Turkish Van Cat – Information, images, characteristics and how to care for them
Not a lap cat, but the Van will be happy to curl up next to you and sleep in your bed.
See all the features of the Turkish van below!
Turkish Van Cat Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics and Facts
Lifespan: 12 to 17 years Length: 14 to 17 inches Weight: 10 to 18 pounds Origin: Lake Van, Turkey
More about this breed
Known as the swimming cat for its propensity to play in bodies of water, or at least enjoy splashing its paws in them, the Turkish Van is an ancient breed believed to have originated in the Lake Van area of Turkey. The rugged, mountainous landscape and cold climate of the region no doubt contributed to the development of the cashmere coat and solidly built Van body.
The Turkish van is a natural breed and has probably existed in its homeland for centuries. The legend says that
How did the Van get its color spots? Both Jewish and Islamic tradition say that the cats were the recipients of a divine touch that imparted color to their ancient white coat. In the ark, a door hit the cat’s tail, turning it red, and God reached out and touched the cat on the head, leaving a place where the hand rested. In the Islamic version, Allah touched the cat on the back, and the stain sometimes seen on the back of a Turkish van is known as Allah’s fingerprint.
However it came to be, the Van has been attractive to many of Turkey’s invaders and visitors over the years. At least some probably made it to Europe as “souvenirs” in the last millennium.
However, it was not until the 1970s that a Turkish pickup truck was first brought to the United States. The International Cat Association recognized the breed in 1985 and the Cat Fanciers Association began registering it in 1988. In Turkey, cats are considered national treasures and their preservation is overseen by the Turkish College of Agriculture and Ankara Zoo.
Turkish vans weigh 10 to 18 pounds at maturity.
When properly socialized in infancy, it is a social and affectionate cat that is strongly attached to its family members, although it may pick one or two as its favourites. He is very active and athletic, and continues to be playful into his senior year. However, athletic does not mean elegant. The van is big and gangly; this is a cat that doesn’t always land on its feet.
Turkish Vans are very intelligent and can learn tricks and games, including playing fetch. They like teaser toys that allow them to imitate pounce on their prey. And if you can’t find your Van, look up; he’s probably perched on top, as high as he can get. Don’t display anything that breaks easily; the Van has a wicked sense of humor and may enjoy pushing items off a shelf just to see what happens. Or sometimes it’s just clumsy.
The Van may or may not be a good traveler. Trips to the vet often involve the cat throwing up, urinating, or pooping in the car. If you like to RV or take road trips with your cat, ask the breeder if the cats in their line are prone to motion sickness.
Van’s love of water can get him into trouble. Leave the toilets and cover the pools and spas if you’re not there to supervise their water excursions. And resign yourself to finding your faucets dripping. You can easily learn to turn them on so you can drink from them or play in the sink. It’s not unusual for a van to simply enjoy lying in the water, especially when it’s hot.
A van doesn’t like to be held or restrained, and it’s a rule at cat shows that cats are displayed on the table rather than held up in the air. In particular, if you’re ever unsure what a Van feels like, pay attention to your Vanometer. That pretty pink nose will start to turn red if your Turkish Van is upset. If his nose darkens from pink to crimson, heed the warning and leave him alone.
Not a lap cat, but the Van will be happy to curl up next to you and sleep in your bed. She will also give you firm direction on the proper way to pet him.
Both pedigree cats and mixed breed cats have different incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Turkish Vans are generally healthy, although some have been reported to develop a form of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In some breeds like the Maine Coon, HCM is inherited, but that has not been proven in the Turkish Van.
The Turkish Van has a single coat with a silky texture. Because there’s no undercoat to cause matting or tangling, it’s easy to groom with weekly combing or brushing with a slicker brush. Sheds very little, except during the spring and fall when old hair is falling out or new hair is coming in. Older cats can have a hard time grooming well, so it may be a good idea to brush or comb them more often. The Turkish Van’s coat is waterproof, so be glad that baths are rarely necessary.
Brushing teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Cut your nails every two weeks. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t risk spreading any infection.
Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them down with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth dampened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the inside of the ear.
Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about toilet hygiene, and a clean litter box will also help keep long fur clean.
It’s a good idea to keep a Turk Van as an indoor-only cat to protect it from diseases carried by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and other dangers faced by cats that go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Turkish vans that go out into the open are also at risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a cute cat without paying for it.
Coat color and grooming
You might think that the Turkish Van is a white cat with colored spots, but genetically you would be wrong. In fact, it is a colored cat with very large white spots, a pattern caused by the gene for itchy white spots. The result is a cat whose body is mostly white, with colored markings on the head and tail. It may also have random colored spots on the body and legs. This type of coloration is sometimes seen in other breeds and is known as the Van pattern.
Colors seen in the breed include red, cream, black, blue, brindle in red, cream, brown, and blue, and various shades of tortoiseshell. The leather of the nose is pink, as are the pads of the feet, although they can sometimes have colored spots.
The Turkish van has a broad, wedge-shaped head with a rounded muzzle, moderately large ears with slightly rounded tips, and moderately large rounded eyes that can be blue, amber, or one of each color. As befits a cat that was trained to survive in a rugged landscape and climate, it has a strong, powerful body with a broad chest and shoulders and long, muscular legs. Males are much larger and more muscular than females.
Keeping the Turkish Van cozy is a simple, soft, semi-long coat with feathers (longer hair) on the ears, legs, feet, and belly, a ruff around the neck, and a fully feathered tail. Kittens and young adults have a less developed coat than mature adults. The coat does not reach its full length until the cat is at least two years old. In summer the coat is short, but it becomes much longer and thicker in winter.
This is a large breed; they can take three to five years to reach their full size.
Children and other pets
The well-socialized Van is comfortable with children, making it a good choice for families with active children who will enjoy running around with a toy, tossing a ball for the cat to fetch, or teaching tricks. Supervise young children to ensure they pet the cat well and do not pull on its fur or tail.
Turkish Van is also happy to live with cat-friendly dogs, as long as they acknowledge that he is in charge. When it comes to cats, he prefers the company of his own kind, but will accept other cats, especially if he was raised with them from infancy. In either case, he introduces the pets slowly and under controlled circumstances to ensure they learn to get along.