The Long Road to Recognition
BY LAUNA WALLACE
When Ragdolls were first imported into the UK in 1981 by Lulu Rowley of Petil-lu and Pat Brownsell of Patriarca, they registered their kittens with the Cat Association (CA), as they were not recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), however they did allow them to be shown on exhibition at cat shows.
When Lad, Lass and their 3 kittens, along with Proper and Prim were released from quarantine, Pat and Lulu were eager to exhibit them and what better show for their ’coming out’ than The National Cat Show in December 1981. It transpired that Lulu’s entry was accepted, but for no apparent reason, Pat’s entry was refused.
Lulu also exhibited them at her local Suffolk & Norfolk Show on 27 March 1982. A sharp rebuke from the GCCF followed which expressly stated that if they wished to put their cats on exhibition, they shouldn’t again call them Ragdolls and the names of the parents were not to be shown because they were not registered in this country. They were advised to simply describe them by their colour and length of their coat and as being registered in the United States.
Disappointed by the attitude of the GCCF, Lulu and Pat continued to show their Ragdolls under the CA where Championship was already established, and the following cats were just some of the many that achieved their titles:Disappointed by the attitude of the GCCF, Lulu and Pat continued to show their Ragdolls under the CA where Championship was already established, and the following cats were just some of the many that achieved their titles:
CA Grand Champion
Petil-lu Willy Wombat
CA Grand Champion
Petil-lu Alice Blue Gown of Patriarca
Blossom-Time Proper of Patriarca
CA Junior Champion
CA Junior Champion
Petil-lu Catty Cat of Caralann
CA Champion Neuter
As interest in the breed developed, and one or two more people acquired a kitten for showing and breeding, Ragdolls began appearing at CA Shows around the country. At the Cat Association of Scotland Exemption Show held at Glasgow in February 1987, the undernoted Ragdolls took part.
Patriarca Raga Doon
1 First Place, 1 First Place
Patriarca Rag Toshiba
Jnr CA Champion
1 First Place, 1 Second Place
Jnr CA Champion
3 First Places
Pandapaws Cinnamon Girl
2 First Places, Best Kitten
All owned by Anne Ferguson, Glasgow. Many people have worked extremely hard over the years to promote the Ragdoll, not only sacrificing much time and energy, but by giving freely of their resources too.
Such was the dedication of Sue Ward-Smith, who with Mrs Pring’s continued help and guidance, finally in 1987 managed to get the Executive Committee to agree to the breed being registered on the Reference Register where they were described as Himalayan Longhairs. However, before any kittens could be placed on the register, it was necessary for their parents and grandparents to be registered and this meant Sue obtaining certified pedigrees from the USA before she could start the chain of registrations.
With Pat Brownsell winding down her breeding in 1987 to move to Spain, Sue had acquired several Patriarca Ragdolls which included Rag Cowboyjoe, Ragfearless Fred, Ragmo and Raglarry Motto; Rag Daisymae, Ragablue Bayou and Ragapassion. Sue was also in touch with Lulu Rowley who agreed to her buying some of her cats complete with their Certified Pedigrees so that they too could be registered and she became the proud owner of Petil-lu Cardinal, Cherry, Clematis and Carina. She later also acquired Willy Wombat, Zak, and Cosmos, Blue Surprise, Lucy, Melonie, Zarina and Pollyanna.
It was also around this time that Sue invited a group of Ragdoll fanciers from around the country to form a club for the breed, since its popularity was increasing rapidly. Sue and her friends were very aware that it would take teamwork if the breed were ever to progress within the framework of the GCCF. The Inaugural Meeting of the British Ragdoll Club took place in London on 28 June 1987 and the Founding Members were; Sue Ward-Smith of Pandapaws, Carol Noel of Catricat, Ann Ferguson of Anzcatz, Marilyn Woolley of Mewcats, Sheila Chandler of Chandella, Viv Walker of Redwood, GraceMcHattie of Superstar and Caroline Whitfield. Sue was Chairman and Carol Whitfield the Secretary.
One of the first functions that the club held was an Open Day at Sue’s home—Gardners Farm, Near Battle, East Sussex. There was an excellent attendance of 45 people interested in the breed who met for a buffet lunch followed by a most informative talk by Mr John Hansson, an International Judge who had judged Ragdolls at Cat Association Shows since they came into this country. He shared his considerable experience with the owners and breeders present by explaining the Standard of Points using Sue’s Ragdolls to demonstrate.
