The Turkish Van Cat: the swimming cat
Muscular long body, silky coat, amber eyes – these sensational beauties are none other than the Turkish Van Cat. They have a passion for swimming, no doubt, these silky coated beauties invade the hearts of all kitty lovers.
The Turkish (semi) longhair cat is probably one of the oldest domesticated cats. It is said that he is the ancestor of all other longhair breeds. There exist images of cats with ring plumed tails on Urartu jewellery (Urartu Kingdom: 1000–585 BC) and on a Roman shield (occupation Romans classic Armenia: 75–387 AD). Pictures have also been noted in friezes on the walls of ancient Armenian churches in the Lake Van area.
The silky coated beauties…
The Turkish Van is a solid built cat. He has a muscular long body with full chest and shoulders. Males tend to be much larger than females. Their head is broad, wide, modified wedge with rounded contours and high cheekbones. The ears are wide at the base and large in size. The eyes are almond shaped and can be amber, blue or odd eyed (one amber and one blue eye).
The coat is fine and silky and lies flat. There is no undercoat, but there are seasonal differences. In summer, only the tail shows that he is a longhair cat. The tail is thick and muscular.
There are Turkish Vans with and without a “Van pattern.” The first Vans in the Cat Fancy had two coloured spots on their head and a coloured tail. Small patches of colour on body and legs can also be seen. All registries recognise the following colours for the Van pattern combined with white: red, black, creme, blue, also as tabby, tortie and torbie. As seen in other breeds, kittens can have some colour.
Turkish Vans are intelligent, energetic, loyal, and friendly. They are very adroit at opening doors, cupboards and windows, especially if it will lead to food. Many play fetch and carry like Retrievers. They love to race around the house and like to sit on heights and leap onto your shoulders. They are curious and like to investigate everything. They get along great with other cats and dogs, but want to be the boss. They are people oriented and can adjust to indoor living, but require periods of exercise to release pent-up energy. Most Vans are fascinated by running water, as in the fountain type drink well.
Grooming a Van is simple. His coat requires only a quick comb through every week and occasional bath is needed. Because he has no woolly undercoat, a Van’s coat does not mat. He doesn’t need a special diet. You can give him commercial wet and dry food, which can even be combined with fresh meat or cooked fish or chicken.
The birth of kittens is most of the time without complications. The average litter exists of 4 kittens and they are usually good doers. There are not breed specific health problems known.
(Joyce Ouderkerk is a breeder of Turkish Van cats since 1996. She is also a member of TICA Turkish Van breed committee; vicepresident of Turkish Van Cat Connection; and secretary of Turkse Raskattenvereniging Lokum –Dutch Turkish breeds club.)