Van Cat Breed
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.
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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