Also called Van Cat, the Turkish Van Cat is quite popular for a plethora of reasons. The kitty comes with numerous character traits that distinguish it as a unique and uncommon breed. From the cat’s exclusive personality to its spectacular coat as well as its natural propensity to submerge itself in water just to have a swim, the kitty is quite the entertainer. While all breeds of the feline population have one form of individuality or the other, there is none close in uniqueness to the Van Cat. In fact, several reasons exist why you should make this amusing kitty a member of your family.
History of the Turkish Van Cat
The Turkish Van Cat was first seen in the Lake Van area of Turkey and its vicinity and has been there for centuries, but it is not clear when the Van began living in the region. However, archeological digs around Van consisting of drawings, ornaments, jewelry, and carvings, dating back to 5000 years in the least bear the likeness of a cat closely resembling the Van with its semi-longhaired coat and ringed tail.
It is also possible to determine the cat’s length of stay in the area by how comfortably well it has adapted to Eastern Turkey’s seasonal climate, especially with the Lake Van situated in that region as well as its rugged mountainous topography. The area sits at least 5,600 ft above sea level, coupled with its extended, frosty winter seasons, and reasonably hot summers. The adaptation efforts of the Van are evident in its full and thick coat of fur which flourishes during the winter and the subsequent shedding that follows during the summer. It is presumed that the Van adapted this character trait in order to be able to swim and cool off.
General belief points to the fact that the cat came into Europe between A.D 1095 and 1272. Brought originally by soldiers coming back from the crusades and passed via the Eastern continent, and through the effort of invaders, explorers as well as traders. As time rolled by, the breed acquired a plethora of names including Turkish, Eastern Cat, Russian Longhair, and Ringtail Cat.
In 1955 a couple of English photographers Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington who were on assignment for the Ministry of Tourism in Turkey went home with gifts of two unrelated Vans which were taken home by Lushington and allowed to mate. The resultant litter was quite identical to both parents with a white body, head markings, and dark tail. Upon the realization that she had pure breeds on her hands, Lushington proceeded with a breeding project with the hope of earning the recognition of the British Cat Fancy Organizations. She later made a return journey to Turkey in search of a second pair as she had a plan of breeding three clear generations to standard.
Lushington remained steadfast to her ideal of perfection with regards to the Van’s bloodline, and restricted her breeding project within the stock of genuine Turkish Van, and was adamant in her refusal to outcross to any other breeds, in so doing; she was able to preserve the character trait the Van had borne through hundreds of its generations. Lushington paid little heed to the expected conformation of the breed to already existing standard, according to her; the Turkish Van came with her own established standard which needs to be preserved. She began to see results in 1969 when the Cat Fancy’s Governing Council gave the breed a full pedigree status.
1970s saw the importation of the Turkish Van into America and starting from 1883, a couple of breeders in Florida namely Barbara and Jack Reark set to work on popularizing the breed. Subsequently, the cat earned championship status from the International Cat Association in 1985. The breed was accepted for listing in the miscellaneous class by the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association), with provisional status following in 1993 as well as Championship status which it earned in 1994. During that first year, a quartet of Turkish Van Cats achieved the grand title.
Quick Facts About the Turkish Van Cat
- Due to the fact that the cat does not attain maturity until it gets to three to five years, the coat tends to fill in as it matures. Its cashmere-like coat is quite lush, requiring little grooming. The coat of the newborn kitten and the ones that are still in the process of growth are not as developed as the adults. The cat’s coat may appear shorted in summer but blooms during the winter when it becomes thicker and longer.
- This breed of feline comes with remarkable markings that are referred to as the Van pattern. The pattern majorly consists of white with the tail and face coming in different colors; in some cats, the color pattern affects the meeting point of the shoulder blades. The color pattern often comes in brown and red, and they are the resultant effect of what is known as the piebald gene, a personality trait seen in both humans and animals and is realized as huge unpigmented areas, giving rise to a body that is majorly white.
