What is a Ragdoll?  




A Ragdoll is a breed of cat that began in the 1960's in Riverside California, with the help of a woman named Ann Baker.  Ann recognized something very special about her neighbors cats, and decided to further them and "create" her own breed the IRCA Ragdoll.  


Josephine was a white Angora-type feral cat, that Ms. Bakers neighbors fed and cared for.   Josephine was a free roaming cat, so the sires to her offspring are unknown.   But there was something very special in Josephine's kittens that had a 'Magic' to it.  They were extremely affectionate, went limp when held, where very large cats that even though were long-haired, did not have matts.  Ms. Baker, noticed these endearing qualities and took some of her kittens and began a breeding program.  One of the first was named Daddy Warbucks, he was the seal colorpoint with white mittens, that Ann said resembled the 'Sacred Cat of Burma' but he also had a white diamond blaze on his forhead, and an endearing white tail tip.   It was Daddy Warbucks "look" that she shaped the Ragdoll to be the breed we have today.


Founder of the Ragdoll Breed, the late Ann Baker


Ms. Baker was a bit eccentric and did not believe in the organizations that registered and promoted cats in the Cat Fancy, so she began her own organization called IRCA (International Ragdoll Cat Association), that only registered the cats bred in the programs under Ms. Baker's organization.  After the breed had begun a young couple, Mr.  and Mrs. Denny Dayton along with a handful of other breeders, recognized the wonderful qualities in Ms. Bakers' Ragdolls, but realized that the breed would not go very far without being introduced in to the traditional cat fancy, so they broke away from Ms. Baker and began breeding their Ragdolls and campaigning to get them accepted into the registering bodies, that today we know as TICA, ACFA, CFF, and CFA.  And today the Ragdoll is accepted for registration and championship status in all the organizations, including CFA, which as of May 2000 accepted our van and  bicolor pattern into Championship status.



So for the past 40 years we have had two factions of Ragdoll breeders.  The ones that worked with Ann Baker through the 80's and early 90's, that have bred the IRCA Ragdoll and the ones that descended from the Daytons having broke away from Ann in the late 70's, these were the first Ragdolls registered in the traditional organizations of TICA, CFA, ACFA, CFF etc, and are considered "traditional" Ragdolls.  While the others have filtered into the Ragdoll genepool through outcrossing with traditional Ragdolls, or have become registered Ragamuffins (more on this below).  It has caused much confusion, but once the history is explained, it can be understood that the two factions are really quite similar in what they want in their cats, and share some of the same ancestry, but also have some differing backgrounds.


In 1993 a large group of IRCA Ragdoll breeders decided to break away from Ann Baker's organization as that Ann was getting older, and had poor health.   So they feared that if something happened to Ann, the IRCA organizaiton would be gone.  But because they had contracts stating that they could not call their cats Ragdolls, if they no longer belonged to Ms. Baker's organization, they decided to rename their cats to Ragamuffins.  This caused quite a stir in the Ragdoll community at first.  The Ragamuffins have the same "look" and special qualities that traditional Ragdolls have, they also come in the same colorpoint colors and patterns that the Ragdolls do.   And with the name Ragamuffin, so close to that of the Ragdoll, there was at first quite a lot of confusion between the breeds.  But there are some important differences, Ragamuffins come in several other colors and patterns that are not in the Ragdoll standard, and they are focusing on a different head type, and for several years have bred within a different genepool than traditional Ragdolls, as well as they are campaigning the showhalls to be recognized as their own breed.    So if we can get past some of the initial confusion, and see that these are indeed destined to be two separate breeds...we can appreciate both for what is truly special about them.



What really matters to most of us, is that by definition a Ragdoll is a large, floppy, loving cat with the special 'magic' that the original cats had.  It is also important that they are healthy and raised in a loving environment when they are babies.  It is also important that they are accepted and registered and showable in all of the cat registering bodies and taken seriously by the cat fancy with a history and track record of being a true and healthy breed.


seamus16mn.jpg (95679 bytes) Ragdolls come in several colorpoint colors, and five basic patterns.  The colors include Seal, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Red, Cream, Tortie, and Blue/Cream.  The patterns are colorpoint, mitted, bicolor, van and lynx.  The lynx pattern can include colorpoint, mitted, van or bicolor and when added to the Tortie colors can include a Torbie cat.  Currently, the Ragdoll standard does not include any of the solid /self colored, or mink although there are some non standard Ragdolls in the genepool that are being bred and registered through TICA.  There is on-going dispute within the Ragdoll Community of breeders over where some of these cats belong because of the common ancestory, yet non standard patterns/colors.  These solids and minks do share the same heritage and ancestory as the standard Ragdoll, and even more importantly have the same physical type and Ragdoll qualities, so many breeders are working with them to try and have them recognized in the Ragdoll standard.  If you have more questions about the Solid Ragdoll, and the breeders who work with them please visit www.solidragdolls.com



All standard Ragdolls  have blue eyes, the more navy blue the better.  They have a thick, plush coat, that is semi-long and has a silky smooth feel.   It should never matt heavily or have a persiany appearance.  Their head should have good uniformity and have a modified wedge shape.  The face should not be flat or wide  or domed, in resemblance of a Persian type.  They have a large frame, with the males growing to 15-20 pounds by 3 years of age, and the females to a 8-12 pound average at maturity.  They should have a long appearance, never   cobby.  But the most endearing and special quality with a Ragdoll is its wonderfull nature and personality.  They constantly purr and love to be in your company.  They follow you around like a little puppy, and thrive on all the love and attention they get.  They are an easy going cat, with a good nature with gentle children and other accepting pets.  Of course they are all still individuals....with slight variations in their nature, but most Ragdolls will love their "people" when treated with love and respect.

flatgracey.jpg (81207 bytes) If you have other questions concerning Ragdolls or obtaining a Ragdoll kitten,   please contact me by email jilahil@essex1.com .   We are located in Dixon, Illinois which is in the Northwest corner of Illinois.   About 2 hours west of Chicago, and one hour northeast of the Quad Cities in Iowa.