History & Development of the Ragdoll Breed

Ragdoll History – Evolution of RFCI

The Ragdoll Society evolution into the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International

This is the history of how the Ragdoll Society evolved into the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International.  Why was the change made, what was the purpose of changing the name, and what if anything was gained making these changes.

The Ragdoll Society was officially formed February 1, 1975, as an organization dedicated to the enhancement of the Ragdoll.  An election was held and Denny Dayton was elected as the first President of the Ragdoll Society, Laura Dayton was elected as Vice-President and Ruby Spagnol was elected as Secretary-Treasure.  One of the first goals of this first Ragdoll club was to gain recognition of the three patterns for competition showing in the various Cat Fancy Associations.

The newly elected Board felt that if they were to be successful in obtaining their goals, there needed to be a means of communication among all the members of the Ragdoll Society.  As a result it was determined to publish a quarterly newsletter beginning March 1, 1975.  The goal of the newsletter would be to cultivate worldwide friendship and provide constructive information for all Ragdoll owners.  Topics in the newsletter would range from diet, and grooming to information on how to enter a show and present their Ragdoll to the judges.

In the first year the membership grew to 51 members, however 90% of the membership were owners of Ragdolls, rather than breeders.  In 1975 there were only 7 Ragdoll catteries.   Members were allowed to hold office in the Ragdoll Society, even though they did not have a cattery nor were breeding Ragdolls.   The officers of the newly created club encouraged Ragdoll owners to join the club and be apart of the “Family of Ragdoll Owners”, and to participate in the decisions affecting the future of the Ragdoll.

In 1977 President Denny Dayton felt that if the Ragdolls were going to gain recognition within the various Cat Associations it would be necessary for the Ragdoll owners to continue the efforts of registering and showing their Ragdolls in order to gain acceptance for championship showing within the various Cat Associations.

In 1977 the Ragdoll Society Board began looking at the possibility of forming a breed club out of the Ragdoll Society, and affiliating with the Cat Fanciers Federation (CFF).  In 1978 a vote was held within the Ragdoll Society to become a breed club and the name of Ragdoll Fanciers Club, (RFC) was chosen.  An application for membership was submitted to CFF and they were accepted for membership.  Dues payable to CFF by the RFC were $25.00 a year.  The founding officers of the club were Vern Oliver, President; Ole Henriksen, Vice President; and Doris Michaux, Secretary-Treasure.  The Trustees were Laura Dayton, Elaine Fagerstrom and Brig. Gen. Robert N. Trubey.

Affiliation was made with CFF because it was the first cat association to recognize the Ragdolls in all three patterns.  As a result all questions regarding the breed are referred to the breed club, which is the formal representative in maintaing the standards and in the breeding program for the Ragdoll breed.

A Breed Committee, which includes one member from each of the clubs member catteries, was appointed by RFC President Vern Oliver. Their first meeting was held in Yuma Arizona January 6, 1979.

Because membership was so scattered, no regular formal meetings would be scheduled.  Members were encouraged to form local groups, and get together informally and to correspond.  Club by-laws required that one member of each family subscribe to the Rag newsletter in order to stay in contact and keep up on club news and notices.

The Ragdoll Fanciers Club, created in 1978 worked hard to get the Ragdolls accepted in all the cat associations, and were successful in gaining acceptance in all but CFA.  However without realizing it, RFC was in its effort to get the Ragdoll accepted in all cat associations creating a problem for it’s self.  RFC had been chartered as a TICA Charted club, a ACFA Chartered club, and a ACA Chartered club.  As most of you know a breed club can only be affiliated with one cat association, and RFC was already chartered as a breed club in CFF.  Article II of the RFC Constitution read that “The Ragdoll Fancier’s Club shall be affiliated with the Cat Fancier’s Federation, Inc., a nonprofit organization chartered in the state of Rhode Island.”  As an example, Ragdoll International is affiliated with TICA, it cannot at the same time be affiliated with CFA, while  Ragdolls of America Group is affiliated with CFA it cannot be affiliated as a TICA breed club at the same time.  The bottom line was that RFC had affiliated with way too many cat associations and needed to disaffiliate from all but CFF if they were to remain as the Ragdoll Breed Club in CFF.

