In the early '60s a woman in Riverside, California, by the name of Ann Baker created the ragdoll. In all the years of the Cat Fancy there has never been a Breed more shrouded in controversial mystery than the ragdoll.
For nearly 40 years rumors abounded that the ragdoll was the product of the breeding of several already established breeds. However, more recent Intensive investigations and pedigree examinations have confirmed that the ragdolls beginnings were somewhat different. The following is taken from the book The Definitive Guide to ragdolls by Lorna Wallace, Robin Pickering and David Pollard, published by Ragdoll World UK.
At the time Ann had been borrowing one of Josephine's older sons to sire progeny in her Black Persian breeding program. This son had the appearance of a Black/Brown Persian and she named him Blackie, and it was 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 who were unknown and undocumented. 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.
The ragdoll was first recognized as a pure breed in 1965 by NCFA (now defunct). Following that achievement Ann did nothing to further the ragdoll in the fancy.
Fortunately, a new breeder husband and wife team, Denny and Laura Dayton, bought a pair from Ann and realized the breed had to be shown and accepted by the various associations in the Cat Fancy along with other breeders who had also purchased breeding pairs from Ann. With the Dayton's spearheading the effort, ragdolls began a very long and arduous journey into the show halls of America and would soon thereafter find their way to Europe where England was waiting with open arms to welcome this wonderful breed, ragdolls are accepted today in all associations for registration; however, some Associations still do not allow ragdolls in certain patterns to compete in their shows.
In Denny’s words:
November 1969 was our first introduction to the ragdolls. And from that time on, we were destined to become breeders of these magnificent felines. A pair was acquired from Ann Baker and the male was named Buddy (Bud) and the female was Rosie (Rose). We appropriately penned the cattery name Blossom-Time, carrying various names of flowers, herbs or living plants for all subsequent breeders. It served us well.
The breed has had many “ups and downs” in pursuit of being accepted in the various associations. The learning curve as novice breeders seemed almost insurmountable to gain any recognition however, with perseverance and the growing number of breeders, slowly but surely, attitudes about the ragdolls did change. The biggest obstacle was the bias from different associations regarding some of the claims by Baker, who did not believe in the show circuits. There were questions to be answered about the origination of the breed, which was difficult to trace, as Baker kept everything in her head.
The obvious first step was to document whatever was furnished to a genetic chart. The “handmade” chart we created started to grow and grow as new breeders surfaced. As it became almost unmanageable, Charlie Meyers consented to bring it all up to date on the computer. As a result, his authoritative manual is detailed to the extent that it has the distinction of being able to trace any legitimate ragdoll back to the founding stock, which is available worldwide.
We felt that the ragdoll owners, however few there were at the time, needed to band together. As a result of a CFF show in Ohio, 1975, ten pet owners, Blanche Herman, a breeder and me participated. The final outcome was we were granted championship status in all patterns, the first active association to do so. With this great excitement, generated by CFF, we immediately founded the Ragdoll Club in Ohio in 1975.
The beauty of the ragdolls started to roll and “snowballed” in some cases, as there was a high demand for kittens. Even with this success, there were times of financial stress due to litigation with Baker over the authenticity of the cats. Much credit goes to Bob Trubey, who was a true “Angel” watching over the development of the breed, lending support in different times of need.
Certainly, no one person has been responsible for the popularity of the breed, but homage must be paid to all that has spent so much time and money, bonding together to help within the confines of the Ragdoll Club, to be in a high esteem in the Cat Fancy today.
Laura and I felt that it was time for others to carry on. We hope that with our limited knowledge of the breed, others will keep breeding to the high standards of the breed. Consequently, the bulk of our breed stock was sold in England. Thus, the first ragdolls were introduced in the United Kingdom.
With humble thanks to the Dayton's and many other breeders who have diligently perused and continue to strive for acceptance of the ragdoll. To all who will continue to preserve excellence, to the new breeders who follow in the footsteps of those who believed so passionately in the ragdoll and who paved the way, we dedicate this web site.