Turkish Van cat

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Turkish Van cat showing colours

Characteristics of the Turkish Van

Turkish Van cats are a rare breed of domestic cat. The cats are handsome, semi-long-haired, gentle, and affectionate, strong, active, curious and healthy. They have brave personalities and show great intelligence. Turkish Van cats will fetch and can be taught to walk on a lead, they often enjoy carrying soft toys around. They enjoy water play, are surprisingly good swimmers and will often bathe quite happily. These cats have a hearty appetite and are not picky eaters; the cats are large and can weigh up to 18 pounds for a male. There are no known genetic diseases with this breed.

Origin of Turkish Vans

Turkish Van cats hail from the Lake Van area of Turkey, a south-east cold region. The cats have a triangular face, small and rounded eyes, and the ears are large, rounded and pink on the inside. Vans have a muscular body structure with legs that look thicker due to the fur and small feet. The cat has a white body with the colour restricted mainly to the tail and head. Turkish Van’s have a beautiful long-haired plumed and coloured tail. The Turkish Van will take up to five years to reach full maturity. Turkish Vans usually only have small litters of around four kittens. The kittens begin with a short coat, which gradually gets longer as the cat matures.


The fur is white with red chestnut patches between the eyes and ears and also on the tail, sometimes with lighter and darker alternating red colours. A Turkish Van cat may have blue or amber eyes, or odd coloured eyes. Originally called the “Turkish cat” it was re-named to distinguish it from the Turkish Angora cat. The Van and the Angora cat are distinct breeds that developed in geographically different regions of Turkey. When seen together the cats have different body shapes and characteristics.

Turkish Van cat

Breed standards

Breed standards allow for one or more body spots as long as there is no more than twenty percent colour and the cat does not give the appearance of a bicolour. A few random spots are acceptable, but they should not detract from the pattern; the rest of the cat is white. Although red tabby and white is the classic van colour, the colour on a Van’s head and tail can be one of the following: red, cream, black, blue, red tabby, cream tabby, brown tabby, tortoiseshell, and also other tabby colours. The white spotting gene or piebald gene is why the cats have a random pattern of colour. Common standard faults in the breed include a fully rounded head, markings on the body and underdeveloped musculature.


The coat has a very soft and silky ‘cashmere’ like feel and there is no undercoat, so matting is not usually a problem with this breed. The coat is quite water-repellent and will therefore dry quickly. The cats have a winter coat, and then moult to have a shorter, lighter coat in summer. The cats do not need a lot of grooming; although a daily brush with a soft-haired brush will probably be enjoyed by the cat and help prevent knots.

Status of Turkish Van Cats

In 1969 the Turkish Van was given full pedigree status by The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. The Van began to be imported into America in the 1970s.

Charlie ShortTail
Lovecats a world of cats and all things feline. Featuring Charlie ShortTail a ginger and white tomcat with a rather cute and very short tail.

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