The Ragdoll cat breed was established in the early 1960s by a woman in Riverside, California named Ann Baker. The first Ragdoll cat was a Persian mix that was struck by an automobile named Josephine. Josephine is believed to have belonged to one of Ann Baker’s neighbors. Josephine had a litter of kittens and Ann Baker noticed these kittens were larger and seemed friendlier than other cats. On one account, Ann Baker attributed the characteristics to the car accident Josephine was involved in. Ann Baker was known to make many claims regarding the origins or her cats, some of which are more suited for the pages of science fiction stories.
Josephine’s offspring inspired Ann Baker to start breeding Ragdoll cats. She acquired one of Josephine’s kittens, a female named Buckwheat, and quickly registered her with the National Cat Fanciers Association (NCFA) in 1963. Ann Baker began breeding Buckwheat with a Birman cat to produce a seal point kitten with white feet named Daddy Warbucks. Daddy Warbucks is attributed with being the father of the Ragdoll cat breed.
Ann Baker began breeding Ragdolls from Daddy Warbucks and established her own cat registry in 1971 called the International Ragdoll Cat Association. Ann Baker went on to trademark the name “Radgoll” and required anyone breeding the cats to pay royalties for the use of the name. It was at this point Ann Baker seemed to go off the deep end and began telling tall tales regarding the origins of her cat breed. She stated there are five differences between Ragdolls and other cats.
When describing her cats she stated that (1) Ragdoll cats are much larger than other cats, (2) are impervious to pain, (3) do not have self-preservation instincts, (4) have non-matting fur, and (5) go characteristically limp when held. On some accounts Ann Baker claimed the characteristic Ragdoll traits were the result of Josephine being struck by a car. On other accounts, she claimed her cats were the result of genetic manipulation performed by the government. She also made claims that the cats were brought to her by aliens. Baker enjoyed being the center of attention and at one point she claimed that a rival cat breeder kidnapped and slaughtered a litter of her kittens. She went so far as to draw up posters with photographs of dead kittens to support her claims.
Ann Bakers antics created dissent among many Ragdoll breeders who went on to form their own cat association. These breeders founded the Ragdoll Fanciers’ Club International (RFCI) and started registering Ragdoll cats. The RFCI was responsible for having the Ragdoll cat breed recognized by the National Cat Fanciers Association in 1972. Today Ragdoll cats are recognized as a pedigreed breed by every major cat association. Their usual origins along with the antics of the breed’s founder have not prevented the Ragdoll cat from becoming one of the most popular breeds available today.
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