The Turkish Van is a rare breed of cat from Turkey’s Lake Van region. The coat on a Turkish Van is semi-longhaired, with only one hair type instead of the usual three. This makes their coat feel soft like cashmere or rabbit fur. The cats have a coat that grows very thick in the winter with a large ruff and then sheds to be short in the warmer months. Its tail is full year round.
The term Van in their name refers to their color pattern; the cat’s entire body is white with a tiny bit of color ““ restricted to its head and tail. Breed standards allow for one or more body spots as long as they are at least 80% white and do not have a bicolor appearance. The classic Turkish Van color is Red tabby and white, however the color on their tail and head could be one of many.
The Van is a fairly large breed. The females weigh around 10 pounds while the males can reach about 20. Much like the Siberian cat, Vans are strong jumpers due to their muscle structure. They mature slowly; it takes about 5 years for them to complete the process.
Turkish Vans are very energetic and playful. They are typically quick learners, and are able to learn to play fetch. They can easily completely take over their owners and their homes. They are people cats, and they are often described as dog-like.
One of the most unusual traits of this breed is a fascination with water. While most cats strongly dislike water, Turkish Vans have been nicknamed “Swimming Cats”. They often fish in the toilet or stir their water bowls.
Vans are a naturally occurring breed of cat that can still be found in east Turkey near their original stomping grounds. They are under protection of the Turkish government and are bred at the Ankara zoo. There are only about 100 Turkish Vans born in America every ear, making them one of the rarest breeds of cat.
Vans are sometimes confused with Turkish Angoras, although the two are distinctly different cats. Angoras carry a gene associated with blue eyes and deafness, but the eye color of a Van can be amber, blue or odd.