In the family of cat breeds, Ragdolls are among the younger siblings. The cats were first developed by breeder Ann Baker in Riverside, California, in the 1960s. Baker’s foundation stock consisted of Josephine, a domestic longhair whose white coat concealed the genes for either a seal mitted or black tuxedo pattern, and various other longhaired cats of unknown ancestry that she owned or found in her neighborhood.
Baker selected for cats with gentle, placid personalities, large size, and beautiful long coats characterized by a Himalayan pattern, the name for the “points” seen on Siamese-type cats. The result was a cat she called the Ragdoll, for its propensity to flop happily into the arms of anyone who picked it up. Later, Persians, Birmans and Burmese may also have contributed to the Ragdoll’s development.
Baker made many unusual claims about the cats’ development, including alien influence, CIA experiments, and infusions of human genes, but that is all they are: claims, with no basis in fact. Other people had begun breeding Ragdolls as well. They broke away from Baker and formed the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International, with the goal of standardizing the breed and achieving recognition by cat registries.
The Cat Fanciers Association began registering the cats in 1993 and gave them full recognition in 2000. Most registries now recognize the breed, including the American Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association. Ragdolls are not outcrossed to any other breeds.