The Turkish Van is lovingly nicknamed the "swimming cat" for their love of water. It is not uncommon to find them splashing in pools, ponds, bathtub, or any other water they can find. This highly intelligent, active, affectionate cat is easy to train, and for sure, you can have hours of playtime with this cat breed.
Because Turkish Vans do not reach their full maturity until around three to five years old, this kitten's coat will fill in as they grow up. Their semi-long, luxurious coat, comparable to the feel of cashmere, needs minimal grooming.
Turkish Vans are large, highly spirited cats with no hereditary predisposition toward medical conditions. They can demonstrate their athletic ability both on land and in the water. While most cats run when they see water, this cat breed is a strong and skilled swimmer. This is one characteristic that made the Turkish Van’s personality so unique. It's their soft coat; specifically, that lets the cat enjoy the water sports. Moreover, their coat is naturally water-resistant because of its silky texture and apparently because it is only one coat.
Turkish Vans have distinctive markings. It is called a "Van pattern," consisting of an almost all-white body colouring on its face and tail. Common colours also include red and brown. This one-of-a-kind pattern occurs because of the presence of what is called the "piebald" gene. This characteristic appears in both animals and humans, resulting in large unpigmented areas of the body. Their bushy, squirrel-like tail complements their distinct physical appearance.
In addition to their unique coat markings, Turkish Vans may sport eyes of different colours. They may have two amber eyes, two blue eyes, or one of each, a characteristic not unusual with this cat breed.
- Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
- Shedding: Low 2/10
- Hypoallergenic: Low 2/10
- Activity Level: High 10/10
- Playfulness: High 10/10
- Friendliness to other pets: High 10/10
- Friendliness to children: High 10/10
- Affection towards it’s owners: Medium 6/10
- Vocality: Low 2/10
- Intelligence: High 10/10
- Independence: Medium 6/10
Turkish Vans take their name from Lake Van, an area in the mountains of Turkey’s eastern Anatolian region. They possibly existed there for many centuries, protected by their isolation and remoteness from the rest of the world.
In the mid-1950s, westerners first discovered the Turkish Vans by photographers Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington. They were provided with a pair of kittens during their trip in the area and were astounded to see the breed go to ponds or streams for a swim any time they like. When these photographers took these cats back to England with them, there was an interest in the cat breed. However, these cats were rare even in the country of their origin. Fortunately, cat breeders have taken care to preserve this cat breed. In Turkey, Turkish Vans are considered national treasures.
Turkish Vans were not taken to the United States until the year 1982. But in 1979, The International Cat Association already recognized them as a breed. Also, they are recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association and other international cat registries.
Turkish Vans are a large, muscular yet graceful cat breed with a white body and unique coloured head and tail. These cats are well-balanced and solid in their appearance. Their large ears are set high on their head, and their large eyes are oval and expressive. Turkish Vans’ coat is long, soft and smooth with no woolly undercoat. Their paws are tufted, and their tail has a full brush. The Turkish Vans’ body is mainly chalk white with coloured markings on top of their head. The colouring on their head is parted by a vertical white blaze. Periodically, small thumbprints of colour appear on their body. Their eyes may be blue or amber or one of each.
Turkish Vans come in several colours from the traditional white with auburn to the recent varieties and still pretty rare, including black, tortoiseshell, white with cream, blue, blue tortie, blue-tabby, brown tabby, tortie tabby or blue tortie tabby. It is achievable to breed three different eye colours in all colours, with these being blue, amber, or odd-eyed.
Preferably, their body should be chalk-white with no trace of yellow. Turkish Vans should have coloured markings on their head, but not underneath their eyeliners' level or beyond the base of the back of their ears, with the colour on the head separated by a vertical white blaze. Their tail should also be coloured and is described as a full brush. Small 'thumb prints' of colour unevenly placed are acceptable for show standard, as colour extends from the root of their tail onto their back.
Their fur should be long soft, and silky to the roots. Their coat is shorter in the summer; in the winter, it is much denser. Their neck and chest ruff become even more distinct with maturity. Notably, Turkish Vans take three to five years to reach full maturity.
Turkish Vans’ personality is best described as playful, energetic, and fun-loving. They require a lot of love and attention from their human companions. That is why they are a perfect match for those who have ample time and love to share with their Turkish Van. They are also jumpers. They have powerful hind legs so expect to find them on top of furniture or in some other area that is high where they can perch and observe.
Turkish Vans are not much of a lap cat. But they will be happy to cuddle next to their human companion and sleep in their bed. They will also give direction as to how to pet them properly.
