A Brief Overview of Ragdoll History

Where did Ragdolls come from? The common myth is the Ragdoll is bred from a Birman. Not True!

Cailfornia 1963.

Josephine was a white Angora looking cat, who belonged to a Mrs Pennels (who was one of Ann Bakers neighbours,) and was constantly in kitten, breeding at will and producing many litters of not so friendly kittens. At some point Josephine was hit by a car, and lay at the side of the road for some 2 days. Ann Baker’s neighbours worked at the local University, and it was these people who went to Josephine’s aid. They found her injured, but alive. She was taken to their place of work where she was nursed back to health. She had indeed suffered some head injuries and lost one eye. In due course Josephine returned home and continued her reproductive traits, the kittens were now different than those prior to the road accident, instead of them being wild, these were quite the opposite. The kittens were playful, loving, relaxed, and seemed to crave human attention. In fact the owner seemed to regard them as a nuisance and was only too happy to part with them. It seems at this point that Ann Baker’s interest in the kittens was aroused further. She recognised the change in their temperament and this led her to acquiring some of the kittens, Buckwheat being the first. At the same 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 on one of her visits to borrow him that she saw Blackies brother. He was most impressive and in Ann’s words had the appearance of the Sacred Cat of Burma, (the Birman breed). Having already the trust of the owner, she was also permitted to borrow this cat to mate with her own females. This cat she called Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks. By now she owned the daughter of Blackie and Josephine, a black solid called Buckwheat who is described as appearing similar to a Burmese, but was thick furred. Apart from owning this daughter, she was given another, although this time her sire was Daddy Warbucks. And was in essence a badly marked Bi-colour. These three offspring of Josephines’s were the foundation stock that the Ragdolls are descended. Whether or not Ann Baker would have used any further offspring of Josephine’s we will never know, as after obtaining Fugianna, Josephine suddenly became very protective of her new litter and started fighting with the family dog. Following one altercation between the two animals, Mr Pennels said enough and gathered up the kittens and Josephine and had them all destroyed; the founding Queen of the Ragdoll Dynasty was gone. It must be apparent to almost every reader that much of this story is incredible, but certain facts do come to the surface. Certainly the foundation cats being Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks, Raggedy Ann Fugianna and Buckwheat were all Josephine’s offspring and in checking the pedigrees they all do appear accurate.


When Ann Baker described a Birman cat in the beginning of the breed it was to Daddy Warbucks she was referring. She made the comparison based only on phenotype, he was after all the first mitted. There has never been a Birman in the breed, the mitted’s similar pattern was entirely due to the dominant mitted gene which is not found in the Birman breed. In fact had there been a Birman in the breed then it’s presence would have caused havoc in the Ragdolls patterns, with the recessive gloving gene appearing with increased frequency as the breed progressed.

All information in this article from: "The Definitive Guide to Ragdolls" by Lorna Wallace, Robin Pickering and David Pollard. 1995

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