History Of the Ragdoll Cat
The RAGDOLL was first recognized as a pure breed in 1965. RAGDOLLS are accepted today in all associations for competition although not all associations accept all colours at this time.
as written by Lorna Wallace, with excerpts from the book
“The Definitive Guide To Ragdolls”
by Robin Pickering, David Pollard, and Lorna Wallace published by Ragdoll World UK.
In the early ’60s a woman in Riverside, California, by the name of Ann Baker created the RAGDOLL by breeding what was believed to be a white female Persian-type cat to a Seal Point Birman. One of the male offspring from this breeding was then bred to a female Burmese. This was the foundation for the Ragdoll.
The above paragraph states what most Ragdoll breeders believed were the beginnings of the Ragdoll for many years. However, more recent investigations lead us to believe that the Ragdoll’s beginnings were somewhat different. The following is taken from the book
“The Definitive Guide To Ragdolls”
…”Ann (Baker) stated that Josephine belonged to a neighbor Mrs Pennels and was frequently seen in the area. She often produced kittens but, like Josephine, they were all wild. At some point Josephine was indeed hit by a car, and she lay at the curb side for some 2 days. Ann Baker’s neighbors worked at the local university, and it was these people who went to Josephine’s aid. They found her injured, but alive. She was taken to their place of work where she was nursed back to health. She had indeed suffered head injuries and, as Ann clearly stated, had lost one eye.
Ann went on to relate that in the due course of time, Josephine returned home (to live with the Pennels – at no time did Ann own Josephine) and resumed her reproductive traits, the kittens though were now different than those born prior to the road accident; instead of them being wild, they were quite the opposite. The kittens were very playful, loving and relaxed; they seemed to crave human attention. In fact the owners (the Pennels) regarded them as something of a nuisance and were only too happy to part with them. It seems it was at this point that Ann’s interest in the kittens was aroused further. She recognized the change in their temperament and this led her to begin acquiring some of the kittens, Buckwheat being her first. At the time Ann had been borrowing one of Josephine’s older sons to sire progeny in her Black Persian breeding programme. This son had the appearance of a Black Persian and she named him Blackie, and it was on one of her visits to borrow him that she saw Blackie’s brother. He appeared most impressive and in Ann’s words had the appearance of a Sacred Cat of Burma. Having already established the owner’s trust, she was also permitted to borrow this cat to mate with her own females. She was most taken with this son of Josephine and named him Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks. What Ann clearly states is that Blackie and Daddy Warbucks are both sons of Josephine, but with different sires. In the IRCA booklet it would appear to indicate that Blackie’s father was a ‘black cat from the East’, that appeared ‘more Persian than Burmese’. During detailed questioning, Ann confirmed that no-one had ever seen the father of Daddy Warbucks, and he was the only kitten in that particular litter of Josephine’s. This being so, makes it difficult to take the origins of the breed further.
Both in the IRCA booklet and in Ann’s own words, an earlier litter of Josephine’s had been acquired by the widow of a preacher who lived in the mountains. When she moved back to the neighborhood, Ann managed to obtain this litter also. By now Ann Baker must have owned the daughter of Blackie and Josephine, a black self female called Buckwheat. Buckwheat was described as appearing similar to a Burmese, but she was thick furred, and it is pointed out that she was not part Siamese in breeding. Apart from owning this daughter of Josephine, Ann Baker was also given another; although this time her sire was Daddy Warbucks. She called her Raggedy Ann Fugianna. Fugianna was in essence a badly marked Bicolour [see picture on page 5 of Def Guide]. She possessed a wide inverted V on her facial area, a large amount of white on the body and could be further recognized by the fact that her ears were both dark and white. Having now acquired both Buckwheat and Fugianna, and with the continued stud services of Daddy Warbucks, the foundation stock of the breed was laid, as it was from these three offspring that Ragdolls are descended.
Whether or not Ann Baker would have used any further offspring of Josephine’s we will never know, as after obtaining Fugianna, Josephine remained protective of her litter and fought with the family dog. Following one altercation between the two animals, the owner’s husband [Mr Pennels] gathered up the kittens and Josephine and had them all destroyed; the founding Queen of the Ragdoll dynasty was gone.
It must be apparent to almost every reader that much of the story is incredible, but certain facts do come to the surface. Certainly the foundation cats being Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks, Raggedy Ann Fugianna and Buckwheat were all Josephine’s offspring and in checking the pedigrees they do all appear accurate and this will be demonstrated later. Why they were all blessed with a unique disposition is open to conjecture, but it remains the opinion of the authors that it was not due to some kind of genetic engineering; perhaps quite simply the foundation stock all had the ability to be sweet natured when given a good home environment. Perhaps a more plausible explanation is that this chance combination resulted in cats that over the future years would be bred for the qualities of good temperament, large size, good coat quality and striking appearance. Within the history of the evolution of mammals stranger qualities have been selected by the unseen force of mother nature herself.
