I just want a pet cat. Why does it matter that the breeder breeds non-standard cats and sells them as Ragdolls? (minks, sepia, solid, BEW)
It matters, whether or not you're happy with a non-purebred, and here is why.
Someone who knows what they are doing will know about genetic issues with the breed, potential illnesses, etc. They will also know how to avoid these things. They will be breeding for the purpose of strengthening the breed, not just for money or for curiosity or for whatever random reason, and they'll likely have a source of additional knowledge (mentors and such).
I don't buy into "she's a vet and therefore there will be no problems" --frankly, most of the vets I know have no clue about purebred cats. I've been to quite a few different area vets and usually they look quizzically at my Ragdoll and say something like, "Are you sure it's a Ragdoll? I heard that Ragdolls look just like long haired Siamese." Or some other such silly thing. Maybe a vet has some arrogance that of course they know cats so why shouldn't they breed them? But to do so without knowing the breed, without knowing how to BETTER THE BREED (which is the goal of breeding) is foolish at best.
Just because the cat you're considering appears to be pointed (or doesn't appear to be mink) doesn't mean the breeder isn't a backyard breeder. And just because the person is a vet also doesn't mean she isn't a backyard breeder.
And even if by some chance he/she isn't a backyard breeder, the fact that he/she doesn't know what their doing --breeding minks and falsely selling them as Ragdolls--he/she clearly isn't working to better the breed, and doesn't have anyone advising them that what they're is doing is wrong. It's lying. It's fraud to sell something as one thing when it isn't that thing. Getting lucky and maybe getting something that is what it's supposed to be doesn't make the fraud side any less. It just means getting lucky...and maybe you won't get lucky.
Why do disreputable breeders and backyard breeders breed non-standard Ragdolls so often? Because buying a cat with breeding rights from a reputable breeder is 1. more expensive than buying a pet, and 2. a reputable breeder will require a prospective new breeder to have a mentor, attend cat shows, and the like, and spend time and money becoming knowledgeable about the breed. A backyard breeder is likely more interested in a quick buck and would prefer the easier/cheaper route: find a Ragdoll-like cat and start producing. Even better if they can make claims of "rare" because they can hike up the prices.
By the way, it's backyard breeders that more often will sell cats without requiring them to be speutered. That should tell you something right there, that these people are not concerned about the future of their cats' genetic lines. All reputable breeders will require either early speutering before sending them home, or for you to have them spay/neutered by 6-months of age.
With all that I've experienced and read on forums, I'd rather take a chance with a random bred cat that "looks like or acts like" a ragdoll than a cat from a backyard breeder, as random genes seem to be sturdier than genes from someone who doesn't know what they're doing with the breed, or maybe it's just that your chances are slightly better. You can do the research by reading through "ragdoll health" and "ragdoll loss." It's tough, but eye-opening.
And here's the money thing: if you end up with a sick cat, it will cost you much, much more than losing a deposit. It will be exponentially more dollar wise, and the emotional cost, while you are trying to study, will be more than you can ever recoup in study time.
It's fraud to advertise something that it is not. Saying minks are Ragdolls. They are not. Minks and blue eyed whites are not rare, they are either not Ragdolls, or they are potentially deaf (or both) in the case of BEW. Someone purposefully breeding potentially deaf cats is not a good breeder. The Truth About Minks: http://ragdollcatsunited.com/smf/index.php?topic=50.0
Of course once you have a kitten, it's yours, there is no turning back. So making a wise decision up front is, well, wise. Repeating an unwise decision just because you lucked out once? Not so sure that's very wise, but of course that's just my opinion.