The History of the RagaMuffin Cat
The story of the RagaMuffin begins with an accident. During the 1960s, Ann Baker, a Persian breeder, developed a friendship with a neighbour who fed and cared for a colony of feral cats. A car struck one of these cats, named Josephine, who had previously given birth to wild kittens. After Josephine returned to health, she delivered a litter of kittens that impressed people with their sweetness and sociability. Although any difference in temperament could be explained by natural variation or having different fathers, a highly unscientific theory, that the accident somehow accounted for the kittens docile nature persists to this day.
Ann Baker gathered as many of Josephine's kittens as possible and began breeding to preserve the wonderful personality of these cats that went as limp as a rag doll when cuddled. She gave the cats the angelic name Cherubim. The most well-known of Josephine's random-bred offspring were Buckwheat, a Birman-like points (dark face, ears, tail and legs) and mitts (white paws). Many of the Cherubim had points and mitts, but others came in a rainbow of solid colours and bi-colour variations. Ann Baker called these non pointed and non mitted cats Miracle Ragdolls.
Determined to direct the progress of her Cherubim cats, Ann Baker developed strict rules for anyone wishing to breed them. She alone knew the ancestry of each cat and made all breeding decisions. In 1967, a group split away from Ann Baker's control, taking their cats to mainstream registeries to show and make their own breeding choices. They chose to call their cats Ragdolls and to breed only pointed cats in three patterns.
Bitter over this defection, Ann Baker took steps to exert greater control over the development of "her" breed. She set up her own registry, the International Ragdoll Cat Association, and required all her breeders to register only with her. Ann Baker patented the name Ragdoll for use only with cats of her breeding and registry. Catteries were franchised and paid royalties for each kitten sold. For more than 20 years, Ann Baker's program continued, with Cherubim breeders relatively content to enjoy raising the kittens while allowing Ann Baker to make marketing and breeding decisions.
Eventually, even her loyal group developed misgivings about Ann Baker, who struggled to keep a healthy cattery while handling the responsibilities of the registry.
In 1993 a group of breeders including Janet Klarmann, Curt Gehm and Kim Clark persuaded Ann Baker to retire and planned to take over management of the association. After a few months, however, Ann Baker refused to relinquish control. Regretfully, the group voted to leave IRCA and seek recognition with established registeries.
Since their cats included all colours and patterns and they signed contracts not to use the Ragdoll name, the first crisis focused on what to call the cats, in the process of submitting a standard to American Cat Fanciers Association. Janet Klarmann credits Curt Gehm of Leibling Cats in Virginia with the choice of "RagaMuffin". The explanation given was that since the original gene pool developed from street cats of Riverside, they were truly Ragamuffins----endearing little urchins!
The M is capitalized "because they're big huggable,lovable Muffins" says Janet Klarmann, who breeds under the Encore Prefix. The new name stuck and in May 2001 the cats gained championship recognition in the USA.
The breed is officially recognized by the following Registering Bodies:
The World Cat Federation
American Cat Fanciers Association
Cat Fanciers Association
The American Association of Cat Enthusiasts
United Feline Organization
Cat Fanciers Federation
ICE (International Cat Exhibitors) in America and Japan
OERCC (Oesterreichischer Royal Cat Club) in Austria
In June 2009 the RagaMuffin name was recognised by the GCCF in the United Kingdom and as such, only AUTHENTIC RagaMuffins in the UK will be registered with that Governing Body.