- The colors to expect in your Turkish Van Cat are cream, red, blue, black, a mixture of cream, brown and blue, tabby in red, as well as different shades the tortoiseshell. The paw pads and nose leather come in pink but can have some color spots.
- Their tail is rather bushy and comparable to that of a squirrel.
- Complementing its uncommon coat markings are a couple of moderately large and rounded eyes. The Turkish Van Cat may be an odd-eyed cat with eyes of distinct colors. The eyes may be realized as two ambers, two blue or as one amber and one blue.
- The feline’s head is broad, wedge-shaped with its muzzle very well rounded. The ears are a bit large with the tips slightly rounded.
- As a kitty created to thrive in rugged climate and landscape, the Turkish Van Cat is equipped with a strong and powerful physique with broad shoulders, broad chest as well as muscular legs. The males come bigger and more muscular relative to their female counterparts.
- The breed is quite energetic with a little genetic predisposition to health issues.
- They do not hesitate to display their athletic skills on both land and water. While most of their counterpart would take off upon sighting water, the Van has proved that it has remarkable capabilities as a swimmer which has earned it the alias “The Swimming Cat”
- The reason behind the cat’s prowess in water is their unique soft coat which is water-resistant by nature, thanks to its silky texture as well as its lack of undercoat. The cat has a close affinity to water and has the capacity to swim for a long time and still emerges dry. They are not averse to taking a dip in your bathtub or toilet sit, so keep a closer watch.
- The Turkish Van Cat is always getting into trouble because of its love for the water, so when you are not around to watch out for the cat’s aquatic escapades, be sure to conceal the swimming pool area, put the toilet seat down, cover the spa as well as the bathtub. Another area to secure is your faucet which you will constantly find dripping as the kitty finds it quite easy to turn them so as to have a drink or sometimes have a swell time in the sink. The Van loves lying in the water, especially when the weather turns hot.
- The feline is known to be social and lively, a highly intelligent kitty that needs to be exercised regularly. They are fast learners, mastering games, and tricks in no time at all. Introduce some teaser toys that make them imitate pouncing on prey.
- The cat is known to enjoy playtime and is a mischief-maker prone to knocking things off tables, shelves and any high surface.
- Now the Turkish Van Cat is never a floor kitty as it prefers to be on top of everything, watching the goings-on from a great height. To distract the cat from your valuables, you have to position some DIY cat toys around the house. Anytime your Van goes missing; you only have to look up to see her position.
- When a Turkish Van Cat is socialized properly as a kitten, it has an affectionate predisposition, and thus develops a strong attachment to the family that adopts it. The cat also tends to have a favorite among the adoptive family
- Though the cat comes across as athletic and playful, a trait which she maintains until old age, it cannot be described as graceful. The feline is quite huge as well as ungainly and is one kitty that is averse to landing on its feet.
- The Turkish Van cat is also averse to traveling no matter how short the distance may be. Trips to the vet’s clinic often result in peeing, vomiting, or pooping in the conveyance. The cat is simply susceptible to car sickness.
- At maturity, the cat can weigh as much as 18 pounds.
Things You Should Know About the Turkish Van Cat
The van breed has been found to be susceptible to quite a few health conditions. Their most common disease is referred to as NI or Neonatal Isoerythrolysis; this they owe to the surplus quantity of blood running through their arteries and veins. The disease is usually transferred from mother to kitten during breastfeeding. A couple of studies involving the Van; One with 85 cats and the other with 78 cats revealed 60%of the 85 to be carrying the type B blood while 57.7% of the 78 had a similar result, thus, it is recommended that breeders first check the Van’s blood before selecting their breeding pairs.
If you delay in taking your Turkish Van Cat that is showing signs of NI to the vet, the result is that it will start deteriorating slowly. The only preventable measure is to check the cat’s blood before buying to rule out the possible occurrence of NI. Ensure to make your purchase from any breeder known to health-tests all kitten’s parents.
