Turkish Van is a unique cat in many ways. Their unique and pristine white coat, is only marked with colours on the head and tail, and varies in length in winter and in summer. Impervious and dense, it also allows them to withstand the harsh weather and harsh climates of the mountainous regions of Turkey, from where they originated. Despite their elegance, this cat is more of an adventurer of gardens than of living rooms.
Key facts about the Turkish Van
Origins and history
The Turkish Van is a natural breed originating from the highlands of Lake Van in southeastern Turkey. The archaeological discoveries of Hittite jewels dating from 1600-1200 BCE, adorned with representations of cats with ringed tails, testify to the antiquity of their existence. Well known in Turkey, it was not until 1955 that the Van Kedisi was imported to Europe. It was the journalist Laura Lushington and photographer Sonia Halliday who brought back two Turkish Van kittens, which had been offered to them during their trip to Turkey. They worked for the recognition of the breed, which was recognised in 1969 by the “Governing Council of the Cat Fancy”, and later in 1985 by TICA in the United States, thanks to the efforts of Barbara and Jack Reak to promote the breed. Today, the Turkish Agricultural Institute protects the breed together with the Ankara Zoo.
Physical characteristics of the Turkish Van
Female : Between 10 and 12 in
Male : Between 10 and 12 in
They reach full maturity at around 3 years old.
Female : Between 11 and 13 lb
Male : Between 11 and 20 lb
There are two types of Turkish Van:
- Van Kedisi, which are totally white and quite rare
- Turkish Van which has a white body with coloured patches, for which all colours are allowed, except chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn. The most common colour is cream ginger colour on a pure white base.
Type of coat
The length of the coat varies with the seasons, except on the face where the hair is short at all times. In winter, the coat is mid-length and dense, with longer hair at the neck forming a filled-out collar, and a thick and fluffy tail. In the summer, the fur is almost short, and only a few parts of the body, such as the belly and tail, have mid-length hair.
Blue, aquamarine, golden yellow, dichroic eyes
The Van Kedisi has amber or golden eyes.
Medium to large in size, the Turkish Van has a long silhouette, a powerful body with a broad chest, the breed is well muscled with an average bone structure. The legs, average in length, are well muscled and end with rounded feet that have tufts of hair in between the toes. The tail is of average length compared to the body and carried in plume. The head is broad, in the shape of a triangle with softened outlines with a well drawn and rounded muzzle. The ears are medium to large in size, broad at the base and rounded at the ends. The eyes, big and expressive, are in the shape of peach stones and slightly inclined.
Good to know
The thick and unbreachable coat of the Turkish Van makes them resistant to rain, in fact instead of fearing water, they are known to be good swimmers.
Known to be affectionate and gentle, you won’t need to beg to stroke this cat.
Very lively and playful, they appreciate interactive games.
Usually in search of fun rather than calm.
Very intelligent, the Turkish Van is an ideal candidate for training. Train your cat to fetch and you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. Mental and physical exercise... Fun and exhausting!
Fearful / wary of strangers
Even though they love company, you must respect the time they need to get used to new people.
They can tolerate being alone but be warned of the damage they can cause, on purpose or not, when bored.
Behaviour of the Turkish Van
The Turkish Van is famous for being very chatty but their voices are neither powerful or disturbing.
Need for exercise / Sporty
These cats need regular exercise to use the energy they build up when resting.
Tendency to run away
Being very lively and curious, these cats have a taste for adventure. Be careful to keep windows and doors closed to stop your Turkish Van escaping.
Greedy / Gluttony
Their appetites match their liveliness. These cats love eating.
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Turkish Van and cats
As long as the two cats are well introduced, they should be able to live together quite happily.
Turkish Van and dogs
Playful, curious and dynamic, the Turkish Van can live happily with a dog as long as they are socialised with dogs as kittens and they have a place they can escape to if needed.
Turkish Van and children
Being so playful they love having a companion with whom they can play games. But it is important to teach children to respect cats and to understand their body language, such as signs of when they would like to rest.
Turkish Van and the elderly
Turbulent and active, the Turkish Van is not the best pet for someone looking for a relaxed cat.
On average, the price of a Turkish Van Kitten is between £300 and £460, the price often varies according to the lineage, the breeder, the age or even the sex. For the monthly budget, it will cost on average £35 / month to provide for their needs, offer a quality diet and ensure their good health.
During the spring moult, a daily brushing is recommended to clear off the dead hair and avoid the cat swallowing too much of it when grooming.
The spring moult is impressive. The Van Kedisi loses most of their mid-length fur which will be replaced by an almost short coat in summer.
Nutrition of the Turkish Van
A high quality diet that meets the energy needs of this cat is required.
Health of the Turkish Van
The Turkish Van has a life expectancy of 14 to 19 years.
Strong / robust
Their dense fur, changing with the season (longer in winter) means they have a great resistance to extreme temperatures, whether they be freezing or boiling.
Tendency to put on weight
These cats are unlikely to put on weight due to how active they are. However, diets must be adapted for more sedentary individuals.
The Turkish Van is famous for being a robust and healthy cat so there is no illness that is particular to the breed. However, they can develop the same diseases known to other domestic cats, including oral diseases.
Turkish Vans can only be bred amongst themselves, but two all-white parents should not be mated together as this can lead to deaf kittens.
Good names for a Turkish Van: Charles, Milk, Luke, Saphir