The Turkish Van: an intelligent cat with a curious character

Turkish Van sitting outside

The Turkish Van is a relatively rare cat breed (in the Western World) with a rich history. Not only the appearance of this cat stands out, but also the personality of this breed is characteristic. This makes the Turkish Van a unique breed. This cat is not to be found everywhere in the world. Especially in the southwest of Asia this breed is very common. Want to know more about this cat? Below we tell you everything you need to know about the Turkish Van.


The origin: this old cat breed comes from Southwest Asia

With a name like the Turkish Van, it seems logical to deduce that this cat breed originates from Turkey. This is true, but it is not the whole story. This species is also common in countries like Iran, Iraq and even in parts of Russia. According to the old stories, this breed was first brought to Europe by the crusaders. They had participated in The Crusades, a religious war that had taken place between 1096 and 1271.

The Turkish Van is also known as the white ring tail and the Russian long-haired cat. Sometimes it is thought that the Turkish Van is a variation of the Turkish Angora, but that is not true. These two breeds originate from completely different regions and differ from each other on various fronts.

Thus, since the 13th century, the Turkish Van has been found in Europe, but in the Western World this breed is not very common at all. Before the 20th century this breed was almost disappeared from Europe. However, you could often encounter this breed in Southwest Asian countries such as Turkey, Iran, Iraq and parts of Russia. The name ‘Van’ is inspired by the various places and villages in these regions that carry this name. In addition, these cats were also often found near the lake the Van. That’s why the people from this region started to call this breed the Van-cat.

From the middle of the 20th century several rare breeds came back to Europe and America thanks to the rapid development of aviation. Thus, the Turkish Van from 1955 back in Europe and from 1982 in America. Cat lovers discovered breeds that they thought had been lost, including the Turkish Van. This breed has been able to develop in Turkey and other Southwest Asia in its own natural way for centuries. This explains why it is still a strong cat breed.


The character: an intelligent and curious cat

The Turkish Van belongs to the smarter cat breeds of today. By nature, this breed is also very curious. They like to go on adventures and need stimulation in the form of brain games. If you like to take care of your cat and are looking for a cat with a completely unique personality, then the Turkish Van is the perfect companion for you.

The Turkish Van takes about 3 to 5 years to grow up. The more you keep stimulating them intellectually at a young age, the smarter this cat is at adulthood. By nature, this breed is independent. They are not cats that want to be cuddled on your lap for a long time. They are too active for that.


Infographic Turkish Van

Appearance: a big cat with a muscular build

The Turkish Van has developed in a natural way, there is no breeder involved. This results in a unique breed on several fronts. Also, in the area of appearance. The Turkish Van belongs to the big cats. This breed is quite muscular, partly because they like to be active. This species belongs to the more athletic breeds.

The head of this kitten is relatively firm, broad and wedge-shaped. The muzzle is rounded and also the cheekbones are fully defined. The head of this cat has a long nose and large pointed ears that are relatively close together. Also, the eyes of this cat are relatively large. The eyes have an oval shape.

Males weigh on average between 4.08 and 9.1 kg. Cats weigh on average between 3.17 and 5.45 kg. A Turkish Van has four sturdy legs. Considering how athletic this breed is, this is not surprising. Especially the hind legs are very strong. This allows them to set themselves off well and jump quite high. Jumps this cat off your desk, then the papers fly around. That’s how strong their hind legs are.

The broad shoulders and chest of the Turkish Van should be at least as wide as the head. Most Turkish Van cats are born with blue eyes. Usually, the colors of the eyes change to a darker variant of blue or an amber color. It can happen that the colors of both eyes are not the same. This can be an eye with a blue color and an eye with an amber color, but also two different shades of blue eyes occur.


The coat color and coat patterns: no undercoat

The hair of the coat of a Turkish Van is semi-long. The Turkish Van has no undercoat. Because of this, their coat is very soft, and it is wonderful to pet these cats. It is almost a pity that they are not lap cats, because their fur can be characterized as silky soft. Their coat is water repellent and gets thicker in winter. These cats can still develop an undercoat after they have been neutered.

It is often wrongly assumed that the Turkish Van is a white cat. You can better characterize this cat as a colored cat with big white spots. Because of this, white is the dominant color of the cat. The Piebald gene is responsible for this.1 There are Turkish Van cats that are completely white colored, but this is exceptional. Colored spots can occur randomly on their bodies. It is noticeable that these spots can almost always be found on their head and tail. These spots can have the following colors:

·       Red

·       Cream

·       Black

·       Orange

·       Blue

These places are also called the Van Markings. The spots may have a turtle-like pattern. This means that there is a mix of two colours. In America there are rules about the amount of coloured patches on a cat. If the coat of a cat consists for less than 15% of coloured areas around the head and the state, then in America there is officially a Turkish Van.

If the cat has a spot on the back of their neck, this spot is also called the thumbprint of God. According to old stories there were two ancestors of the Turkish Van cats present on Noah’s Ark. In addition, a stain between the ears is called the sign of Allah. That is why this cat breed is treated with great respect in Turkey. Turkish Van lying down

The upbringing: much attention and regular play

It is important for every breed of cat to be able to get along well with people. You will get people over and over on a regular basis, and it is good that a cat gets used to this. A cat also needs to get used to human touch. By this we don’t just mean stroking, but also the touches that are necessary to groom your cat. A good example of this is cutting your kitten’s nails.