This had apparently gone unnoticed by either RFC or CFF, but in 1992 members of the RFC decided that it was time to make an all out push to seek acceptance of the Ragdolls into CFA.  When CFF became aware of this, they knew that CFA was organized in the same way they were, in that the clubs are the members of the cat association not the individual members as is the case in TICA, ACFA, & ACA. It seems that CFF contacted the newly elected RFC President Pat Steckman and made her aware of the situation, that RFC was no longer in compliance with the CFF Constitution.

As if this wasn’t enough of a problem, Pat and the RFC Board had decided that they wanted the RFC to be an international club and had proposed changing the name of RFC to Ragdoll Fanciers Club International, (RFCI).  In the view of the CFF this would constitute the forming of another Ragdoll breed club.  CFF only allowed one breed club per breed, an being as how the RFC was already chartered as the CFF Ragdoll Breed Club, it would not be possible for the RFCI to also be a member of the CFF.  For the old time Ragdoll breeders like Denny, Laura, and Blanche Herman, who were members of the RFC Board this was devastating, and they were vehemently opposed to this and urged newly elected RFC President Pat Steckman to do what ever was necessary to bring the RFC into compliance with the CFF constitution. Below is the letter that Denny sent out to the RFC members.

DAYTONS LETTER FEB 93 Click for larger view

DAYTONS LETTER FEB 93 – Click for larger view

CFF gave the RFC until the CFF Annual meeting to be held on March 6-7, 1993 to submit a RFC Constitution that was in compliance with the CFF constitution, if RFC wished to remain within the CFF as the Ragdoll breed club. On February 17, 1993 RFC secretary Kim Brantley sent out a letter to each RFC member with a ballot to vote for a new constitution and by-laws to submit to CFF.


KIM BRANTLEY FEB 93 – Click for larger view

However on February 26, 1993 Kim sent out second ballot to the membership, nullifying the first ballot that had gone out on February 17th. This ballot appears to indicate that the President and the RFC board had made the decision to abandon the CFF, and become an independent Ragdoll breed club. The new ballot replaced Article II of the RFC constitution which read “The Ragdoll Fancier’s Club shall be affiliated with the Cat Fancier’s Federation, Inc., a nonprofit organization chartered in the state of Rhode Island,” with Article II of the RFC by-laws Annual Dues. The view of the RFC board was that the RFC would relinquish the RFC charter and the Ragdoll Fanciers Club name back to CFF. This action caused a split within RFC with a group of Ragdoll breeders choosing to remain within CFF and a much larger group choosing to leave CFF and become an independent Ragdoll club acting as the Main Ragdoll Breed Club with associated smaller Ragdoll Breed Clubs to interact with each of different cat associations. Those who choose to remain as a Ragdoll Breed Club within CFF held a new election of officers for RFC at the CFF Annual meeting in March 1993, Pam Sessa was elected as the new president of RFC. This second ballot of February 26th contained a vote for the new name of the group that left CFF, and they chose the name Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RFCI)


LETTER FEB 26 93 - Click for larger view

LETTER FEB 26 93 – Click for larger view


ARTICLE-II – Click for larger view

RFC/CFF sent out a letter to both ACFA & TICA asking if the other Ragdoll Breed Club had notified them of their name change, and that the name Ragdoll Fanciers Club was affiliated only with CFF.


03-25-93 – Click for larger view

For easier reading the text above has been retyped. Click for larger view.

RE-TYPED - Click for larger view

RE-TYPED – Click for larger view

On April 27, 1993 Angelina Umlauf the secretary of RFC sent a letter to Pat Steckman the president of RFCI asking why she was still using the RFC name.



LETTER2-04-29-93 – Click for larger view

In the Spring edition of the Ragdoll World 1993 RFCI President Pat Steckman announced the new name of the club.




In conclusion:  Despite the fact that many of the early Ragdoll breeders were deeply hurt by the split with CFF, which was the first cat association to reach out to them and accept them as a breed club, history shows that it was probably in the best interest of the Ragdoll community that there was a split.  There is no question that RFCI stands today as the Main Ragdoll Breed Club, and we still retain the RFC representing the Ragdoll Breed within CFF, but we have now added two TICA Ragdoll Breed Clubs as well as two CFA Ragdoll Breed clubs, and a large number of International Ragdoll Breed Clubs.  To a large extend these many Ragdoll Breed Clubs have worked together to advance the Ragdoll breed worldwide, and in my view have been very successful in doing so.
Written by Wain Pearce and taken from letters, as well as articles in the Ragdoll World.