The Turkish Van cat makes an exotically different pet, with its beautiful chalk white coat and striking auburn face and tail. Its main claim to originality is that it enjoys swimming and playing with water. In colder climates, care must be taken to ensure that the cat does not catch cold, although in its native Turkey the winters are very severe, and Turkish cats are generally strong and hardy. This is still a rare breed, so you must expect to pay quite a lot and to have to wait for a kitten, as demand will probably exceed the supply. It is worth the wait, however, as the Turkish cat is lively and affectionate and makes a charming, intelligent companion. A neutered male would make an excellent pet and may be obtained more reasonably because not as breeding as female kittens.
The Turkish is an easy cat to groom, but alight daily combing is recommended to remove dead hairs, particularly when the cat is moulting in spring and summer. Occasionally a little nontoxic grooming powder may be dusted into the coat to keep away greasy marks, which would otherwise mark the lovely chalk-white appearance. Unlike many other cats, the Turkish will enjoy a bath, but keep the animal warm afterwards to prevent it from catching a chill.
Origin and history
Turkish cats are thought to have originated as a result of natural selection due to interbreeding within a geographically isolated area, the Van region of Turkey, where they have been domesticated for centuries. They were first introduced into the United Kingdom in the 1950s when a pair was brought from Turkey by an English breeder. The line was gradually established, with more cats being imported from Turkey, and is now becoming popular in Europe.
At present, the breed is not recognised for competition in the United States, although some are bred and kept as pets.
Turkish cats breed true, the kittens always resembling their parents, and the breed is being kept pure by not outcrossing to any other breed or colour variety. The average litter contains four kittens.
The kittens are born pure chalk white not pink, like most all-white animals with the auburn markings already quite clearly visible. Their eyes open very early, at four or five days, and are blue, gradually changing to pale amber.
Their coat is semi-longhaired and is “awn” in texture(most cats have three types of coat hair… awn, guard and down) which makes their coat feel as soft as a rabbit, and it also dries extremely quickly which goes well with their happiness in water. Their coat however oiled and thus quite waterproof and bathing them is almost pointless.
They are accomplished fishercats… so if you have a fish tank… keep it covered. Expect them to play in your bath and even the toilet bowl if left to their own devices.
Cats are extremely adaptable, and fast breeders. In the wild, the kittens that naturally have the most desirable traits for a region will survive the easiest and thus pass one those desirable traits to their progeny. Turkish Van cats come from a region with extreme temperature swings, with very hot summers and freezing cold winters, so they grow a thick winter coat, and shed it in summer, so they require at least daily brushing in Autumn and owners would be advised to have a portable vacuum on hand. This is not a cat, for a family where someone has a cat allergy.
Mountain bred, they exhibit the build structure typical of such felines. They are one of the larger of the cat breeds, well-muscled, but with shorter front legs than back legs(like a mountain lion). Under their beautiful soft fur, is a well-muscled, playful jumping machine. They typically exhibit kitten-like behaviour to and beyond their 5th year all of which makes them extremely popular cats.
Many Turkish Van Owners describe them as dogs in a cats body. Whilst many cats will “hunt” a toy mouse or ball when its thrown… a Turkish Van will not only hunt it, but it will also retrieve it like a dog. Some owners take great delight in showing off their Van’s retrieving and swimming abilities, throwing toys into a swimming pool which their Turkish Van happily jumps in to retrieve.
These cats love to play and make super pets…. But understand they are needier than most other breeds. They will seek your company at all times, will not be happy to be left alone for long periods and will expect you to be available to play with them when you are needed.