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May 14, 2013 at 12:20 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

The Turkish Van

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Feline 101 Blog Series

Turkish Van

Turkish Van Stats

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Cat of the Week: The Turkish Van

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Turkish Van Cats

Turkish Van

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Fun Facts About Turkish Van

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  • In contrast to some cat breeds, which are the result of careful, meticulous breeding programs, the Turkish Van is considered a naturally occurring genetic line.
  • While Turkish Vans are still rare in the US, the breed is a well established one. In fact, while its impossible to be completely certain of their lineage, with evidence supporting their existence back 5,000 years, experts say this cat line may be one of the oldest there is!
  • Just how old is the breed? So old, there are even legends placing the Turkish Van cats on Noah’s Ark.  According to the story, as the Ark finally came in sight of dry land, two Turkish Van cats, in their eagerness, jumped ship and swam to shore. Lake Van, which resides about 75 miles from Mount Ararat, is the place those cats supposedly went after the flood receded and is the origin of their name.
  • Whatever your personal beliefs, genealogists have determined the cats do in fact, originate in the Van region of Turkey. Further supporting the story – Turkish Vans are known as the “Swimming  Cats.”  With a water resistant coat and wide leg stance, these cats are built to swim and are famously fascinated by water!
  • Experts believe the Turkish Van’s love of water may originate from the extremely hot high temperatures in their native home. With a climate sometimes reaching well over 100 degrees fahrenheit, these cats swam to survive!
  • The small mark between their shoulder blades of many Turkish Van cats is called a “thumbprint of God” and is thought to be a sign of a blessed and lucky cat!

Turkish Van Cats

Turkish Van

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How to Spot a Turkish Van

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Long Fur with Distinctive Van Patterning.  While many people think “Turkish Van” and “Turkish Angora” are interchangeable terms, or that the Turkish Van is simply a variation of the Turkish Angora, neither belief is accurate. While both cats originate from Turkey, they represent completely unique genetic lines with different body types, coat qualities, and coloring. The simplest way to differentiate between them is their distinct Van patterning. Turkish Angora cats come in all types of colors and patterns. In contrast, Turkish Van cats should be 80% white with color markings reserved for the tail and the top of the head (though small on the body are permitted as long as they don't detract from the pattern). This patterning is a result of the same “piebald gene” responsible for tuxedo or bicolor patterning in cats, but is expressed to greater degree in Turkish Van cats.

Though white and red is the most common coloring, the semi-long, cashmere-soft coat of the Turkish Van boasts color markings in a variety of patterns and colors. CFA recognized variations include van markings of solid red, red tabby, solid cream, cream tabby, solid blue, blue tabby, solid black, brown tabby, and tortoiseshell. Even smoke or pointed pattern colors are allowed so long as they follow the van patterning and appears mainly on the head and tail, covering just 20% of the body.

Large, Solid Build.  As mentioned before, the large Turkish Van is a cat that’s evolved for water. Their unique semi-long coat which is free of undercoat, not only makes them luxuriously soft, it makes them more waterproof than most cats and it dries quickly.

Their body too, makes swimming easier for a Turkish Van than it is for most cats. Muscular broad shoulders, wide chest, well-rounded rib cage, strong legs, and a top heavy body that pushes its center of gravity forward - all traits that help the Turkish Van paddle through the water with ease.

Amber Eyes, Blue Eyes, or One of Each. Okay. They’ve got the patterning, long hair, and a large, solid build – is there any other way to be sure the cat you’re looking at is a genuine Turkish Van? Check the eyes. They should be rounded, but drawn out slightly at the corners. They should be large and set at a slant, and lastly, they should come in only two colors – blue, amber, or one of each (odd-eyed).

Turkish Van Cats

Turkish Van

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What to Expect from a Turkish Van

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An Active Cat. As Animal Planet attests, “While you might be drawn to the Van for its fascination with water, you’ll fall in love with the breed for its other qualities.” While those looking for a lap cat to lounge and be admired will be disappointed, if you’re looking for a cat that loves to play, run, jump, and keep you laughing with their antics, the Van may be the perfect cat for you!  Keep them busy with approved activities to prevent them from amusing themselves with naughtier pursuits. Invest in a laser pointer, balls, catnip mice, and maybe even a kiddie pool. If you’re uncomfortable letting them roam, consider leash training to let them explore your yard. Keep them busy with approved activities to prevent them from amusing themselves with naughtier pursuits.

A Vocal Cat. Turkish Vans are chatty cat known to carry on conversation. They won’t hesitate to let you know they need something and when you get home, they’ll want to tell you all about their day.

An Loyal Cat. Like last week’s Feline 101 breed, the Abyssinian, the Turkish Van is passionately loyal to their favorite people - even if he doesn’t necessarily enjoy being picked up or made to do something that wasn’t his idea. These cats will follow their person through the house and wants to be a part of whatever they’re doing.  He will get along with other pets and children too, so long as they treat him like the boss he is. Given his rightful respect, the Turkish Van will thank you with lots of laughs and a devotion that is hard to beat.

Turkish Van Kittens

Turkish Van Kittens

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More Turkish Van Cats!!!

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Turkish Van

Turkish Van

Turkish Van

Turkish Van Cats

SOURCES

Animal Planet: Cat Breed Directory: Turkish Van

VetStreet: Turkish Van

The Cat Fanciers’ Association: Turkish Van Breed Profile

YouTube: Purring Turkish Van Kitten in Pool

YouTube: Turkish Van Cat At Play With Water

YouTube: Cute Cat Swimming

PHOTO CREDIT

Petfinder: “Diamond” -Harbor Human Society

Petfinder:“Bethany” – Hav-A-Hart Rescue, Inc.

Tambako the Jaguar@flickr

gadgetgirl@flickr

Stephen Urquhart@flickr

grabbingsand@flickr

Dab^-.-^Forg@flickr

Effervescing Elephant@flickr

joeventures@flickr

Pacificat Ragdolls@flickr

Jenn Lewald@flickr

anhshah@flickr

Shelale Turkish Vans.com

YpsiVans.com

TatVanCats.com

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1 Comment

  • I have a gorgeous Turkish Van. He has very dark brown ears and tail and a soft beige beanie pattern on the top of his head. The rest of his fur is a long silky white fur. His eyes are baby blue. His vet has told me several times he is the most handsome Turkish Van he has ever seen. Contrary to the article above Keecha IS a lap cat. If I'm sitting down he is in my lap. He sleeps up next to me at night and loves to climb up my leg all the way to my shoulder and he settles down and will go to sleep with his paws cupped over my shoulder. When he thinks it's time for me to wake up he presses his little cold wet nose to my cheek and believe me I wake up. True to his breed he is very vocal. I mimic his meow or sound he is making and we have a long conservation.rnHe is a great companion. I have cat proofed my back yard so he can't get out and I leave my back door open for him to go and come as he pleases. In one area of my yard I've let the cottonwood trees grow wild and I've let the prairie grass grow three feet high and that's his jungle. He will even get running and run right up a tree. Also, true to his breed he loves water. I dug a small pond in the yard with a stream and waterfall. He is in heaven in "his" yard. He's a sweetheart. I'd love to send a picture of him but I haven't seen a place on this sight to send one. Is there a place on this site for me to do that?

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