The history of the Ragdoll breed reads like a well developed novel, complete with medical mysteries, conspiracy theories involving secret government testing facilities, courtroom drama threats, and a trademark on the actual name “Ragdoll.”
In the 1960’s a Persian-Angora cat named Josephine was hit by a car. She belonged to a cat breeder named Ann Baker and had produced litters of pretty kittens. She had to undergo surgery and when she came back home it was realized that her demeanor had changed. When picked up she would be as limp as a ragdoll, quiet and docile. Interestingly, the next time she was bred, her kittens had this same disposition. This seemed to be a medical mystery because neither she nor her kittens to that date had ever been like that.
Using two of her sons as sires (one Birman-like and Burmese-like), the line was established and several colorations were bred. Eventually Baker started allowing some breeders to breed the Ragdolls, but kept oversight of them and would not allow the breed to be registered with any established registry. She later created her own for them in 1971 (International Ragdoll Cat Association).
As time went on and the breed flourished and became popular, the desire for them to be able to be shown and recognized became a passion for the breeders. At the same time, Baker’s theories that Josephine had been secretly tested on during her surgery by agents working for the government and genetically altered, possibly with human DNA, had begun to make these breeders feel she had become irrational.
Finally the Dayton’s entered the Ragdolls into registry in 1967 and started the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International. Baker was not in favor of this and tried to have the Club taken from the registry. When that failed she trademarked “Ragdoll” to be a term for the cats she had bred. However, because the breeders had all gotten their cats from her, they ended up falling under the trademark anyway. The trademark expired in 2005 and was not renewed due to the death of Ann Baker.