Ragdoll is a pointed, blue-eyed, large-sized cat with a semi-long hair. It is a harmonious cat and not typed to to have extreme properties. The most special characteristic of ragdolls is the temperament. The founder of ragdoll breed, American Ann Baker noted: “The ragdoll is first disposition, then size and then color”. However, each ragdoll is an individual personality.
Ragdoll has three different patterns according to the amount (or absence) of white colour:
1. Colourpoint: no white at all.
2. Mitted: white gloves in paws and white boots in legs. White chin, white strip between front legs that continues to under tail. The creator of ragdoll prized mitted most as “the ragdoll look”.
3. Bicolour: on the face a white upside-down “V” letter, stomach and legs are white.
Ragdoll has four traditional colours: seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. More recent colours are red, creme and tortie. Tabby pattern can be found in all the previously mentioned colours. According to Strobel & Nelson (2002, page 7) tabby was present in Ann Baker’s early breedings, but she sold these kittens to other breeders, who then started to reintroduce it. Indeed, the PawPeds database shows that Josephine’s white son (Ben Casey, RAG w) met a lilac colourpoint queen (Gin Mill, RAG c) and, as a result, they had a seal tabby colourpoint daughter Little Orphan Annie (RAG n 21). Thus, apparently Josephine’s genotype was tabby. The very first generations of ragdolls included also other tabby individuals. Later on, tabby pattern has been introduced to Ragdolls also from other breeds, such as Sacred Birmans.
What does tabby mean?
The basic, wild type coloration/pattern of the cat is the ubiquitous tabby (‘lynx’ in America). It means hairs dark at the tip and light at the base, i.e. bands of pigment in each hair, a property called agouti. Also involved is a second system of pigmentation in which alternating amounts of banding can be seen in hairs, resulting in the appearance of dark stripes against lighter areas of fur and the striping appearance. This striping is due to a reduction in the quality of the light bands, leading to their elimination with the result that primarily dark pigment is produced. The effect is to create the impression of one pattern imposed upon another. Thus, tabby is a composite of two features: a light background component in which individual hairs have extensive light bands and a superimposed darker component in which hairs have little or no banding. Striping is the basic feature of most members of the cat family. It plays an important adaptive role in camouflage by helping in merging into the environment.
The ancestors of all domesticated cats were agouti and, thus, tabby is the very original pattern of cats. Non-agouti self (solid) colour is a mutation that is recessive to the dominant agouti. In principle, all cats are either agouti or non-agouti. Four tabby types can be distinguished: in the order of dominance they are ticked (‘Abyssinian’), spotted, mackerel (tiger-striped) and blotched also called as ‘classic’. The dark component is organised into narrow vertical stripes with a constant and regular spacing in the mackerel type, while in the blotched type the dark component is expanded into a less organized structure with wide whorls . Mackerel dominated the depictions of tabby markings from the Middle Ages. Thereafter, the blotched phenotype remarkably increased and finally in 1758 was described by Linnaeus as characteristic for the domestic cat. It has the typical M-pattern in the forehead, white inside the ears and stripes in cheeks, tail and legs. Characteristic patterns in the body of classic tabby cats include three thin stripes running along the spine and wide, swirled patterns on the sides. These often appear as so called ghost patterns in tabby ragdolls.
Several loci determine the pattern of coat markings. The Tabby locus contains alleles for mackerel and blotched. In addition, one or more modifier loci create a spotted coat by altering the mackerel stripes and that possibly also influence variation in the blotched pattern. Ticked locus may also be involved, affecting the shape of markings so that stripes are progressively thinner and more numerous. In colourpointed breeds tabby markings are also masked by epistatic interactions. The pigmentation in cats is a complicated process that is affected by both genetic and epigenetic factors. Genes, their products and the interactions are responsible for the wide array of appearance across cats.
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