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The Turkish Van Cat

turkish van cat

Turkish Van cat is an ancient historical breed from central and southwest Asia this cat hails from what now is Iran, Iraq, eastern Turkey and southwest Soviet Union. Although long kept in these areas it was 1955 when “Turkish cats” were brought to England and 1982 before coming to the United States. They are not easily found for export.


Sometimes called the Russian longhair they are a different breed entirely than the Turkish Angora, which they are sometimes confused with. Seen side by side the difference is clear, as they have more size, bone and coat.


Their unusual coat has no undercoat but does have a texture similar to cashmere, offering a water resistant coat unlike many other cats. They are very slow maturing cats, often only at 3-5 years reaching full size and development. Their semi-longhair needs little grooming.


According to the Turkish Van cat breed standard 30 points each is awarded to the head and body, 15 to the coat, 20 to color and pattern with 5 to balance. There shouldn’t be weakness or refinement but rather power and strength.


Turkish Van Cat is an alert, intelligent breed that is most secure with their feet on the ground or securely held. A rainbow of colors of solid and white, tabby and white, tortoiseshell and white and smokes offer a color for any preference but the color is largely on the head and tail. White is predominant and there is a plumed tail to attract attention.


Males can run from 9-20 pounds with queens smaller. They are very active and many might think they are a thoroughbred horse in a cat’s body! They love to run and their muscled hindquarters can move unstable footing. They can be almost too smart. They can find ways to get out of where they should be and, sometimes, into trouble where they shouldn’t be!


Some different behavior has been noted by some Turkish Van owners. Among the most noted – a tendency of some Turkish Van cats to swim! They have been known to enter the water in hot weather or to go after a bird, insect or fish and their unique coat dries faster than other breeds. They’ll also commonly play in water from a faucet or even the water in their bowls. They may carry the toys around for a while then drop the toys in the water, or get into the shower with their owner. Unlike many “typical” cats they aren’t upset by water – however if you have a pool it’s doubly important to have a way for them to get out should they get into the pool!


This is a cat that is unique in appearance and action, with little grooming and endless entertainment. With a long history and such rare qualities they are a cat for the ages. They are a treasure far beyond their native land!

Click here for our Turkish Van Breeders List!

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