Following the tragic loss of Josephine, Ann Baker was now left with the three essential cats: Daddy Warbucks, Fugianna and Buckwheat. From the appearance of each female, she decided to split any resulting kittens into two groups; those from Fugianna would be termed ‘the Light Side’, whilst those from the black self, Buckwheat ‘the Dark Side’. Apart from dividing the kittens into two groups, Ann Baker started to formulate her own breeding policy that she believed would preserve the purity of her newly developing breed. Her plans are set out in the 1978 IRCA booklet, but to be truthful they are very hard to follow and understand.
It was Ann’s firm belief that her strict breeding policy had to be adhered to, without deviation; if it was not, then the resulting cats could not be called Ragdolls. Without any doubt Ann Baker’s breeding programme is founded on the most unusual thinking, even going so far as to use an example of a woman giving birth to one armed children to various fathers and then isolating them on various islands – all to prove the theory behind her thinking! Perhaps more credibility might have been offered if a more conventional method of scientific rationale had been used to support her hypothesis.
In more simplistic terms, the IRCA booklet describes the breeding programme as follows.
A new franchisee was sold a cross of Fugianna and Tiki; they then had to line breed for seven generations, never using any of the resulting male offspring for breeding purposes, only the male purchased originally. After reaching the seventh generation they then had to use another direct son of Josephine’s at which point they could breed ‘authentic’ Ragdolls.
Despite all these propositions and the complexities of the breeding programme, Ann Baker embarked upon her own course to produce the Raggedy Ann Ragdolls.
THE RAGDOLLS ARRIVE
With her foundation stock of one male and two females, Ann Baker now embarked on her breeding programme that would eventually see the Ragdoll as a breed, establish itself world-wide.
She mated Daddy Warbucks to his half sisters, Fugianna and Buckwheat, and allocated the resulting offspring into the two groups as described.
Again the reader must bear in mind that the research has been made only into the Ragdolls which founded the original British lines that were exported by Denny and Laura Dayton. For overseas readers it will be just as easy to trace your Ragdolls using the methods described later in the book.
The very first Ragdolls were born to Daddy Warbucks and Buckwheat, when they produced a litter of four kittens and all with a distinct difference. Of the four kittens, there were two colourpointed kittens and two black self kittens; though all possessed similar physical type. The differences were just as distinct between each pair. One of the self kittens had white mittens, similar to that of its father, Daddy Warbucks; whilst the sibling resembled its mother, Buckwheat. The two kittens were named Gueber and Mitts, and both were destined to become the parents of kittens that would be registered as Experimental Persians, though in the future Ann Baker decided to call these cats, Ragdolls Tu. Although they lacked the distinctive pattern of the Ragdoll, they were in essence the same; they differed only in the absence of a recessive colourpointed gene.
To return to the other kittens in this litter, these were both Colourpointed; the male was almost identical to his father, Daddy Warbucks, though he lacked his white nose blaze. These two kittens were a male Seal Mitted, named Raggedy Ann Kyoto, and a female Chocolate Colourpoint named Raggedy Ann Tiki. They were born in the summer of 1965 and Ann Baker registered both Kyoto and Tiki as Ragdolls, the Ragdolls had at last arrived.
THE DARK SIDE
The birth of Kyoto and Tiki heralded the beginning of what Ann Baker was to term the ‘Dark Side’, and all kittens directly descended from Tiki were to be placed in this category. Once these two sibling parents had matured, they too were mated together, just as their half sibling parents had been at their conception. What may strike the reader as strange is that the writers feel that if the Ragdolls were to be line bred according to Ann Baker’s own breeding policy, then perhaps Tiki would have been mated back to Daddy Warbucks and likewise any female offspring that they produced.
However, this was not the case and Kyoto and Tiki produced their offspring and among the kittens were Raggedy Ann Kookie, Seal Colourpointed male, Raggedy Ann Kookie Tu, a Seal Mitted male, Raggedy Ann Bambi and Toy sue, both Seal Mitted females and finally Raggedy Ann Toy Ling, a seal Colourpointed female. In turn these offspring of Kyoto and Tiki grew up and were also incorporated into the breeding programme.
Kookie Tu was mated back to his mother, Tiki, which in turn produced Raggedy Ann Heidi, a female Seal Colourpointed. Kookie, meanwhile was also mated to:
Heidi, his niece and half sister, producing a Seal Colourpointed male, Raggedy Ann Buddy [Denny & Laura’s first stud boy].
