie.
During one of her visits to borrow Blackie, Ann saw Blackie’s brother, who was a Seal Point, mitted, long-haired tom,
with a slight white strip down his nose and a white tail tip. In appearance he was like a "Sacred Cat of Burma",
or Birman. Ann was able to borrow this stud male to use on her females too. She named him "Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks".
We don’t know these two stud cat’s true blood lines, because their sires were feral toms. The father of Raggedy
Ann Daddy Warbucks was never seen by anyone. Blackie’s father was a black cat from the East that appeared more Persian
then Burmese. Ann Baker wrote, "The original Ragdolls were all ally cats." What Ann clearly stated is that Blackie
and Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks were both sons of Josephine, but had different sires. "Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks"
became the "father" of the Traditional Ragdoll breed.
Different fathers mated with Josephine, producing three
kittens who became the next generation to perpetuate the breed. They were Daddy War Bucks litter mate, Fugianna, who was lanky
and long like her mother. Josephine’s next litter, sired by a solid brown longhaired tom, included Tiki, a Seal Point
female and a black-and white mitted male named, Buckwheat, who had thick fur, a heavy body, ears set out to the side, a short,
medium nose and uniquekly walked down hill. A son of Josephine’s was then used to further the efforts. All subsequent
generations can be traced to these cats.
Further comments by Ann Baker were, "Although the original mother was
white, she mated to any cat that could catch her; mostly dark cats and our best were black. The first ones were registered
as "experimental Persians". It took seven generations of line breeding to make the black cats into the Traditional
A problem arose when an early franchise purchaser mixed other breeds into the original blood stock he
purchased from Ann Baker and then inbred the resulting kittens to each other. Ann stated these were not true Traditional Ragdolls.
Another group was formed called the Ragdoll Fanciers’ Club (RFC) who published that the Traditional Ragdoll was created
from a combination of three cats: a White Persian, a Birman and a Burmese. However, there is no documented basis for this
statement, because those who wrote it were not eye wittnesses. From that point on there were two separate and distinct breeds
being called by the same breed name, "Ragdoll".
Ann Baker formed the International Ragdoll Cat Association,
Inc. (IRCA) in 1971 to protect the breed. "Only licensed IRCA breeders can produce the Authentic Ragdolls, Honey Bears
and Miracle Ragdolls with double guarantees from their breeder and one from me. If you do not have an IRCA Registered kitten,
you do not have a true Ragdoll," Wrote Ann Baker. She further wrote that "there are five differences between Ragdolls
and other breeds: 1.Bigger. 2. More impervious to pain. 3. Less endowed with self-preservation instincts. 4. Non-matting fur.
5. They go limp in a person’s arms when they are held. This tendency to relax their bodies like a child’s rag
doll inspired their name".
This writer must question the allegations "more impervious to pain" and "less
endowed with self-preservation instincts". Ann Baker put forth these ideas because Josphine was run over by a car and
supposedly gave these attributes to her kittens as a result of the accident! She also said, "Josephine was taken to a
laboratory after being struck by a car, where she was genetically altered as part of a government experiment." Perhaps
an individual cat’s behavior might be altered by such events, but a cat’s genetic makeup can’t be altered
in this way. Therefore changes couldn’t be passed on to the offspring. A Traditional Ragdoll will defend itself if necessary,
too. Such Twilight Zone stories are a stretch of the imagination. This is a cat we are talking about. NO cat is provided with
such things and putting these ideas forth could possibly cause Traditional Ragdolls to be deliberately abused by people. Geneticists
of today state, "There is no scientific evidence that Traditional Ragdolls are less sensitive to pain than other breeds."
all of them go limp when held either. This is a response dependent upon environment, but the tendency is there.
both formulas for the Traditional Ragdoll pontificated by both groups are plausible. Each is shadowed by a lot of "ifs".
If the Birman male used was a purebred, he could have produced a Traditional Ragdoll if Josephine was carrying a white spotting
gene and a pointed gene. This same "if" applies to the White Persian female, if that was what Josephine was. However,
the possibility that a purebred White Persian would be carrying white spotting and pointed genes are more remote than the
chances that a white, non-purebred street cat would. To add to the postulating let’s say the male Birman was not a purebred.
Then Josephine had to carry the pointed gene in order to produce a Traditional Ragdoll kitten. The recessive gene responsible
for the white mittens on Birman feet is different from the dominant white spotting gene responsible for the mittens on the
mitted Traditional Ragdolls.
Traditional Ragdolls possess the colorpoint gene that causes color concentration to the
"point" areas (face, mask, ears, legs and tail) plus the white spotting factor gene that governs the white areas
on the cat’s body. The result is a gorgeous breed with a nice variety in coloration.
Dr. Pflueger, a geneticist,
stated, "It doesn’t really matter where the Traditional Ragdoll came from. You don’t need to justify its
existence with strange stories. It’s a very nice cat."
Eventually the Traditional Ragdolls bred by the RFC
club were accepted to Championship status by cat associations.
Genial good nature,
exceptionally gentle, irresistibly huggable, docile, mild mannered, congenial, very people oriented, well balanced temperament,
cuddly, stoic, friendly, playful, but not overactive, and affectionate are only some of the wonderful attributes of the Traditional
Ragdoll. Highly intelligent cats, they can be trained to walk on a leash. Observing and imitating is their way of learning
too. Easily adapting to their environment, they get along will with people and children. Dogs are especially their friends,
because they will attach themselves readily to the family dog. Wanting to be where you are causes them to follow you through
your days activities with interest. A loving nature makes them easy prey for other animals, so they are strictly indoor cats.
Some possess a unique characteristic of going limp in your arms when held. This breed does not display the independence and
aloofness for which other cats are generally known. Often they like to sleep on their backs with their legs spread out. Regardless
of how big they grow or how old they get, they retain their baby sweetness.
Their meow isn’t similar to that of
other cats, but closer to a tiny baby cry, almost softly musical.
As very sound sleepers, they sometimes continue to
sleep after being picked up. If very tired you can shake them and they still will not awaken.
Born white, they acquire
their full color at about age 2 and full height and weight at age 4.
Some breeders exert
that the Traditional Ragdoll can not tolerate vaccinations. Others say they tend to be sensitive to vaccinations. Still others
have no problems vaccinating their cats."