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Turkish Van Cat

In recent years one of the cats attracting people's attention in Turkey or in the world is a Van cat. Inquisitive and social, the Turkish Van is a excellent pure breed available to satisfy any cat lover. However, as required care has not been shown so far, they face loss of the species. The number of them has been decreasing day by day and the original breeds have been lost, while they were often seen in the region and almost each house had one in the past. Van cats are not only seen as a pet or hunter of rats and insects but also a friend and member of the family.

Turkish Van cat

History of Turkish Van Breed

When the Ark arrived at Mount Ararat some 5,000 years ago, Noah must have been a bit busy keeping the animals from stampeding in their eagerness to touch dry land. In the hustle and bustle, two white and red cats leaped into the water and swam ashore. When the flood receded, the cats set out for Lake Van, located about 75 miles to the south of Mount Ararat, where they have lived ever since.

This is a legend about the appearance of the Turkish Van cat, a naturally occurring breed that has inhabited the Lake Van region of Turkey and the bordering areas of Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Russia for Heaven knows how long.

The Turkish Van cats originate from the area surrounding Lake Van in Turkey and have been domesticated there for hundreds of years. 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 resemblence to the traditional Angora type. The most noticeable difference however was that the coat was not pure white, but had 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. It was at this point that Laura realised that this was a natural breed, and not man-made. She registered the Van prefix and the Turkish Van Cat had since become an established breed. They had gained official recognition and cats were exported to the US and Australia where they have also gained in popularity.

Turkish Van cat’s physics

Turkish Vans live for about twelve to fourteen years. They have about five kittens in a litter and their weigh is between 3 and 8.5kgs.

The Turkish Van are very solid cats with a broad chest. They have facial muscles which change as a reaction to anything happening. Muscle and skeleton form are controlled in an excellent way and that is why no matter the position they fall from they always fall on their feet.

Their head has a broad wedge shape, medium-length nose, prominent cheekbones, firm chin and large ears, that are in proportion to the body with slightly rounded tips. The ears are set fairly high on the head and close together. The eyes are moderately large and expressive. One of the characteristics of Van cats is the colour of their eyes. They may have both blue eyes, both amber or one eye blue and the other amber.

The body of Turkish Van cat is sturdy, broad, muscular and deep-chested. Her legs are medium in length with five in front and four behind toes. The tail has a full brush and balances the body in length.

The coat is semi long and feels like cashmere. Most people think of Turkey as being a hot country and the Van cat with her profuse coat, tufted feet and ears would seem to be ill equipped to cope with a hot climate. The Van basin in eastern Turkey is surrounded by mountains, and its high plateau is subject to changes in temperature difficult to imagine. In summer 36° or even 40° is not unusual, and in the winter temperatures vary between -13° in the towns to -35° on the high ground. The silky texture of the coat of Turkish Van makes it an ideal insulating material, while the long tufts of fine hair help to protect the delicate pink skin of the inner ear from driving snow and freezing winds. The tufts of hair on the underside of the feet protect the pads from frozen ground and snow, and the muscular body is ideally suited to withstand the changeable and often harsh climate.

The body of the cat is predominately chalk white with color on tail and head. One or more random markings, up to color on 20% of the entire body, are permissible. The red colour is restricted to areas around the ears and on the tail - known as the Van pattern. Some have small body color spots.

Pregnancy period is 62 days. The belly starts to swallow from the first month and the cat never lets any one touch her belly. Van cats like other cats prefer to give birth in the locations far away from vision, and for this reason they start to look for isolated and dark location from the first month of the pregnancy.

Behavior of Turkish Van cats

The hunting characteristic of Van cats is superior. They hunt rats, mice, bird, flies and insects indoor and outdoor, and eat them. They never attack to poultry animals living with them in the house or out of the house.

The Turkish Van cats do not want other cats to come to their living areas, over which they have a strong control. If their living places or houses are changed, they try to return to former place if they do not like the new one. Van cats get used to their new living places in 20 to 30 days. During this period, they examine the surrounding and are not interested in their owners.

The studies indicated that Turkish Van cats respond to training very well. They understand what have been taught very quickly, and the kittens are able to learn their names when they are 2-3 months. However, it is thought that this learning is understanding the tone of the sound they are used to rather than learning the names.

Van cats are very affectionate, giving head butts and love bites. Especially during pregnancy they are in need of love. They are very close to their owners and love them. They are jealous of their owners showing affection to other cats and small kids.

Van cats check the meal if it is warm with their front paws and if the meal is warm enough they eat. It is also observed that Van cats eat melon, watermelon and some fruit.

When the food is given, they show their grates by means of touching their owner. When they need toilet they go to the door and meow in order to ask their owners to open the door. It is also observed that if the door needs to be opened, they jump to the handle and open it.

Turkish Van’s character and temperament

The most amazing characteristic of the Turkish Van cat is her affinity to water. She not only likes water but also actually enjoys a swim. The likely explanation for the Van's interest in swimming lies in the extreme temperatures in her native region. Since summer temperatures reach well above 1000F (37.80C), the cats may have learned to swim to survive.

They are loyal, loving and very intelligent cats. Their temperament depends greatly on their upbringing, the amount of human contact and handling they received as a kitten, and the temperament of the mother herself. If they do not have relation with human beings or have a little relationship, they start to become wild.

The Van cats like to be involved in everything their owners do and follow them around like a dog. In fact some people have said that Turkish Vans are more like dogs than cats. They meow loudly when they see their owners in the morning in order to show their happiness. But when they are hungry, they go to the kitchen door and meows to indicate that they are hungry.

Of course, as with all things in life there are a few downsides. Turkish Van have been known to wreak havoc, such as shredding curtains, knocking ornaments and plants off shelves, mantelpieces and kitchen surfaces etc., sometimes this is quite deliberate! Also they have the ability to open doors, especially cupboards etc. and don't think twice about knocking the contents onto the floor.

Turkish Van Care

This breed has a hearty appetite, with no special dietary requirements. Because the Turkish Van is an active cat, she will require approximately 80 Kcals of food per kg of bodyweight per day.

A Van's coat takes quite a bit of effort to get it looking its best, but the result is worth it. It is best to grooming on a daily basis as this avoids major tangles and matts. If grooming with a comb and brush is introduced at an early age the cat will soon become used to it and many potential problems will be avoided. Although their affinity with water, it is best to start bath the Van’s coat at an early age.  [Learn more ..]