The Ragdoll is a breed whose origins are surrounded by controversy and tall tales. According to various stories, the foundation cat, Josephine, produced unremarkable kittens until she was struck by a car in the early 1960s. After her recovery, all of her subsequent litters produced kittens that displayed Ragdoll characteristics: large size, non-matting fur, the tendency to relax in a person's arms like a child's rag doll (hence the name), and serene dispositions. Also rumored was the kittens' insensitivity to pain (which, according to breeders, is not true). Another story holds that Josephine was taken to a laboratory after her car accident, where she was genetically altered as part of a secret government experiment, resulting in genetic changes. While these are amusing stories, no scientific evidence exists to support any of these claims, and, in fact, geneticists say that this type of genetic alteration did not exist in the 1960s.
Other breeders claim that Josephine was bred to a seal Birman male who in turn was bred to a sable Burmese female. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of this, either. The Ragdoll's white spotting gene is definitely not the same as in the Birman breed, according to TICA's genetics committee chairperson, Dr. Solveig Pflueger, M.D., Ph.D.
The Ragdolls of America Group (a group formed to gain acceptance for the Ragdoll in the Cat Fanciers' Association) says that Josephine was a feral white Turkish Angora-type cat that resided on the property of a Mrs. Pennels in Riverside, California. After her car accident, Josephine mated with a feral black and white mitted long haired tom and produced a solid black male kitten named Daddy Warbucks and a seal pointed bicolor female named Fugianna. Another litter followed, sired by a solid brown long haired tom. This tryst produced a seal point female named Tiki and a black- and white-mitted male named Buckwheat. The breed's founder, the late Ann Baker, came into possession of these cats, and all subsequent generations can be traced back to them. After years of selective breeding, the Ragdoll developed into the breed we know today. This seems to be the most credible story for the breed's creation; however, this lineage cannot be confirmed with certainty, since the trysts between these feral cats were not documented.
Ann Baker created her own registry for Ragdolls in 1971 called the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA). She also franchised and trademarked the Ragdoll name. Although all contemporary Ragdolls are descendants from Baker's original stock, several factions of breeders exist and not all are members of IRCA. The breeders who wanted to gain recognition for the Ragdoll with the traditional registries split from Baker's group and formed the Ragdoll Fanciers' Club. These breeders, among others, advanced non-IRCA Ragdolls to Championship status with every association except the CFA, who belatedly accepted the Ragdoll for registration in February, 1993. The CFA currently accepts the Ragdoll in the Miscellaneous class. This means the cats can be registered and exhibited but cannot compete for Championship.
The RagaMuffin is the newest development on the Ragdoll scene. The RagaMuffin is similar, but not identical, in conformation and temperament to the Ragdoll. While the Ragdoll is accepted in only four colors and three patterns, the RagaMuffin also comes in red point, lynx point, and tortie point, as well as the spectrum of Persian colors and patterns, plus mitted and mitted with blaze. Breeders say that the RagaMuffin is not a new breed. Although all Ragdolls are descendants from the original Ragdoll lines that Ann Baker developed, RagaMuffin breeders split from IRCA much more recently than the RFC breeders, in 1993, in fact. To avoid breaking their contracts with Baker and violating Baker's trademark on the Ragdoll name, they renamed their breed the RagaMuffin. Currently, the RagaMuffin is only accepted for Championship
in the recently formed UFO, although they are accepted for registration in ACFA.
Copyright © 1998 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAT BREEDS by J. Anne Helgren.