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Turkish Van – Cat Breed Guide

Adopt a Turkish Van, Cat Breed Guide


The Turkish Van is the domesticated breed that was formerly called as the generic Turkish Cat breed. It is not the same as the Van cat or and also different from the Turkish Angora cat breed and the Turkish Vankedisi cat breed.

This longhaired domestic cat breed is believed to be the descendants of the landrace Van cats that existed in the region of Lake Van in Turkey, eventually made their way to the mainland where these cats were bred and developed to the modern breed we know today. It is considered as one of the rarest cats breeds in the world today.

Today, the recognition of the Turkish Van may vary from one feline registry to another. The World Cat Federation or WCF which is based in Germany recognizes two Turkish Van breeds. The cats with coat colors other than white are classified under the Turkish Van. Cats that are pure white coated are recognized as a separate and distinct breed under the name Turkish Vankedisi.

The Cat Fancier’s Association which is based in the USA and the European Fédération Internationale Féline or FIFe recognizes van-patterned cats.

Official Name

Turkish Van
The breed’s name is derived from its area of origin, which is modern-day the Lake Van region and mainland Turkey, as well as the Van coat pattern of being mostly white with other colors restricted to hair seen on the cat’s the head and tail.

Before, all Turkish Van and perhaps Turkish Angora cats are called generically as Turkish Cats. These cats are also called Swimming Cats, not for their affinity to water but for their ability to swim.


As the name suggests, they are Turkish in ancestry and believed to be the descendants of the Ancient cats that first appeared in the islands within Lake Van. The modern Turkish Van cat breed can trace their roots to the first cats of this type that was developed and bred in modern-day Turkey.

The founding stock of the modern Turkish Van originates from Turkey. The serious breeding development to produce the distinct domestic cat breed was first done in the United Kingdom.

Quick FAQs

Size: Turkish Van cats are typically medium to large-sized felines.

Coat Type: Turkish Van cats have coats that are considered as longhaired in length.

Body Type: Turkish Van cats have bodies that are moderate in type.

Grooming Requirement: Turkish Van cats will require regular grooming. Having these cats groomed at least two times a week is recommended.

Vocal Tendency: Like its closely related cousins, the Turkish Angora, Turkish Van cats are vocal felines that will show their talkativeness often.

Energy Levels: Turkish Van cats have very high energy and will be very active.

Time Alone: Turkish Van cats require 4 to 8 hours of alone time every day.

Care: These cats will require lots of attention and will be moderately docile in handling.

Recognized By

The International Cat Association – Full recognition as a Champion Breed under the name Turkish Van with breed code TV.

Fédération Internationale Féline – Full recognition as a Champion Breed under the name Turkish Van with breed code TUV. This breed is classified by FIFe under the Category II group.

Cat Fanciers’ Association – Full recognition as a Champion Breed.

Australian Cat Federation – Full recognition as a Champion Breed under the name Turkish Van with breed code TUV. This breed is classified by ACF under Group 1.

Governing Council of the Cat Fancy – Recognizes the Turkish Van together with the Turkish Vankedisi, under the Semi-longhair Breed Group.

American Association of Cat Enthusiasts – Full recognition as a Champion Breed.

American Cat Fanciers Association – Full recognition as a Champion Breed under the name Turkish Van with breed code TVN.

World Cat Federation – Full recognition and grouped under the Semi-longhair Breed Group.

Livre Officiel des Origines Félines – Full recognition under the name Turkish Van with breed code TUV. Classified under the Semi-longhair Breed Group.


The actual and precise historical background of the modern-day Turkish Van cat breed varies and a variety of theories about their past makes it more confusing. But generally, the Turkish Van is associated with the Middle East, specifically in the area near the region of Lake Van, Turkey.

The modern-day Turkish Van cat breed can trace their roots in the cats developed and bred from Britain in 1955. These cats were brought to the United Kingdom from Turkey by Ms. Laura Lushington and Ms. Sonia Halliday. The two women decided to start a breeding program using the Turkish cats they brought home. The progenies of these cats owned by Ms. Lushington and Ms. Halliday eventually became the foundation stock of the modern-day Turkish Van.

By 1969, the breed was recognized in Britain and in Europe under the name Turkish Cat. With the development of the Turkish Angora, the breed’s official name was changed to the modern Turkish Van. This was done in 1979, which aimed to differentiate it with the Turkish Angora cat breed. The breed reached North America during the year 1982. It was only fully recognized as a pedigree by the Cat Fancier’s Association in 1994.


Popularly known as the Swimming cat, the Turkish Van is a feline that will not think twice about jumping into the water (if it feels like it). This behavior is probably inherited from the breed’s roots with the area of Lake Van area. Unlike typical cats, the Turkish Van will enjoy bathing in water, especially if there is a toy involved.

These cats are also known for their high intelligence, able to learn tricks and lessons as well as trained to do menial household related tasks like turning off the faucet or flushing the toilet. Turkish Van cats are energetic as well and will be very active while indoors. This is a domesticated cat breed that will be very loving and also offer undying loyalty to their human owners. Although regarded as a great family cat to have, the Turkish Van will form a stronger attachment to one particular member of its human family.


Turkish Vans are semi-longhaired cats that are distinguished for having only one layer of hair that is typically three on an average cat breed. Unlike other cats with guard hairs, awn hairs and down hairs, these cats only have the middle layer! This coat type makes the Turkish Van’s coat texture much like a rabbit’s fur or best described as cashmere, which makes it dry promptly when wet.

The Turkish Van is generally considered to be among the largest cat breeds known today. They are distinctive to other breeds from their unique rabbit-like single-layered coats, but also for their top-heavy bodies with broad shoulders.

Turkish Van cats are large and muscular inbuilt with bodies that are moderately long in length, and having longer hind legs compared to the length of their frontal limbs.

Head, Ears and Eyes
Turkish Van cats have very substantially broadheads that are a wedge in shape but with gentle features. The profile on this cat is shaped by its medium-length nose, noticeable cheekbones and a firm chin. These cats have medium to large-sized ears that are set fairly high on the head but with no vertical appearance. Ears are wide at the base with rounded tips. Turkish Van cats have eyes that are typically large with a very expressive appearance. Eyes are shaped like a walnut and set slightly oblique. Colors of the eyes can be blue, gold, or odd-eyed.

Coat and Tail
These cats from Turkey have tails that are medium in length and bushy with a plume. Turkish Van cats are semi-longhaired felines with coats that are cashmere-like to the touch. It can change coat lengths, depending on the climate. Hot weather or summer seasons will make them shorthaired cats, with hair only on some parts of the body. Colder weather or winter seasons will have these cats grow longer coats that will be dense and thicker.

Coat color varies under the different feline registries. Some major feline registries treat all typical colors and patterns as allowable while some associations separate cats with pure white coats as a different breed, called as Turkish Vankedisi.


The skin or coat condition is known as the piebald spotting gene may occur, although this genetic disorder is not limited just to the Turkish Van and is known to appear on other cat breeds. Turkish Van cats may also be affected by eye and hearing problems. Cats that are odd-eyed, with one eye having blue color may develop partial deafness. Some Turkish Van cats with two blue eyes may develop total deafness. This is due to a phenotype that is linked to the cat’s vat patterned coats.



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