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Harper Jefcoat

Turkish Van - Full Breed Profile With History

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10 min read

turkish van

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  • Turkish Van Origin & History
  • Turkish Van Physical Attributes
  • Turkish Van Personality & Temperament

Turkish van is one of the ancient, unique, and rare cat breeds of domestic cats developed in Turkey. She is a natural breed, originated from the remote, rugged, and climatically varied region of the Middle East. This unique breed is the result of selected cats obtained from different cities of Turkey.

This breed is known for its unique and distinctive pattern termed as ‘Van Marking’. The term ‘Van Marking’ was coined to describe various white-body cat breeds with colored head and tail marking. The color marking is restricted to the head and tail, and the rest of the body is white. This color pattern is due to the expression of the piebald white spotting gene, a type of leucism.

The Turkish van is a semi-longhaired cat breed having a solid build and great chest breadth. The power or strength is shown in the muscular legs and body. They usually have odd-colored eyes, which can be blue or amber. These cats take almost three to five years to reach their full maturity and development.

This breed has been claimed to be descendent from the all-white Van Cats known as Landrace, usually found near Lake Van. In the beginning, they were known and recognized as Turkish Cats. The UK-based Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) first recognized this breed as ‘Turkish Cat’ in 1696.

Later, the breed was renamed ‘Turkish Van’ to distinguish these cats from the ‘Turkish Angora’ cat breed. However, some organizations have used the term ‘Turkish Vankedisi’ as a name for all-white specimens of the formal Turkish Van breed.

This rare and ancient breed is a unique-looking but loving cat that can make an excellent companion for you and your whole family. Here are the general characteristics of the Turkish Van cat breed.

Turkish Van Origin & History

The Turkish van is a rare cat breed that dates back to ancient times. They took the name ‘Turkish van’ from Lake Van, located in Anatolian, the mountainous region of eastern Turkey. This breed may have existed there for centuries and probably protected by her isolation from the rest of the world. Historical records show that this breed existed for nearly five thousand years, making its home in the mountainous region of central and southwest Asia.

However, according to Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the name is derived from the term ‘Van’ used in its countries of origin, including Turkey, the Soviet Union, Iran, and Iraq. ‘Van’ is a common term given to various lakes, villages, and towns in the region of her origin. ‘Turkish Van’ name is also given to this breed to avoid confusion with the Turkish Angora cat breed. This breed is a treasured breed in her native Turkey, especially those with small colored markings on necks, called the “Thumbprint of Allah”.

In the mid-1950s, two British photographers Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday, discovered son ‘Van Patterned’ cats during their trip to Turkey. The photographers decided to bring them home and were amazed to see them take to ponds and lakes for a swim whenever they stop for a rest. Lushington and Halliday carefully bred these cats and have taken care to preserve them.

According to Lushington, her original imported cats were all descendants of the Van cat came from Hatay Province, Iskenderun. In 1955, a hotel manager in Istanbul gifted these two cats to the photographers: a female named Van Iskenderun Guzelli and a male Stambul Byzantium. In 1959, two more additions came to the gene pool: a female Antalya Anatolia from Antalya city and a male Burdur from Burdur city.

In 1982, Turkish Van was brought to the United States, where she got accepted to be presented in the championship show in the CFA. Since then, no breed is allowed to be mixed into the breeding schedule, so no human breeding intervention is in this breed development. All CFA registered cats can trace their ancestry back to imported Van cats of Lushington and Halliday.

The International Cat Association (ICA) began to recognize this breed in 1979. Since then, the breed began to receive club recognization from various other cat fanciers organizations and clubs, charming its way into the hearts of cat lovers worldwide. Turkish van is recognized by the Australia Cat Federation (ACF), Cat Aficionado Association (CAA), and Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe). In 1985, championship status was given to the breed by The International Cat Association (TICA).

Even after being recognized by major clubs, this breed is still rare and difficult to locate. However, if you get a chance to share a home with this beloved feline, you’ll receive loyal companionship, love, and a playful friend.

