History & Development of the Ragdoll Breed

Ragdoll History – Early Years

In the early years, Ann believed it was important to keep inbreeding to a minimum while still advancing the gene pool. Therefore, a “light side” and a “dark side” was established because Ann felt that a high percentage of better litters was achieved when this method was employed. She designated Fugianna as the light side and Buckwheat as the dark side.

It is important to note that the light side/dark side designation had nothing to do with coat color.  Ann Baker claimed that the light side cats had a little longer noses and longer sharper ears like the Balinese. The dark side cats grew to look more like the Himalayan with a broader face, shorter ears, stockier build etc.  Ann claimed that others looked like the sacred Cat of Burma and that the 7th generation Ragdolls would all look like Kyoto who was a seal mitted as was his father, Daddy Warbucks. Ann believed the light side cats were wonderful pets and seemed to have a little more of the desired disposition than the dark side cats. Ann felt that you needed to breed one from each side to get that real Ragdoll look.

Ann Baker claimed that she bred only seal Ragdolls for the first 7 years.  However, she contradicted this by writing that the first lilac (which was actually a blue) was Thumper Jr. born 4/27/69.  So how did Ann get the lilac/blue? She claimed that she got them by using a reversal process with the original mother, and from this a beautiful true lilac color was developed. This process was so successful, that the same process was tried on the dark side of the original three, and a black point was developed. She claimed that there would never be a blue or chocolate point.

You have to keep in mind that when Ann started working on developing the Ragdoll breed, she was at the time working with her black Persians and apple head lilac Balinese. In two letters sent to Blanche Herman she told Blanche about her experimental lilac program using her apple head Balinese. Later she claimed to Blanche that someone had stolen all her lilac Balinese because they thought that they were getting Ragdolls. She said that 95% of the lilac experimental program that she was breeding were born with kinks in their tails. She asked Blanche not to tell anyone about her outcross program to bring in the lilac color. She felt that the lilac/blue Ragdolls were on the extreme light side. She claimed that in her conflict with the Daytons her lilac program was her ace in the hole.

Ann Baker knew very little about genetics and was what you might call a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of breeder. According to her, she used a lilac male apple head Balinese and bred it to several Ragdoll females.  She then bred the females offspring back to Ragdoll males.

Ann Baker was a business lady FIRST and a breeder second. There is a picture of her home/cattery on the Early Photos page of this website.  This is where Ann gave sightseeing tours of her cattery.  Tour fees were $1.00 for adults and $.50 for children, and tours were given 7 days a week from 1 to 5 p.m.

The next BIG event in Ragdoll history was Ann Baker’s attempt to totally control the Ragdoll breed by franchising it. She wanted to be the MacDonalds of the cat world. Ann felt that this would create a source of income for as long as she lived. The Franchise Contract and Prospectus was 8 pages long.  The territory and monetary portions are included below.

1. Breeders of Ragdolls would be limited to one breeder per state. A 50-mile limit would hold regardless of state boundary line.

2. The Ragdoll would be limited to only 12 breeders in the world.

3. Prices for Ragdolls would be:

$150.00 Masked marking/bicolor
$175.00 Himalayan markings/colorpoint
$225.00 Sacred cat of Burma markings/mitted
$275.00 Show quality

4. No less than $500.00 down payment can be accepted on breeding pairs (ties up territory for others). Absolutely no delivery until entirely paid for.

5. On the birth of any Ragdoll cat the franchisees shall, within three months send litter information to Franchiser and pay Franchiser $5.00 for each kitten.

6. The Franchisee shall have the option to join IRCA for a fee of $10.00.

7. The cost of the breeding pair is $1000.00 and the Franchise fee is $1500.00

Ann learned that there was a downside to having a Franchise and being the Franchiser. She decided in 1976 that it would be best to discontinue the Franchise. Her reasoning was that the Franchise was very expensive and required an attorney for everything, plus charges for all changes that she made. Ann said that “it gave protection to the buyers like you would not believe, but absolutely none to the Franchisor.” She also found that it was very expensive to set up franchises in each state. Indiana was the only state other than California in which a franchise was established – and it was created for Blanche Herman.
– written by Wain Pearce