The beginning of the Ragdoll breed is clouded in mystery. The Ragdoll breed was developed by Ann Baker in Riverside, CA. It originated in 1964 with the first kittens being named as Ragdolls in 1965.
Conversations with Denny Dayton and correspondence from Ann Baker to Blanche Herman seem to indicate that Ann began trying to develop the Ragdoll breed sometime in 1963. Ann borrowed from her neighbors, the Pennels, a cat that had the appearance of the Sacred Cat of Burma. She bred this cat to Josephine who was a white angora cat and that produced Daddy Warbucks. Ann also acquired Josephine’s daugher, Buckwheat, from the Pennels. Ann mated Daddy Warbucks to Josephine and produced Fugianna. Keep in mind that NONE of these were Ragdolls at the time, but they became the foundation cats in creating the Ragdoll breed. It is from these four cats – Josephine, Daddy Warbucks, Fugianna, and Buckwheat – that Ragdolls are descended. Of these four, only Daddy Warbucks and Fugianna were registered as Ragdolls in the National Cat Fanciers Association (NCFA) in 1966.
The first cat association to recognize the Ragdoll as a breed was the NCFA and Ann Baker registered her first four Ragdolls on December 30, 1966.
- Daddy Warbucks: Registration Number 66-0577-6
- He is the first cat registered as a Ragdoll!
- Tiki: 66-0578-6
- Kyoto: 66-0579-6
- Fugianna: 66-0580-6
Ann Baker was listed as both breeder and owner of Tiki and Kyoto. Daddy Warbucks and Fugianna were registered with Merle Pennel listed as their breeder and Ann Baker as their owner.
Over the years, the offspring of Ann’s breedings would become known for good temperament, large size, non-matting coat and striking appearance. Josephine is not mentioned beyond the very earliest days, but rather it was her offspring who played the primary role in continuing the Ragdoll breed.
At the beginning of the breed, it was of utmost importance to keep inbreeding to a minimum to expand the gene pool. Ann established what she referred to as a “light side” and a “dark side”. It is important to note that this designation was not related to color of the cats at all. Ann believed that better litters were achieved when employing the light side/dark side theory, and she indicated that Fugianna was the light side and Buckwheat was the dark side. Ann mated Daddy Warbucks to Buckwheat, and they produced a litter of four kittens in the summer of 1965- two solid-colored kittens and two pointed ones. Ann named the two solids Gueber & Mitts. The two pointed kittens were a seal mitted male named Kyoto, and a seal colorpoint named Tiki. Kyoto, Tiki, Daddy Warbucks and Fugianna were the first cats Ann registered as Ragdolls on December 30, 1966. The two solids were never registered as Ragdolls.
From 1965-1969, Ann appeared to build up and increase her breeding stock. The first record of Ragdolls being sold is in early 1969 when Denny and Laura Dayton bought a breeding pair of Ragdolls from Ann Baker. They named the cats Buddy and Rosie.
It is from these small beginnings by the Daytons that most of our current Ragdolls trace their ancestry. During the years 1969-1973, the Daytons tried very hard to work with Ann to help promote the Ragdoll breed, but Ann wanted to retain total control. (In this author’s opinion, Ann was afraid of losing control of what she saw as her gold mine and was afraid that she would be in danger of losing that control if it grew too fast.)
In an attempt to retain control over the growing number of owners and breeders, Ann created the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) in 1971 and and it was registered as a business in September of that year. In order to generate a steady flow of money, Ann also began franchising catteries that purchased breeding Ragdolls from her. Along this line, Ann was granted a patent by the United States Patent Office on December 19, 1975, (Patent 1026916) and registered with the state of California (#53044) April 16, 1975.
Many of the early owners and breeders rebelled against being franchised and wanted no part of such an arrangement. The Daytons had bought their Ragdolls prior to this time and refused to go along with this new franchise concept. As a result of Ann’s actions, several owners decided that they no longer wanted to be involved with Ann and began to break away from her.
– written by Wain Pearce