Turkish Van Physical Attributes

Turkish van is a semi-longhaired cat breed having three distinctive coat hair types; down hair, awn hair, and guard hair. These cats do not have an undercoat giving their coat a sleek look and making it feel like cashmere or rabbit fur. The unique coat is usually water-resistant, making it difficult to bathe the breed as the coat dries quickly.

However, this breed is one of the larger cat breeds with an ideal body type that features broad shoulders with a ‘top-heavy’ body. These cats are moderately long, with slightly longer back legs than front legs but proportionate to the body. They are muscular and large and can reach 20 pounds weight when fully matured.

Moreover, they have larger paws and rippling hard muscle structures, making them strong jumpers and climbers. They can easily hit the top of the refrigerator or bookcase from the floor and reach any height they want. They are eager to find a high place from where they can see everything going on in the world.

The table given below will provide you a complete description of the Turkish van cat breed’s physical characteristics.

  • Red, cream, black, blue
  • Red-tabby, cream-tabby, brown tabby, blue tabby
  • Brown patched tabby, blue patched tabby
  • Tortoiseshell, dilute tortoiseshell
  • Semi long with cashmere-like texture
  • Soft to the root with no undercoat
  • Two distinct coat lengths; long and short
  • Short facial fur
  • Moderately large
  • Set fairly high and well apart
  • Rounded tips
  • Moderately large
  • Rounded aperture
  • Alert and expressive
  • Muscular
  • Moderately long
  • Moderately rounded
  • Proportionate to the body
  • Toes, five in front, four behind
  • Deep-chested, muscular, sturdy, broad
  • Moderately long
  • Well-rounded ribcage
  • Muscular hip and pelvic area
  • Substantially broad wedge
  • Medium length nose
  • Prominent cheekbones
  • Firm chin
  • Rounded muzzle
  • Long
  • Proportionate to the body
  • Brush appearance

Turkish Van Personality & Temperament

The Turkish van is known for its loving and affectionate nature. Though early bloodlines tended to be aggressive, the modern breed is generally friendly, social, and attractive towards people. They tend to develop a strong bond with their owner and all family members. They are not just friendly with their owner, but other pets in the house and even kids.

However, they prefer other cats to be of the same kind but get along with every cat breed and cat-friendly dogs as well. They are highly intelligent, agile, energetic, and extremely healthy cat breed. Due to their action-packed temperament, you may need a few months of exercise to keep up with them. They are lively and playful and love to play fetch games, and usually bring a toy to thier owner to initiate the game.

Her tail seems to have its own personality. Most cats flick their tail when they are upset, alone, or sad, but Van’s tail is in constant motion even when she is happy. Moreover, they are thought to be a good problem solver which you’ll observe while playing with her. You need to keep her interested in life by teaching different tricks and puzzle toys to challenge her brain.

They are talkative, demand a lot of human attention, and become deeply attached to their preferred people. They pick out one to two people in the house and make a strong bond with them. This behavior makes it challenging to transfer her from one place to another.

Moreover, they are famous as “swimming cats” due to their love and unusual fascination with water. Water fountains are a big hit for them; you’ll see them sitting in front of the fountain and staring in fascination for hours. They love to get a dip in the bathtub, sink, pool, even in the toilet, which is why you always need to keep the lid down. They can get into trouble with this fascination, so you have to be careful about allowing unsupervised access to water.

Some van may not enjoy swimming or jump into the water, but they are still fascinated by it. They would love to dip their toys in water dishes and play in dripping faucets. As they are very intelligent, they might learn to turn on and off faucets.

This mischievous cat is highly acrobatic and can catch toys in mid-air, and have a lot of energy to run and play. They turn fantastic somersaults in pursuit of a fishing pole toy. They would love to help you out with the household chore and follow you around the house. But if you do not see them anywhere around, they must be experimenting with the kitchen or bathroom faucet so that they can play with running water.

A perfect family for Van is the one who has a lot of time and love to share their fur baby. Though they can get along with everyone, you’ll want to have a meet and greet before bringing them into a family with young kids and pets. In the beginning, these cats should not be left unsupervised.