Most Turkish Van Cats are born as odd-eyed cats with eyes that come in two different colors; one might come in a spectacular hue of blue while the other may be realized in a stunning shade of amber.
The breed is also prone to eye problems which occur when pigments are prevented from getting to one of the eyes by genetics. The resultant effect of this is usually two different eye colors. However, studies have speculated that the Van cat’s eye coloration may be connected to the blood serum elements. While a few cases of this have led to blindness in the Van, it is quite rare.
Life expectancy for this amusingly beautiful cat is between twelve and fourteen years, given proper care as well as diet.
When it comes to feeding, the cat is not unlike other breeds of feline who thrive on healthy cat food. However, you have to ensure that it consumes a sufficient quantity of animal protein which is very important to their development process. Besides, the cat is a skilled hunter that is not averse to hunting down whole prey to have as lunch or dinner.
The Turkish Van Cats love for swimming is not synonymous to a corresponding love for bathing. They are just the same as other breeds of feline as they have the tendency to make bath time as difficult as possible. Though it is quite fortunate that the cat’s coat does not call for regular baths.
Cat parents should be conscious of Periodontal disease and endeavor to brush their feline companion’s teeth on a daily basis, which is the best bet. However, those who find it difficult to achieve a daily dental cleaning will have to resort to weekly cleaning, and that is still considered better than not doing it at all. The nails should be trimmed as at when due, but bi-weekly is recommended, discharge from the corners of your kitty’s eyes should be wiped with a soft, moist cloth and to avoid the risk of infections, separate areas of the cloth should be used for each eye.
Weekly checks should be conducted on the ears and when you feel that they are dirty, use cotton buds on them or better still, use a soft cloth, moistened with a 50-50 mixture of water and cider vinegar. Cotton swabs have the capacity to cause damage to the cat’s inner ear, so avoid them.
The litter box should be properly taken care of with regular cleaning as the feline population is known to take their bathroom hygiene seriously. Besides, a clean litter box makes for a clean coat. Keep your Turkish Van indoors to avoid diseases, attacks by coyotes and dogs, being hit by moving vehicles and theft.
The fur of the Turkish Van Cat is water resistance and comes with a silky texture that is comparable to cashmere. Because the coat is single, tangles are not a problem associated with the breed, since the under-coat that gives rise to matting is noticeably absent. As a result of all these unique features, the Van is quite easy to groom; all you need to do is to brush or comb its fur on a weekly basis with the aid of a slicker brush. The kitty’s luxuriant coat which is the first thing you will notice about the breed sheds very sparingly with the exception of the fall and spring when the old coat is replaced by new a new one. As the Van gets older, self-grooming becomes quite difficult; thus, it is recommended that you increase the brushing time as the cat advances in age. Because of the water-resistant nature of its fur, baths are not really necessary, and the lack of undercoat takes care of the problem of matting; however, the brush can come out during bonding time as the Turkish Van Cat is one breed of feline that does not call for much grooming.
Prospective cat parents who are on the lookout for the calm and cuddly lap kitty should stay well away from the Turkish Van Cat. The cat is best suited for pet owners who need a veritable livewire feline that has the natural propensity to play numerous games, race all over the house, leap onto the highest of surfaces, and enjoy some cooling time in the pool. The truth is that the Van is averse to being restrained, held as well as cuddled, even during the cat shows, there is a standing rule that says that that, the Turkish Van Cat should not be held up, rather, they should be exhibited on tabletops.
Those that find it difficult to gauge how the kitty is feeling should take a close look at the feline’s Vanometer (the shell-pink nose) which turns scarlet red when the kitty is upset, once you notice the crimson sign, leave the cat alone. The Van may not be a lap cat, but sometimes, it creeps into your bet to sleep cuddled next to you. The breed is known to be on the talkative side as they are noticeable vocal, giving their owners directions on how they want to be treated.