Grace McHattie, the then Editor of Cat World, and the first President of The British Ragdoll Club, was the obvious choice to act as Publicity Officer for the club and she set about organising a media campaign to introduce the Ragdoll to as wide an audience as possible. Television appearances were arranged, and articles were submitted to all the mainstream cat magazines. Perhaps you may have seen Grace with her seal colour-pointed Ragdoll, Pandapaws Ragcrystal, on the BBC television children’s programme Going Live! Delighting the many millions of viewers with her antics. Apparently, that morning she wasn’t feeling like being a Superstar, she was more interested in what was going on behind the sets. Phillip Schofield and Grace chatted as best they could about an invisible cat, while Crystal was occasionally visible crossing and re-crossing the rear of the picture hotly pursued by the programme’s two resident comedians.
Sadly, Sue’s health broke down in 1989 and she found it necessary to take a backseat and so the flame was passed to the next Chairman and Secretary of the club, Ann Ferguson of Anzcatz and Graeme Woolley of Mewcats.
In order for the breed to progress to the next stage of recognition — Provisional — it was necessary for the committee of The British Ragdoll Cat Club to set up the Ragdoll Breed Advisory Committee (BAC) in line with GCCF Philosophy and Rules. Before an application for promotion could be submitted, the Ragdoll BAC required fulfilling the following criteria.
PROFILE: ANN BAKER, Riverside, California, USA
Prefix: Raggedy Ann / Ann Baker Exclusives—PART 1 by Lorna Wallace
I was fortunate to have the privilege to meet Ann Baker, the founder of the Ragdoll, in the autumn of 1995 whilst completing our research for The Definitive Guide to Ragdolls. Ann, then aged 77 couldn’t have been more helpful and she happily furnished us with literature so that she could tell her story of how the Ragdolls originated. She conducted the interview with great aplomb, and as she was so obviously totally dedicated to her subject, she happily explained in great detail the genesis of the Ragdoll and the intricacies of her early breeding methods which to say the least, were unusual and somewhat unique.
The following is an extract from Ann Baker’s booklet entitled IRCA and the RAGDOLL DOCUMENTARY published in 1978. It is written in her own words.
“The unique Ragdoll Cat was originated 13 years ago by Ann Baker of Riverside, California. The first named and first born with the Sacred Cat of Burma look was in 1965.This cat is really an act of God, and not what she mated together…. It took seven years of research to prove the Ragdoll and now the set-up of the Ragdoll breed is different than ever before done in the cat world.
Mrs Baker raised only Seal Point cats for seven years which were all true to form and colour, and then discovered that by a reversal process with the original mother produced an over line bred cat which in turn produced a beautiful true lilac color. The same process was tried on the dark side and a black velvet point was developed… all offspring were sterile both lilac and black velvet, but even so all are altered before selling so there can be no claim on the market of lilacs.
There are three prices for Ragdoll cats. One price is for white legs, another price is for the black legs, a third price for mitted feet. The one with the slight white strip down his nose and a white tail tip is the most valuable. The original father looked like this and so do the most valuable of all Ragdoll cats. If you have line bred properly, many 7th generations will look like the original father. The first two types will die out in time as the years go by and the older stock dies out. After that, all Ragdoll cats will have the mitted feet and will be different from other cats in five points, namely non-matting fur, large size, limpness when handled, non-fighting disposition and a high tolerance for pain.
It has taken Ann Baker five years of research and two years of legal work to be able to get the Ragdoll cats and the name recognised as a truly authentic breed, like no other. The Ragdoll cats are a phenomenon and not what she mated together. All Ragdoll female cats must be mated to second generation male Ragdoll cats. To mate to any other, one gets a good-natured cat. Ragdoll cats are different in five ways, three are reproducible and two are not. Ann Baker is the owner of the trademark and no one can use the name Ragdoll unless she gives her written permission.”
A further extract from Ann Baker’s booklet, IRCA and THE RAGDOLL DOCUMENTARY.
THE TRUE RAGDOLL STORY
“We get so much mail asking questions about Ragdolls, so we will write this in detail.
The original Josephine, who was hit by a car, was not my cat, but belonged to a friend of mine. It was an angora (white). She was not pregnant at the time but lived to give birth to several litters, both male and female. All her kittens were huge and had non-matting fur, as well as this new disposition, which she never inherited. Regardless of what cat she mated to (alley to the best), all were the same. This is the phenomenon.