Though they are loving cats, they are still not very tolerant of people trying to pet them or tugging at their tails. They also like to cuddle and be held by people but on their own terms and not for a long period. So do not get a Van if you want a lap cat who likes to be cuddled a lot.

Interesting Facts About Turkish Van Cat Breed

Turkish Van Care & Grooming

Social and lively, the Van cats need plenty of exercises, mental stimulation, and playtime to thrive. These cats can get themselves into trouble with a particular fondness for knocking things off tables and shelves. These cats are not known for being floor cats, as they prefer to be on top of everything.

High energy paired with the affection of high places and water makes the Van a bit careless, which gets them into mischief at times. Keep plenty of toys around the house to take Van away from the valuable things and onto the mouse.

This furball feline may look high maintenance but is actually low maintenance and required little grooming and care. Her single coat is easy to care for that does not require regular bathing. Although they love to play with water, a bath is still not their idea of a good time. Their love of swimming does not translate into a love of taking baths.

In that sense, Van is similar to other cats, which makes bath time difficult. However, they rarely need a bath but a little more frequent care in winter due to being heavier in the winter season. Rest is basic care.

Maintain a regular hygiene routine that includes combing, teeth brushing, and claw trimming. Regularly brush her teeth and clean her jaws with vet-approved toothpaste for fresh breath and overall dental health. Run a comb through the coat every week or so to prevent matting.

Turkish Van Health Issues

All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, so is the Turkish Van. However, these cats are generally healthy and do not have any specific health issues. But, some have developed a heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

Moreover, the following health problems a Turkish Van can be prone to. Not all cats can inherit these diseases, and maybe not all cats are safe from these problems. However, knowing the particular Van’s health problems can help you keep her protected and safe from illness.

Here is a list of general health issues a Turkish Van can inherit:

  • Dental diseases
  • Congenital Vertebral Malformations
  • Bacterial and viral infection
  • Arterial Thromboembolism
  • Heart disease
  • Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI)/Hemolytic Icterus

These are some of the medical issues a Van can experience in her lifetime. Take care of your feline and provide her with healthy food and love. Give her attention and affection as much as she gives to you. If you need an emotional support cat, make a Van your top priority.

Get your ESA letter and enjoy the amazing company of this unique and rare furball feline.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Turkish Van cats expensive?

FAQ Icon

No, Turkish Van cats are not very expensive as other cat breeds. The average cost of a Turkish van range between $500 to $800. However, if you adopt a Turkish van, you may have to pay much less than that, which is around $75 to $150.

How do I know if my cat is a Turkish Van?

FAQ Icon

The Turkish van is an entirely white body cat with color patches on the head and tail. Her tail has a brush-like appearance. She may have a brown, black, grey, red, or brown tip of the tail that contrasts with the white body.

Are Turkish Vans smart?

FAQ Icon

Yes, Turkish Van cats are very smart and intelligent. They can quickly learn tricks and games and be active in playing and exercise. You can teach her anything with positive reinforcement.

Do Turkish Vans shed?

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No, the Turkish van cat breed doesn’t shed, but they change their coat according to seasons. In summer, they have a shorter hair coat, and in winter, they have a relatively long coat.

What is the difference between a Turkish Van and a Turkish Angora?

FAQ Icon

Turkish Angora cats are a long-haired cat breed that is usually white but comes in various other colors. They have blue eyes, and a genetic component frequently renders these cats deaf. However, the Turkish Van cats are semi-longhaired cat breed having predominantly white bodies with colored patches on the head and tail.


Harper Jefcoat


Harper Jefcoat

Harper Jefcoat is a dedicated pet enthusiast and esteemed author at RealESALetter.com. With a profound passion for animals, Harper combines extensive knowledge and personal experience to provide insightful and informative content. Specializing in canine behavior and wellness, he strives to empower pet owners with the tools and understanding they need to nurture and care for their furry friends effectively. Harper’s writings reflect his commitment to enhancing the lives of pets and their owners, making him a trusted voice in the pet community.

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