Toy Sue, his full sister, producing a Seal Mitted male, Raggedy Ann Robin.
Bambi, his full sister, producing a Seal Mitted female, Melonie of Blossom-Time.
Tiki, his mother, producing a Seal Colourpointed female, Orphan Annie of Blossom-Time.
All these Ragdolls had been produced directly from Tiki, none as yet being mated to a descendant of Fugianna. The Ragdolls forming the ‘Dark Side’ had now been bred, but also two females that were to be part of the Blossom-Time line.
THE LIGHT SIDE
Apart from Daddy Warbucks and Fugianna, the only other cat from the ‘Light Side’ parents that would ultimately become an ancestor of the early British Ragdolls, was a Seal Bicolour female, Raggedy Ann B’wana; she herself being the offspring of Warbucks and Fugianna.
Fugianna did produce other offspring, she was mated to different sires which included:
Kookie Tu, a sire of a male Seal Bicolour (Mid High White) Raggedy Ann Joshua.
Kyoto, sire of a male Seal Bicolour (Mid high White) Raggedy Ann Woo Wong.
Kookie, sire of a male Seal Mitted, Raggedy Ann Pancho Villa.
Robin, sire of a female Seal Mitted, Raggedy Ann Rosie.
With this number of Ragdolls now bred, the breed itself was well on the way to becoming firmly established.
THE BLOSSOM TIMES BLOOM
It was in 1969 that Laura and Denny Dayton entered into the story of the Ragdolls. Laura had seen a newspaper advertisement for the Ragdolls and their curiosity led them to the home of Ann Baker. They were enchanted by these huge cats with such a loveable nature and in agreement with each other they bought a pair. The young male was a delight but the female just did not seem to settle and Laura felt it was in the cats and their own interests to return her and obtain a replacement.
Their first pair was Raggedy Ann Buddy, a Seal Colourpointed male and Raggedy Ann Rosie, a Seal Mitted female. With the arrival of Rose and Bud the idea germinated that the cattery would be called Blossom-Time and it was Laura’s wish that the future Ragdolls they bred would be named after plants, flowers, etc following a theme of things that would flourish and grow.
At the time of purchase they had never signed any further agreements with Ann Baker and they in turn came to sell a pair of Blossom-Time Ragdolls they duly informed her of the sale as a courtesy. It came as a complete surprise when Ann Baker attempted to implement a franchise agreement and demanded more money. Relationships continued to deteriorate and became even more involved with attorneys and court appearances until another Ragdoll addict stepped in to assist. In Brigadier General Robert Truby the Daytons found a true ally who stayed with them right through the whole difficult period and proved to be a true benefactor to the breed throughout his life. Without his friendship and support Denny wondered if they would have ever continued with the breed. Despite claims to the contrary, Ann Baker never did manage to bring a law suit against Laura and Denny, in fact it was Ann who was subjected to a restraint order to prevent further bad propaganda against the Daytons.
Apart from the obvious upset that these altercations caused, Laura and Denny continued to progress. By chance, other would-be breeders fell by the wayside, unable to enjoy their hobby as they were subjected to a similar pattern of correspondence from Ann Baker. It was the Ragdolls good fortune that these cats were bought by the Daytons and added to the Blossom-Time programme, individuals such as Joshua, Pecos Bill, Lolita, Miss Chef and Little Orphan Annie all arrived in this manner.
Denny was also an excellent record keeper and began charting the accurate pedigrees of all the Ragdolls. Today it has grown into an International Genetic Chart that is updated annually [by kind courtesy of Charlie Myers], it is a huge task and one which most would have never taken on. Had Denny not begun this work it is reasonable to assume that the present day pedigrees would have never been known.”>>
“I hope the above extract from The Definitive Guide to Ragdolls answers some of your questions. On page 11 of the book there is a copy of Raggedy Ann Rosie Cat’s 4 generation ACFA pedigree signed by Ann Baker [kindly lent to us by Denny and Laura]. Rosie’s sire is Raggedy Ann Robin whose date of birth is given as 27 May 1967 and her dam Raggedy Ann Fugianna’s date of birth is 5 May 1965. Fugianna’s sire and dam are Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks listed as a brown & white Ragdoll and Josephine detailed as a White Persian. When we asked Ann on the video whether Josephine was a Persian cat, she described her ‘as looking like an Angora, but she wasn’t’. Raggedy Ann Robin’s sire is given as Raggedy Ann Kookie, a brown and white Ragdoll and his dam is Raggedy Ann Toy Sue, a brown and white Ragdoll.
As far as Ann made us aware during our interview – the ‘original’ Ragdolls only stemmed from Daddy Warbucks, Buckwheat and Fugianna.”
Secretary of The British Ragdoll Cat Club