/Breed Introduction: Turkish Van Cat

Breed Introduction: Turkish Van Cat

The Turkish Van is a semi-long-haired breed of domestic cat, which was developed in the United Kingdom from a selection of cats obtained from various cities of modern Turkey, specifically Southeast Turkey. The breed is highly active and athletic, remaining playful into his senior years. Athletic doesn’t mean graceful, however. The Van is big and ungainly; this is one cat who doesn’t always land on his feet. The Van may or may not be a good traveler due to carsickness.

Breed Origin


The Turkish Van is an ancient breed thought to have originated in the Lake Van area of Turkey. The mountainous and rugged landscape and cold climate of the region no doubt contributed to the development of the Van’s cashmere-like coat and solidly built body.

The Turkish Van is a natural breed and has probably existed in his homeland for centuries. Legend has it that he swam ashore from Noah’s ark, which tradition says landed on Mount Ararat in Turkey, not far from Lake Van.

The International Cat Association recognized the breed in 1985, and the Cat Fanciers Association began registering it in 1988. In Turkey, the cats are considered national treasures, and their preservation is overseen by the Turkish College of Agriculture and the Ankara Zoo.

Breed Characteristics


Turkish Vans weigh 10 to 18 pounds at maturity.

It is not much of a lap cat, but the Van will be happy to cuddle next to you and sleep in your bed. He will also give firm direction as to the proper way to pet him.

Turkish Vans are generally healthy, although some have been reported to develop a form of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The Turkish Van has a single coat with a silky texture. Because there’s no undercoat to cause mats or tangles, it’s easy to groom with weekly combing or brushing with a slicker brush. It sheds very little except during spring and fall when old coat is falling out or new coat is coming in. Older cats may have difficulty grooming themselves thoroughly, so it can be a good idea to brush or comb them more often.

It’s a good idea to keep a Turkish Van as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car.

Colours seen in the breed include red, cream, black, blue, tabby in red, cream, and brown and blue, and various shades of tortoiseshell. Nose leather is pink, as are paw pads, although they can sometimes have colour spots.