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What is a Turkish Van?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The Turkish Van is a rare cat breed which originates from the Lake Van area of Turkey. These cats have become famous for their unusual behavior around water: unlike many cat breeds, Turkish Vans actually like water, and some of these cats even enjoy swimming. In Turkey, the Turkish Van is a protected breed, and there are several breeding programs dedicated to preservation of the Turkish Van. Outside of Turkey, Turkish Vans can sometimes be obtained from cat breeders, although they tend to be rather costly.

This cat breed is believed to be quite ancient. Certainly Turkish Vans were around during the period of the Crusades, because Crusaders actually brought some back with them to Europe. Turkish Vans are also discussed in contemporary writings and depicted in various works of art. According to legend, the breed was born when two cats abandoned Noah's Ark, deciding to swim to dry land rather than staying on the ship any longer.

Several traits distinguish the Van breed. These cats tend to be quite large and extremely muscular, and they are known for their strength and agility. They also have a very unusual pattern of markings which is known as a Van pattern, as Turkish Vans appear to be the first cats to have developed it. Vans have markings on their heads and tails only, with white bodies, and the result is a very distinctive appearance. The colors of the markings vary; red, orange, brown, black, and “blue,” a kind of smoky gray, are very common.

The eyes of a purebred Turkish Van may be amber, blue, or odd, meaning that each eye is a different color. In Muslim countries, Turkish Vans with a small marking between their shoulders are said to have the Mark of Allah, and this mark is considered extremely lucky. Given that cats in general are already beloved in Muslim culture, these fortunate cats are lucky indeed. Many Vans are extremely intelligent, good natured, and very friendly, and they tend to be sociable cats who sometimes have a humorous streak.

The coat of the Turkish Van is also quite distinctive. Unlike other cats, Turkish Vans lack an undercoat. They have only one type of medium-length hair, causing them to be extremely soft, almost like cashmere. Their coats are also naturally water resistant, allowing the cats to dry quickly after a swim.

Because of their rarity, Turkish Vans are often highly prized. These cats were introduced to England in 1955, and to the United States even later, in 1982. Turkish Vans are recognized by several registries of cat breeds around the world, and the genetic stock of the breed is quite diverse, thanks to exchange programs with Turkey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is unique about the Turkish Van cat breed?

The Turkish Van is renowned for its love of water, which is highly unusual among cats. This breed is often referred to as the "swimming cat" due to its propensity to play in and enjoy water. They have a distinctive coat pattern called "Van pattern," where color is restricted to the head and tail, with the rest of the body being white.

How did the Turkish Van get its name?

The Turkish Van is named after the Lake Van region in eastern Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. This ancient breed has been domesticated in the area for centuries, and its name reflects its strong historical ties to the region.

What are the personality traits of a Turkish Van cat?

Turkish Vans are known for their energetic and playful nature. They are intelligent, curious, and enjoy interactive play with their human companions. This breed is also affectionate and loyal, often forming strong bonds with their families. However, they can be independent at times and may prefer not to be held for long periods.

Is the Turkish Van cat breed suitable for families with children?

Yes, Turkish Vans can be great pets for families with children. Their playful and robust nature makes them well-suited to the energy levels of kids. They are known to be patient and can interact well with respectful children, making them a delightful addition to active households.

What type of coat does a Turkish Van have, and how do you care for it?

The Turkish Van has a semi-long, water-resistant coat that is soft and lacks an undercoat, which makes it less prone to matting. Their coat requires less grooming than other long-haired breeds, but regular brushing is recommended to remove loose hair and maintain coat health, especially during seasonal shedding periods.

Are Turkish Van cats rare, and how can I adopt one?

Yes, Turkish Vans are considered a rare breed. Those interested in adopting one should research reputable breeders or check with breed-specific rescues. It's important to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and provides health clearances for their cats. Adoption from a rescue is also a wonderful option for giving a cat a second chance at a loving home.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
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