The three original cats were all related to Josephine. Her son was Daddy War Bucks. Their daughter was Fugianna. She was long and lanky like her mother. Buckwheat was thick furred, heavy body, ears out to the side, had a short medium nose and walked downhill. All the cats had the same mother, but a different father. Buckwheat was called Burmese, but not what cat show people specify as Burmese and she was not part Siamese. The original male was from the East. They were like black Persians with a brown undercoat, heavy in the rear area, high jumpers, walked downhill; therefore, they were called Burmese for want of a better name.
Now since these were all related, one can take the children of Tiki and Fugianna and cross mate to start a cattery (line breeding). When the two mothers are unable to reproduce that is the end of the reproduction line of the start. To mate her great grandsons to start a cattery results in only half breeds. If you do not get deformed cats, then you have half breeds. If you disagree, do not argue the point with me, but with God Almighty and Mother Nature. Let no one tell you differently.
We had to go back and get another son of Josephine and breed down his offspring (in order to keep the qualities of the Ragdolls) as all Ragdolls have to be descendants of Josephine…. (No other breed bred in after her). Ragdolls are not the look, but the disposition and all the other qualities above mentioned will remain the same.
Ragdolls Tu is our new Ragdolls. By new we mean there are only three males left in the world that can be used for breed stock to make purebred Ragdolls. Josephine had other sons and daughters, but their eye colouring and fur colouring was different (we had chosen the Sacred Cat of Burma look). We had now to go back and get her other males and experiment with them.
This has taken five years (ever since the original Ragdoll males were poisoned). We are now at the place where we are discussing with the other two breeders of authentic Ragdolls whether we should breed them so that they will throw only blue eyes and seal point fur or whether to leave them different as they are. So many people take the Himalayan or the Sacred Cat of Burma for the Ragdolls and vice versa we are thinking of changing the look to that of no other cat in the world. Since the public judges on looks, we feel we need to make something different so that one can tell if he has the real thing or not. How would the public react to pink cats or green cats? We have several things we are anticipating.”
THE HISTORY OF THE RAGDOLLS’ ARRIVAL IN THE UK
Extract of an article by Lorna Wallace, co-author of The Definitive Guide to Ragdolls
Spring 1981 heralded great excitement for two Norfolk ladies who would become synonymously linked in a new venture they were about to embark on with the arrival of the first Ragdolls in the UK. As Flight TWA 009 touched down at Heathrow, Lulu Rowley of the Petil-lu Cattery in Old Costessey, near Norwich was eagerly awaiting sight of her two six-month-old kittens, Lad and Lass, Seal Colour-pointed and Seal Mitted varieties, imported from Denny and Laura Dayton’s Blossom-Time Cattery in California. Her friend, Pat Brownsell of the Patriarca Cattery, excitedly looked on for the thrill of seeing her younger pair of Ragdolls, a Seal Colour-pointed and a Chocolate Bicolour, appropriately named Prim and Proper. Six months in quarantine seemed an eternity and Pat and Lulu visited the cats as often as they could. Imagine how thrilled Lulu was to get a phone call from the owner of the quarantine cattery on 28 July announcing that Lass had given birth to her first litter of kittens – three girls.
The two ladies had the foresight to broaden the base of their foundation stock by importing a further eight Ragdolls and within a year Blossom-Time Romeo, Juliet, Pistil, Camellia, Bananas, Myrtie, Spring and Summer joined the earlier quartet. With a variety of Ragdolls between them, Lulu and Pat had the potential to produce the 3 patterns of Colour-pointed, Mitted and Bicolour in the colours of seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. Once their breeding programmes were established, the ladies were inundated with requests from breeders in the UK, Europe and as far afield as Australia, wishing to establish their own foundation lines and one such breeder was Sue Ward-Smith of Ashburnham in Sussex. Her choice of prefix was inspirational, and the name of Pandapaws was to become inextricably linked to Ragdolls. Sue, along with a dedicated group of Ragdoll enthusiasts, set about getting Ragdolls accepted and registered by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. In March 1990 recognition was finally achieved and Ragdolls were eligible to be shown in the Assessment classes at Championship Shows around the country.
