The origins and development of the Ragdoll breed is difficult to establish and is somewhat shrouded in myths. Nonetheless, there are certain things that we do know for sure.
The Ragdolls were originated by Ann Baker (pictured on the right), a breeder in Riverside, California. It was in early 1960 that the breed was created. It is believed that a white Persian-Angora like cat named Josephine (pictured below, on the left) – with outcrossings to Birman-like and Burmese-like cats started it all!
Back then, Ann Baker advertised widely and mailed out literature promoting the breed to cat-lovers nationwide. Early publicity spread like wild fire and the breed quickly became an object of controversy.
A Young Ann Baker
Baker’s breeding program consisted of a handful of breeders contracted under her. She was paid a royalty fee for every kitten sold.
As time went on, Ann Baker’s statements and claims about the breed became strange, supernatural – and – very hard to believe. She publicized statements outlining how Ragdoll cats have human genes in them, that they are immune to pain & that they represent a link between us and space aliens.
The breeders once loyal to her were now having doubts about how to develop the breed without losing the integrity that these wonderful cats deserve. Because of this, several breeders broke off from Ann Baker and continued breeding Ragdolls for what they are – highly affectionate companions – with a lot of love to share with humans.
Denny Dayton (pictured on the right) was an instrumental figure in the history & development of the breed. After he broke away from Ann Baker, he fought hard to make the breed legitimate and acceptable by cat fanciers’ standards. Dayton succeeded and in 1967, the Ragdoll breed was first recognized in the United States.
Dayton is the originator of RFCI (Ragdoll Fanciers Club International) the most reputable and highly respected Ragdoll cat registry in the world. Dayton also worked very hard to get the breed recognized by TICA.
Ann Baker went on with her breeding program but her stand, relative to the breed’s growth and acceptance, was that of anger and bitterness.
In 1971, Baker created her own cat registry & association known as IRCA (International Ragdoll Cat Association). Since then, she has been in bitter debate about how only her Ragdolls are legitimate and the rest are fake.
In December 1975 Ann Baker had the name “Ragdoll” patented for the first time. The patent is valid until the year 2005, and allows only IRCA breeders to use the name.
The Daytons and the other breeders, however, did not feel that the restrictions placed upon the use of the name applied to them because they had purchased their cats prior to the time of the patent.
Ann Baker has since passed away. She will be remembered for her persistent battle to promote the breed – although many of the methods she used in doing so remain questionable. But Baker’s most remarkable achievement was giving us the Ragdoll breed. There is no debate about that anywhere!
Today there are over 500 breeders worldwide and the Ragdoll breed stands on solid ground, despite its controversial early years and development.