The beautiful yet rare Turkish Van cat breed has a white body with characteristic color spots on only the head and tail. These cats love to hunt and can be quite playful as domestic cats. Unlike other cat breeds, they actually love water, earning them the nickname "swimming cats."
Turkish Van Origins
Turkish van cats originated in the Lake Van region in the east of Turkey, which explains their unique breed name. Some experts believe the breed has existed in the area for centuries and developed their signature characteristics, like a hearty body and extra warm coat, due to the mountainous landscape. There is even a legend that this water-loving feline actually swam straight off of Noah's Ark to live in the region! It even makes sense because Mount Ararat, where lore says the ark actually landed, is only 100 miles away.
Turkish Van Physical Characteristics
The distinct color markings on the Turkish Van's head, neck and tail also have divine legends. Some say that the door of the ark shut on the tail, giving it color. To soothe the cat, god reached down and touched the cat's head, giving it another color spot. These hearty cats can weigh anywhere from 10-18 pounds when fully grown.
Their coats are somewhat unique in that there is no undercoat. Luckily this makes grooming a breeze. Just brush them about once a week, especially during shedding seasons, and you will have a happy cat. Turkish Van coats are also water-resistant to help with swimming, so they really don't need you to give them a bath.
Turkish Van Cats' Playful Personalities
This is not a cuddly cat breed, but they are smart and active. Though they do not want to sit in your lap all day, they may follow you around the house, showing their loyalty in their own way. They are likely to be the star of a somersaulting viral video or one in which they figure out how to turn on the bathroom faucet. It's not just that they enjoy water; it utterly fascinates them. They are playful problem solvers who need stimulation with toys to stay happy.
Genetic Anomalies Found in Turkish Van Cats
Turkish Vans are known for having two different colored eyes, potentially at a higher rate than other breeds. They can have either blue eyes, amber eyes or a combination. Some Turkish Van cats may turn out all white, although typically offspring has a similar percentage of markings as their parents. The all white ones may be more prone to deafness, especially if they have blue eyes.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Since Turkish Vans are not a usual sight in the United States, some recommend keeping your cat as an indoor one. These cats do not show up often in shelters and could cost a pretty penny to get from a quality breeder. A cat fancier who sees a gorgeous Turkish Van wandering around the street just might pick it up and call it their own!
If you want to have this unique and special breed, put your breakables away. They love to jump up onto shelves, showing off their athleticism in the process. They may not be the best with children because while they like getting pet, they typically do not take kindly to grabbing or hugging. However, they love playing with other household animals. Turkish Van cats are not your standard house pet, but their big personalities make them easy to love!