History Lesson: Where Ragdoll Cats Originate From Explained

Ragdoll cats are a beloved breed, admired for their placid personalities, luxurious fur and striking blue eyes.

They are well-known as one of the most popular types of house cats in the world today, due to their friendly demeanour, low-maintenance behaviour and beautiful appearance.

But where did ragdoll cats originate from? And how long have they been around for?

Ragdoll cats originate from California, USA. The ragdoll breed was developed in the 1960s by breeder Ann Baker, and is believed to be a mix of either Angora, Birman, Burmese or Persian cats. It’s not completely known which breeds were used. Ragdolls are the only long-haired cat specifically bred to have a docile personality, making them one of the biggest selling cat breeds in the world.

I’ve owned a ragdoll cat for the past five years and I can confidently say they make wonderful companions and provide endless entertainment with their playful, funny antics and inquisitive, curious nature.

In this article, I’ll explain more about the breeding history of ragdoll cats along with how their are bred today.

Origin story: where do ragdoll cats come from?

Ragdoll cats are a relatively new breed that originated from California in the 1960s. They were developed by breeder Ann Baker, who crossed a long-haired Angora cat named Josephine with either a Persian, Birman or Burmese cat to create what we now know as the ragdoll.

According to some sources, the story goes that Josephine was injured in a car accident and that the litter of kittens she birthed not long after had very docile, laid back personalities.

This behaviour was carried on throughout subsequent litters, and so the ragdoll breed was born.

Ragdoll cats are characterised by their silky coats of medium length and typically white fur (although some are black), deep blue eyes and “floppy” behavior when picked up, hence the name ‘ragdoll’.

These gentle giants come in six colors: seal point (the darkest), chocolate point (the next lightest), blue point (in between), lilac point (lighter still), redpoint or flamepoint (lightest) and creampoint or tortiepoint (most exotic).

Ragdoll bloodlines remain closed for outcrossing, which helps maintain their unique genetic composition that makes them stand out from other cats.

Today, ragdolls can be found all over the world, with their popularity spanning many continents and countries.

What is the history of ragdoll cats?

The ragdoll cat has a long and interesting history. The origin of the breed can be traced back to the 1960s in California, when breeder Ann Baker developed the first ragdoll from a white longhaired female named Josephine. Josephine had an unusual trait: she didn’t struggle when picked up and held, which is how Baker got her idea for the ragdoll name.

The foundation cats used to create the ragdoll were said to have been originally found as strays in areas around Los Angeles and Riverside, California.

It is theorised that they may have descended from Birman, Burmese or Persian cats brought over by sailors during World War II, but it is impossible to confirm due to no records existing prior to Baker’s breeding program at that time.

The ragdoll breed was recognised by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1993 and since then its popularity continues growing among cat lovers all over the globe.

How are ragdoll cats bred today?

Ragdoll are an increasingly popular choice for cat breeders today. This is due to ragdolls being a common choice for would-be owners and also because they can fetch a high price for breeders, selling anywhere between $400-$2000 USD each. Today, ragdolls are still one of the most sought after breeds by feline enthusiasts.

Breeders use selective breeding practices to ensure ragdolls maintain their signature traits which include soft fur, large blue eyes and an affectionate personality.

If bred properly, without crossbreeding, a ragdoll’s coloring should be even all over its body, with seal point (dark brown/black) being the most common coloration for these cats.

To guarantee that bred kittens look like true ragdolls, it is important for breeders to mate cats from reputable and pure bloodlines with each other so as not to introduce any unwanted genes into the litter. This process can take up to two generations before producing desired results.

For good health and temperament of future ragdoll litters, responsible breeders will test both parents for genetic diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

It is also essential that kittens receive proper vaccinations prior being placed in homes at around 12 weeks old or older depending on state laws and regulations.

Before purchasing a ragdoll, you should always get the breeder to show you official documentation of your ragdoll’s lineage and also up-to-date vaccination records.

Can ragdolls be bred with other cats?

Yes, ragdolls can be bred with other cat breeds. This is known as outcrossing. However, doing so can result in mixed-breed offspring that do not meet the standards for a purebred ragdoll set by the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

Typically, crossbred ragdoll cats will not be eligible for showing in competitions or registering with breed registries.

Outcrossing may also create kittens with traits that deviate from the desired characteristics of the ragdoll breed, such as coat color, pattern, or temperament.

Because of this, breeders should exercise caution when mixing ragdolls with other cat types and always disclose that they’ve done so to potential buyers.

How popular is the ragdoll cat breed now?

Ragdoll cats have grown to be incredibly popular due to their gentle, affectionate, playful personalities and beautiful appearances. Many owners post funny and cute photos and videos featuring their ragdolls, which has raised awareness about the breed even further. This has led to more people purchasing ragdolls from shelters or reputable breeders around the world.

Personalities aside, one of the other reasons ragdolls have become so highly sought after is due to their unique physical characteristics including long silky fur, wide eyes, and a floppy body type which gives the impression of “going limp” when picked up.

This is where the term ‘ragdoll’ comes from.

Owners who want a low-maintenance cat that is friendly and good with children are gravitating more towards buying ragdoll cats due to them being gentle and fun.

As someone who has owned a ragdoll cat for more than five years, I can certainly attest to this.

Overall, it is clear that ragdoll cats are becoming more popular with modern day cat owners, including younger generations, who want a pet that is independent, capable of being left at home alone, but is cuddly, cute and looks good in photos or videos.

Final message

The ragdoll cat has a history dating back more than six decades.

Ever since Ann Baker created the first-ever ragdoll, the breed has increasingly grown in popularity to the point where they are one of the most sought-after breeds in the world today.

And for good reason – ragdolls, with their gentle, friendly personalities and beautiful looks, make for wonderful pets and are suitable for solo owners, couples or families.

They also make for some great social media content, with their playful and inquisitive behaviour making for some entertaining videos!