The Turkish semi-longhair cat is the oldest recorded domesticated semi-longhair and may be the ancestor of all the other northern hemisphere semi-longhair breeds. Turkish Vans are a rare and ancient breed that developed in central and southwest Asia, which today encompasses the countries of Iran, Iraq, southwest Soviet Union and eastern Turkey. "Van" is a common term in the region with lake Van roughly in the middle.
It was in 1955 that Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were travelling through Turkey, and noticed that the cats particularly around the area of Van in Eastern Turkey bore a remarkable resemblance to the traditional Angora type. These cats had the notable difference of a coat that was not pure white with auburn head markings and a faintly ringed auburn tail. Laura brought two unrelated cats back to Britain, and when they were mated they produced kittens bearing the same auburn markings thus proving that this was a natural breed. She registered the Van prefix and the Turkish Van Cat become an established breed.
The Turkish van carries the piebald gene which calls for a white, semi-longhaired cat with coloured markings restricted primarily to the head and tail. Turkish vans have a very unique cashmere-like texture to their coat that makes it water-resistant. An interesting feature of the Turkish van is that they are fascinated with water. They used lakes and streams to cool down in the hot summers of their native region and have been termed "the Swimming Cats" in their homeland.
The Turkish Van is a large, well-balanced, well-proportioned and agile cat with a strong appearance. Turkish Vans take three to five years to reach full maturity. They are a healthy breed, and extremely loving, intelligence and curious cats. With their endearing, dog like and loyal qualities, they make very rewarding companions. Owners of Turkish Vans cats find them more like dogs than cats and are enthralled with their capable skill and agility and exuberant affection.
The Turkish Van's coat is white or cream with auburn markings primarily on the head with a coloured tail. This is called the Van pattern. The other naturally occurring colours are black and white, blue and white or brown tabby and tortoiseshell. Their unique long, soft and silky nonmatting coat requires very little grooming. Hair length is generally longer in winter than summer. Eyes are large, oval and expressive and are found blue, amber or odd eyed with pink rims. Odd eyed means one blue eye and one amber eye.
Classic Turkish Van Cat Association Official site for Turkish Van Cats.
Turkish Van Club UK breed club for people interested in the Turkish Van.
The Longhaired Cat : An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet by Anna Sadler.
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