The Ragdoll is a large, muscular pointed cat, which has a semi-long soft, non-matting and low shedding, silky coat and beautiful blue eyes. Ragdolls are best known for their docile and placid temperament and affectionate nature. The name “Ragdoll” is derived from the breed’s tendencies to “go limp” when they are picked up. The breed was developed in the 1960’s by a controversial breeder by the name of Ann Baker (an established Persian breeder), who resided in Riverside, California.
The breed began with a feral, longhaired white cat of Persian/Angora type, by the name of Josephine, who had produced several litters of typical cats which were sired by several unknown male Birman-like or Burmese-like cats. One day, the pregnant Josephine was injured by a car and was taken to the veterinary hospital at the University of California. Ann believed that Josephine was involved in a secret government genetic experiment during her treatment at the lab and claimed that it had made Josephine docile, relaxed when being picked up and immune to pain. After Josephine had recovered, the kittens she produced had very easy going temperaments. After a subsequent litter produced more of the same types of kittens, Ann had purchased several kittens from the owner, Mrs. Pennells, who had lived behind Ann, and set out to create what is now known today as the Ragdoll breed. Ragdolls have been selectively bred over many years for keeping the desirable traits, such as large size, gentle, docile temperaments, and the tendency to go limp when picked up, as well has having their striking pointed coloration.
Ann then bred Josephine to two of her own sons by different fathers, a male Burmese-type cat, Blackie, and his half-brother, a Birman-like male she named “Daddy Warbucks”. Josephine was bred back to Daddy Warbucks and a female, Fugianna, was produced. Fugianna was the foundation cat for what Ann called the “light side” of her breeding program (bicolors). Female Buckwheat was the result of the mating of Josephine and Blackie, which was the foundation cat for the “dark side” (mitted and colorpoints) of Ann’s breeding program. Fugianna and Buckwheat were bred to Daddy Warbucks to produce the first Ragdolls.
Ann spurned traditional cat breeding associations. She trademarked the name “Ragdoll” and set up her own registry, the International Ragdoll Cat Association (“IRCA”) and enforced stringent standards on anyone who wanted to breed or sell cats under that name, as she wanted to control the breed.
Denny and Laura Dayton were the first breeders to purchase some of Ann’s Ragdolls. The Daytons kept very good track of the early Ragdoll records, and worked hard on creating a pedigree system. The Daytons, wanting to advance the breed and gain mainstream recognition, eventually developed the Ragdoll standard, which is currently accepted by major cat registries. Ann was very angry with the Daytons for taking over her breed and stealing her fame. Ann tried her best to fight the Daytons, but in the end lost the fight. The Daytons are responsible for the Ragdoll’s big break into America and soon thereafter into England. The Dayton’s cattery name was called Blossom-Time. The Blossom-Time name is in all traditional Ragdoll pedigrees.