Energetic and social, Turkish Vans are highly intelligent and needs regular exercise and playtime to blossom. Because of their bright minds, sometimes this cat breed can also get itself into mischief. An example of this is their particular fondness of knocking items off shelves and tables. They are not known for being floor cat because they prefer to be at the top of everything, watching their surroundings below.
Due to their high energy and love for high places, it makes Turkish Vans a little inconsiderate to the ornaments or items in the house you find valuable but to the Vans are just simple obstructions. To prevent this, cat owners may want to invest in plenty of toys around the house to take their attention away from the valuables.
Watch out for their love of water. It can lead them into trouble. Check and put down your toilet seats and cover your swimming pools and spas if you are not at home to supervise their aquatic trips. You may also find your faucets dripping. They can quickly learn how to turn them on to drink or play with it. It’s not uncommon for a Turkish Van to simply enjoy lying in the water, particularly on a hot sunny day.
Turkish Vans dislike being held or restrained. A rule at cat shows that these cats must be displayed on the table instead of being held up in the air. Most especially, if you are not sure about how a Turkish Van is feeling, check out their nose. It is the pretty shell-pink nose that will begin to turn red if your cat is upset. If their nose starts to change from pink to crimson, notice this sign and leave them alone.
When a Turkish Van cat is adequately socialized and trained during kittenhood, they will grow up to be a well-mannered and well-rounded cat. They are very social and affectionate cat that gets deeply devoted to members of their family. However, they may only select one or two as their favourites. They are active and athletic and remains playful into their senior years.
Turkish Vans are highly intelligent and can quickly learn games and tricks, which includes playing fetch. They enjoy teaser toys that allow them to mimic tackling prey. When you can’t find your cat, you may want to look up; they are probably perched overhead. Turkish Van cats have a wicked sense of humour. They may enjoy pushing items off the shelf to see what happens, although sometimes, they are just clumsy.
Challenge their brain and by teaching them tricks and providing puzzle toys that reward with treats. Other favourite toys are big peacock feathers, furlike toys on a string, and small balls that they can chase and fetch. The Van is tough on toys, so be prepared to replace them regularly.
Coat & Care
Turkish Vans have a single coat with a smooth texture. Because they do not have undercoat to cause tangles or mats, it is easy to groom and maintain with weekly combing or brushing using a slicker brush. Their coat sheds very little except during spring and fall when their old coat is falling out, or new coat is coming in. Senior cats may have trouble grooming themselves thoroughly. So, they may need your assistance to keep their coat healthy and tangle-free. That’s why it is a good idea to brush or comb them regularly. The Turkish Van‘s coat is water-resistant. Baths are hardly necessary.
It is very important to know which brush or comb works best for your Turkish Van and how accustomed they can be to having a grooming routine. It is best that you start training them at a young age using a very soft brush, so it doesn’t pull or hurt their fine kitten fur and their skin. As you establish your routine, you can give your Turkish Van a reward every after grooming session. This way, they know that good behaviour links to a small treat. As they mature, you can switch to a more appropriate brush or comb for their needs and age.
For their ears, check it weekly for dirt, debris or wax. You can wipe them out using a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a vet-approved ear cleaner. If you notice a foul odour coming from their ears, it is recommended that you contact your vet for immediate treatment.
Weekly brushing is recommended. This will help prevent any gum and tooth. Keep their nails clean and neat by trimming them twice a month or when needed. For eye discharge, you can wipe it with a clean, soft, damp cloth to eliminate it. Just make sure to use a different part of the clean cloth for each eye to prevent the risk of spreading an eye infection.
Turkish Vans are generally a very healthy cat breed. Their life expectancy is between thirteen to seventeen plus years with proper care, exercise and provided with a high-quality diet. But some cats have been reported to develop a form of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – is a form of heart disease that causes their heart muscle to enlarge. Turkish Vans are one of the cat breeds that may be affected by this health condition.
Children & Other Pets
Turkish Vans who have been adequately socialized is relaxed with children, making them a perfect choice for families with active children who enjoy throwing a ball for the cat to fetch, running around with a teaser toy, or teaching tricks. It is still best to supervise young children to make sure they pet the Turkish Van nicely and do not pull their fur or tail.
Turkish Vans are happy to live and play with cat-friendly dogs as long as these dogs recognize that they are in charge. When it comes to other cats, they prefer the company of their own kind. Don’t worry; they will still accept other cats for as long as they are brought up together from kittenhood. In other cases, familiarize pets gradually and in a controlled environment to ensure that they learn to get along well together.