From where did the RagaMuffin come? A question oft asked and one whose answer causes much confusion. Technically, the RagaMuffin was “born” on February 27, 1994, the day ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) accepted a petition from fifteen ex-
For this answer, we must delve into a bit of history. In the early 1960’s, Ann Baker began developing a group of cat breeds. The claim to fame of all these breeds was their wonderful temperament. In Ann’s words, they were “lovers not fighters!” She grouped them under an umbrella name and called them “Cherubims” to describe their angelic natures. Of those breeds, only three remain today and form the foundation of the RagaMuffin: Ragdoll—blue eyed pointed cats with or without white; Miracle Ragdoll—non-
Ann Baker had some rather unique ideas. Breeders of Cherubim cats formed a business relationship with Ann. A contract was signed; each breeder paid a fee of $150.00 a year and a 10% commission on each kitten sold. Female breeders could be purchased from other breeders, but studs could only be purchased from Ann. Ann maintained complete control of the breed. She did not share pedigrees with anyone. A mating had to be approved by Ann prior to mating or papers would not be issued. Ann also dictated nearly every facet of breeding Cherubims -
Several breeders were at odds with Ann about the way she was promoting the cats and they decided to break away and petition the mainstream registries for recognition. At the suggestion of a geneticist assisting in obtaining acceptance by the associations, it was decided recognition should be sought only for the blue-
There was much animosity incurred as a result of this action and Ann became very bitter as a result of the defection. There are varying stories about the events surrounding this break up. Some of Ann’s stories related threats on her life and attacks on the cats. She began to tell these stories to people who wrote her for information.
In 1975, Ann obtained a trademark on the name “Ragdoll” and claimed that anyone using the name, other than IRCA breeders were in violation of that trademark. She claimed that the Ragdolls who were registered in the associations were imposters and that only she had the “real” Ragdoll.
Meanwhile, new breeders joined the IRCA and in the required contract, was a stipulation regarding the future of the cats in the event the contract was terminated. The cats could no longer be called Ragdolls, Miracle Ragdolls or Honeybears. The contract clearly stated that in the even of dissolution, the cats must either be sold to IRCA breeders at a nominal cost; spayed or neutered; or, change the name of the breed.
While IRCA breeders were basically satisfied with the structure of the IRCA, they became more and more dissatisfied with the leadership of Ann Baker. As she became older, she was more and more irascible, extremely bitter, distrustful of all around her and also less able to care for her cats. Her promo packets were an embarrassment. The condition of her cattery was far from acceptable. Eventually, the health of her cats was compromised and a large number of active IRCA breeders found this accumulation of factors to be unacceptable.
In the summer of 1993, Ann’s health was beginning to fail. She was scheduled for colon cancer surgery over the Fourth of July. As there was no one to care for the cats during her hospitalization, a group composed of Pat Flynn, Kathy Wall, Susie DeBow and Janet Klarmann volunteered go to Riverside, CA, to care for the cats during her recuperation. Upon arrival, Ann announced that she’d had a dream in which the Lord told her that she had 20 years…. whether she had the surgery or did not have the surgery. Based on that dream, she canceled her surgery!
For several days, the group met continuously with Ann who announced that she had decided to retire as of January 1, 1994, and was going to turn the IRCA over to the breeders. She was appointing this group to serve as the Board of Directors. She would remain as a consultant and maintain a small number of cats for breeding. She explained her breeding program, pedigrees, etc. Certain cats were designated as being necessary to set up an IRCA compound on the East Coast and those cats were sent home with Susie DeBow. Pedigree information and many records were sent to Pat Flynn’s home. The transition was underway
The group was ecstatic! They visualized the IRCA becoming an organization of which to be proud. The IRCA would stand for quality cats, quality breeders, quality information and publicity.
However, the closer January 1st came, the less Ann was willing to let go. Shortly after the July meeting, Ann began to find fault with the President Appointee, Pat Flynn… eventually she “ousted” her (cancelled her membership in IRCA.) She then began to find fault with others who had been designated as board members. By January 1, she had completely reversed her decision and decided there would be no transition.
The group was disappointed and determined to find a way to secure the future of the cats without Ann Baker’s control and reputation. Many IRCA breeders felt the same and several avenues were considered…even to joining with the mainstream Ragdolls. But, as the IRCA contract stated specific remedies should the contract with IRCA be dissolved, the final decision to abide by the contract and simply to petition the mainstream organizations to accept the cats currently registered as IRCA Cherubims and give them another name.
Time was of the essence….ACFA indicated that they would give us serious consideration. Their Semi-
Verle and Sue Castle volunteered to develop the standard and spent many hours consulting with Winnie Kuehler, ACFA’s Executive Director. They took Ann’s records…handwritten pedigrees as well as computer records that had been kept by Brenda Whyde, Ann’s Secretary, and entered them into a data base giving each of us a correct three generation pedigree for our foundation cats. It was a monumental job and one that was of utmost importance to the breed.
A name was necessary to put on the Preliminary Standard and Curt Gehm suggested “RagaMuffin.” The word “ragamuffin” brings to mind a child who is a street urchin…a child without a home but with endearing qualities. Curt had recently spoken with the national Ragdoll club to see what options might be available should the group desire to register the cats as Ragdolls. Basically, the Ragdoll community indicated that in their opinion, our cats were just street cats and not worthy of being incorporated into “their” breed, particularly if we insisted on recognizing the non-
The intention was to have an official vote to choose the name. However, even though there was a long list of names suggested, the vote never took place. Verle and Sue felt that since we’d used the name “RagaMuffin” in the standard that was being reviewed by the ACFA Executive Director, it would look foolish to suggest a different one in mid-
A moving force in our move for acceptance was a long time IRCA Breeder, Joan Tuza. Joan was a flight attendant for USAir, and one of the breed’s greatest advocates. She was planning to attend the ACFA Semi to help present the breed, but was killed in a mysterious accident only days before the presentation. Her voice was eloquent and persuasive. I’m sure that she would have been one of our greatest assets these past ten years. Her loss was a loss to us all….but, her dedication and love of the breed will always be with us.
On February 27, 1994, Pat Flynn, Curt Gehm, Verle and Sue Castle represented the RagaMuffin breed group to the ACFA Board of Directors. The ACFA BOD accepted the RagaMuffin as an Experimental Breed ......... and the RagaMuffin was born!