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History of the Ragdoll
To read the recorded history of the Ragdoll would have you somewhat bewildered and you would find it full of contradictions. Some parts of it have been proven impossible, but the following outlines what we do know.
A woman called Ann Baker established the Ragdoll Cat in California in the 1960's and the founding cat was a non-pedigree white Angora looking cat named Josephine. Ann Baker was a breeder of Persians, before she became involved with the Ragdoll. Josephine was a neighbour's cat who belonged to Mrs Pennels, a white Angora looking cat and who like many of the cats in the area, used to breed at will and produce many feral kittens.
At some stage Josephine was hit by a car and laid by the roadside for several days, until a neighbour who worked at a local university picked her up and took her to their place of work and nursed her back to health. Josephine had suffered some head injuries and had lost an eye. She eventually recovered and on her return home Josephine continued her usual reproductive traits.
Her next litter of kittens seemed to be different in some way and instead of running away when approached seemed to enjoy human companionship, this soon aroused Ann's curiosity and she asked Mrs Pennels for one of the kittens. This was Buckwheat, a black female who looked similar to a Burmese. Ann was later given another kitten from Josephine. A Bi-Colour, she called her Fugianna. The father of Fugianna was a cat Ann had called Daddy Warbucks who had the "appearance" of the Birman, who was also an earlier son of Josephine's. So now Ann has three more cats all being the off spring of Josephine.
Sometime while Josephine was guarding her next litter from the Pennels dog, Josephine and the dog had an altercation and with all the commotion going on, Mr Pennels said "Enough" then gathered up Josephine and her kittens and had them all destroyed.
Ann had applied for the breeding prefix of Raggedy Ann, and then proceeded to breed the Ragdoll Cat. Ann wanted to breed the perfect indoor companion with outstanding temperament and started to promote the breed with fliers and advertisements around the area and soon started to get some attention from the media. When her breed was well established, Ann did something that no other breed has done and that was to Trademark the Ragdoll name. She also started a registry called the International Ragdoll Cat Association. (IRCA) which was not associated with any other cat association.
Ann had very strict breeding policies, which other breeders had to follow in order to get their kittens registered as "real" Ragdolls. With Royalty fees and franchising restrictions. These policies were getting very hard for other breeders to live with, especially with some of the claims Ann was starting to make about the cat in her promotions. The situation became very tense and many gave up and quit.
A group of breeders eventually got tired of the arrangements and decided to split from IRCA and to try and the Ragdoll accepted by the major Cat Fancy Associations. The most instrumental figures being Laura and Denny Drayton, who luckily had obtained their Ragdolls before Ann's breeding policies had time to be implemented, and were technically free to follow their own breeding program.
In 1981 Ragdolls were first exported overseas. In 1991 the first Ragdolls were imported into Australia, and in 1995 Ragdolls were imported into New Zealand.
Ann Baker has since passed away, feeling very betrayed and bitter for her last years. But will long be remembered for this wonderful legacy she has left us. The Ragdoll trademark and IRCA remained active after her death, and today there are still IRCA and non IRCA ragdolls on the market. IRCA is still not associated with any of the major cat fancy organizations and because the IRCA breeders are not allowed to register with any other cat associations, the number of breeders is small and continues to decline. RFCI is still functional.
In New Zealand, Ragaffairo Ragdolls are foundation members of the NZ Ragdoll Breeders' Alliance (NZ-RBA).
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