Documented evidence about the origin of the Ragdoll remains vague, but it is believed that the breed’s originator, Mrs. Ann Baker of Riverside, California, acquired 3 foundation cats from a Mrs. Pennel; a Seal Mitted male with a white nose blaze named Daddy Warbucks, who was derived from Josephine, a white non-pedigree female and an unknown sire. Ann also acquired two further daughters of Josephine’s; Buckwheat, a black self from a different sire of unknown origin and Fugianna, a seal bicolour, sired by Daddy Warbucks.
In due course Buckwheat was mated to Daddy Warbucks and in June 1965 she produced the first kittens that were registered as Ragdolls, Raggedy Ann Kyoto and Raggedy Ann Tiki. Ann then devised her own ‘unique’ breeding programme; whereby kittens descended from Tiki were categorised as ‘the dark side’ and from Fugianna ‘the light side’, the theory being to create genetic diversification by mating cats descended from one side to cats descended from the other. This practice continued for almost thirty years until the early 1990’s by which time it was felt that adequate diversification had been achieved
Living with a Ragdoll
Written by Chris Powell of Cheham Ragdolls from the now defunct website “Definitive Guide to Ragdoll cats”
Let us take a closer look at what the Ragdoll is really like to live with.
They are large, semi-longhaired cats, with a strong muscular feel to them. Their coat is said to be non-matting but rest assured if you neglect it knots will appear especially under the front and hind legs. Make grooming fun for your pet and he will look forward to this special time with you each day. A thorough grooming is recommended at least twice a week. Their coats are soft and silky with beautiful ruffs and knickerbockers often looking better in the winter months when they are in full coat, as with many other semi-longhaired breeds. Coat length varies with the individual, with neuters usually having a longer more luxurious look to them; this is because as we all know neuters haven’t the hormones that play havoc with their systems!
The Ragdoll comes in the universally accepted colours of Seal, Blue, Lilac, Red and Cream in the solid points, Tortie points, tabby points and tortie tabby points which may all be transposed over each of the 3 accepted patterns of colour pointed, mitted and bicolour. Chocolate and lilac being far more difficult to acquire
The Ragdoll should have good length to his body with a long tail to balance and with good strong bone and large round tufted paws to support his frame. With their broad head and width between their medium sized well-furnished ears, medium length nose with its retroussé tip, and of course their most outstanding feature, their eyes from the deepest sapphire to the most delicate china blue, they have an expression like no other cat. The Ragdoll is a perfectly balanced cat, with no extreme abnormalities and it remains the policy of the British Ragdoll Cat Club to maintain this original type, so that the Ragdoll today still appears similar to those Ragdolls that founded the breed many years ago.
When all is said and done, the clear majority of Ragdoll kittens, as in any other breed, are sold as pets. Those who buy them don’t really mind if the ear set is a little high, the nose a little straight, the eyes aren’t the deepest of blue or the markings less than perfect. They want the temperament, for this, is what the Ragdoll is most famous.
Ragdolls have a wonderfully gentle laid-back temperament and their popularity as the ideal house pet who is totally devoted to their owners has become legendary. As kittens they are full of life and inquisitive and as they mature they become very loving, trusting cats who follow their owners everywhere. They love human company and are super with children, but since the boys can grow to be such large cats, often tipping the scales at around 15lbs, children do need to be shown how to hold them correctly by supporting them with both hands. Ragdolls have puppy like characteristics that are most endearing. They get to know their names and will come when called. They also love to play, and any amount of love and affection given to a Ragdoll will be repaid over and over again
When introduced to the Ragdoll for the first time, you will be overwhelmed at just how beautiful they are, but the big difference with this breed is that, although the kittens are pretty, soft and fluffy, the adults are stunning. They are one of the few breeds that get better with age. How a kitten looks when first seen, bears no resemblance to how it will look when taken home at 13 weeks. He will look different again at 1 year old and that same kitten will look even more beautiful at 2 years old, gaining full maturity as a magnificent 4-year-old adult
So, what do you get when you buy a Ragdoll? Certainly not a dim-witted creature who sits around all day doing nothing and never feels pain, certainly not the cushion cat which it was once portrayed to be, but a stunningly beautiful individual, with almost a sense of humour all of its own. A cat who will meet you at the door when you return home, who will chatter to you when the mood takes them, who will rely on you to give them all the love, so they will be able to return it to you ten-fold. Certainly not a cat that can be ignored, just one small word of warning… One is not usually enough! It has been said before…. and has to be said again…RAGDOLLS ARE ADDICTIVE!