You can prevent a lot of anxiety and stress in a cat by getting your kitten used to other animals. You do this by socialising your cat. The first period takes place when the kitten is between 2 and 7 weeks old. After that there is a second period that stops when the kitten is 14 weeks old. There is not much you can do about this aspect of parenting, as cats are with the breeder at least until their 12th or 13th week. Therefore, always check with the breeder how he has handled the socialisation process.

The further upbringing is up to you. Turkish Van cats have a lot of energy and like to play. They like to be busy with you. That’s why it’s important that you as the owner are very busy with the kitten. With this we don’t only mean physical games, but also brain games. A Turkish Van is an intelligent side that also needs stimulation on an intellectual level. Giving a lot of attention is very important. This is not a cat breed for people who are away from home a lot.


The care: a lot of attention is needed

The coat of Turkish Van needs attention. If you don’t comb this regularly, the hair can get tangled and tangles can develop. Regular combing keeps the coat pleasantly soft. Brushing and combing once a week will suffice. The Turkish Van has a moulting period. In the winter the coat thickens a bit, so the cat is more resistant to the cold. If this is the case, you will have to comb more often. This prevents you from getting too much trouble with the spreading of loose hairs. Never do this when your cat is moulting, but a good combing will help a lot. It is recommended that you have a metal comb or a Slicker brush.2 Once a month you give your cat a bath. This can be done with shampoo, but it is not necessary.


The food: take care for a healthy diet

Turkish Van cats can quickly become too fat, so make sure you don’t feed them too much. By nature, these cats are solidly built. They are strong and muscular, but overweight is always lurking. If you buy your Turkish Van from a recognised breeder, you will be given nutritional advice. During the first period you can follow this advice. After a while you have the freedom to choose what you think is best for your cat. Do give your cat time to get used to this, otherwise his or her intestines may bother him or her.

Because a Turkish Van is strong and muscular, the food of this breed should contain sufficient protein. In combination with a lot of exercise, this ensures that your cat’s muscles remain strong. Always buy good quality food. This is not only better for the cat itself, but you can also see the effect of good food on your cat’s coat.Turkish Van sitting outside

Diseases that are common with this cat

The Turkish Van is one of the healthiest cat breeds at the moment. To date no hereditary diseases have been discovered in this breed. That is an advantage of a cat breed that has come into existence naturally. Because of this, the chance of hereditary diseases is smaller. The only disease they have a slight tendency to is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.


How old can the Turkish Van get?

The life expectancy of a Turkish Van is on average between 12 and 17 years. The better you take care of your cat, the older it can get. Because the Turkish Van is one of the healthiest cat breeds at the moment, it is perfectly possible for your cat to become even older than 17 years. A healthy cat can always get older. So, it depends on the way you take care of your cat and the way you treat your cat.


What you need to know before you take in this type of breed

Make sure that you always buy a Turkish Van from a recognised breeder. Often such breeders are members of a breed club. Also, titles like GC (Grand Champion), NW or RW (National Regional Winning Parentage) or DM (Distinguished Merit) tell you a lot about the bloodline of the cat you have in mind.3 If such information is not known and a breeder sells several other breeds, you are probably dealing with a bread breeder. It’s also a good sign if you have to wait a long time for your kitten. The first 14 weeks are very important for the socialisation of your cat. It’s good that they spend time with their mother and any siblings. You can often take your cat home from week 12 – 15.

You can always have a look at your kitten before you buy it. Always check if the little cat or queen looks healthy. Bright eyes, clean ears, a clean nose and a nice shiny coat are good indicators of a healthy kitten. In addition, always check if the cat has been dewormed at 3, 5 and 7 weeks and if the necessary vaccinations have been received. You also base your choice for a specific cat on the fact whether you feel a bond with a cat or not. This is an instinctive choice.

A Turkish Van needs a lot of attention. If you can spend a lot of time with this cat, that is an advantage. The Turkish Van is also known for not always loving small children. This varies per individual cat, but for this reason we still recommend that you only take a Turkish Van if you have older children in the house or live alone / as a couple. In this way you can pay enough attention to your cat, for example by playing a lot with it. The Turkish Van feels at home both inside and outside.

A funny fact to know is that the Turkish Van loves swimming. That is why they are also called the Swimming Cat. Put a swimming pool in the garden and this cat will dive into it for a swim. There are even stories of people filling up their bathtub and when they walked back to the bathroom, they suddenly saw their Turkish Van swimming in their bathtub. That is how fond this breed is of water. Even if you let a water tap run, they can look at it for hours in fascination. There are even stories about Turkish Van cats flushing toilets or opening taps themselves. That’s how far their fascination with water goes.Turkish Van sitting inside

What price do you have to think about?

For a Turkish Van you pay an average of $600. A Turkish Van is a real breed cat. In terms of cost you should therefore think of a price of between $480 and $800. This price can of course differ per breeder. If the price offered by a breeder is lower than this, then it is a good idea to double check the breeder and wonder whether the cat is completely healthy or not. Responsible breeding costs a lot, especially when it concerns a pedigree cat. So, it is always good to stay alert to everything.


Do you also choose the Turkish Van?

Perhaps you already have a Turkish Van in your house, but it is also possible that you have always wanted to have your own Turkish Van. In that case we would like to hear from you. Let us know exactly why you have chosen this breed and why this cat is so unique. We would like to hear more about all sweet cats and tomcats in the world. Let us know by leaving a comment on this article!

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We are a team of cat lovers, doing our best to create and spread information about cats. On you will read all about different cat breeds, and what makes them so special. You will also find information about grooming and training your cat. Be sure to leave us a reply if you like our article.

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