Active: The Turkish Van is a very active cat that enjoys playing games and showing off their athletic abilities.
Size: The Turkish Van is a medium to large cat that weighs between 9 to 18 pounds.
Characteristics: The body of the Turkish Van was developed over time in the elements in which it had to survive. Therefore, they have a very sturdy, strong, muscular body. They have broad shoulders and long, muscular legs. Their head is also broad and is wedge-shaped with a rounded muzzle. Additionally, they have wide-set ears that are somewhat large that have slightly rounded tips. They also have somewhat large, rounded eyes that are very lovely.
Temperament: The Turkish Van is an affectionate, intelligent and loving cat. They are very busy and enjoy staying active a good portion of the day. They love to jump and climb to great heights and can be quite mischievous. Their activity level, combined with their high level of intelligence, means that they love to play games and learn new tricks. They are also known for their love of water so do not be surprised if you see them splashing around. They love to talk and will bond fiercely with their family members.
Care: The coat of the Turkish Van is surprisingly easy to care for. Their coat is water and dirt resistant so they do not get dirty very easily and do not require baths often. They simply need to be brushed once or twice each week to keep their coat looking lovely. In addition, be sure to clean their ears and trim their nails as needed. And, as with any cat, it is important to brush their teeth to prevent periodontal disease.
Coat: The Turkish Van is a colorful cat that has very large patches of white on its coat. They have a semi-long coat that actually comes in two lengths. They shed and their coat changes seasonally. In the winter, the coat is thicker and longer and in the summer it is shorter and thinner. Their coat is incredibly soft and feels almost like cashmere. The only allowable pattern is the Van pattern and the colors include red, cream, black, blue, tabby in red, cream, brown and blue, and various shades of tortoiseshell.
Origin: The Turkish Van cat breed has been around for centuries and has many interesting legends and stories surround its origin. There are even tales of the Turkish Van aboard Noah's Ark! It has existed in the Lake Van region of Turkey for centuries and that is where it derives its name from. It lived, largely isolated, in the area and developed its unique and wonderful features in isolation. One of the interesting features is that it is fascinated with water and has even been given the nickname "Swimming Cat." Lake Van is known for its extreme temperatures and the Turkish Van most likely developed its affinity for water by cooling off in the lake. The Turkish Van has existed in the region for at least 5,000 years and can be seen in ancient drawings, carvings and even jewelry.
While the exact origins of the Turkish Van are unknown, the modern history of the Turkish Van that we know today begins in 1955. Two British photographers, Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday, were traveling through Turkey and were given two Turkish Van cats. The breed was unknown in England at the time and Lushington and Halliday, returned home and set forth with getting the breed recognized by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. Lushington began a breeding program for the cats and returned to Turkey to acquire additional cats for the program. Another breeder, Lydia Russell, also played an instrumental role in promoting the Turkish Van cat breed. Finally, in 1969, as the breed grew and received more recognition, the GCCF gave the breed full pedigree status.
Popularity for the breed continued and soon, the breed made their way to the United States in the 1970s. In 1983, American breeders Jack and Barbara Reark began breeding Turkish Vans and the breed continued to skyrocket into popularity. Soon, all major associations accepted the breed for championship status. The Turkish Van can is quite rare and Turkey no longer allows Vans to be exported but the breed has been well protected and preserved by breeders outside of Turkey so that it continues to flourish.