Turkish Van

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The Turkish Van, or simply just Van, is a recognized cat breed that was created from the cats native to the Lake Van area. The cats of this type are named in Turkish Van Kedisi[1] (although it is used to refer solely to the all-white form), in Armenian vana katu (Armenian: վանա կատու),[2][3] and in Kurdish (Pisîka Wanê).[4] Originally called in the West the Turkish Cat,[5] the name was changed in 1979 in the U.S. (1985 in the U.K.) to Turkish Van[6] to better distance the breed from the Turkish Angora cat which had its origins around Ankara, in central Turkey. Traditionally, in the cat fancy, Turkish Vans are recognized as patterned cats with colour restricted to the head and tail with the body of the cat being white. However, in Turkey, the cat is recognised in an all-white form as well as the form with red patterning and a "fox tail", and with blue eyes, amber eyes, or one eye of each colour (Heterochromia iridis).[1]

Contents

Origins

In the Complete Cat Encyclopedia, edited by Grace Pond and published in 1972, Laura Lushington wrote that:

"One of the two accepted breeds in Turkey, the Van Cat is now known in Britain as the Turkish Cat. Originating in the Lake Van area of southeastern Turkey, these cats have been domesticated for centuries (in fact for as long as the famous Saluki Hound); they are much loved and prized by the Turks for their exceptional character and unique colouring. Apart from their great capacity for affection and alert intelligence, their outstanding characteristic is their liking for water, not normally regarded as a feline attribute. They not only dabble in water and play with it, but have been known to enter ponds and even horse-troughs for a swim — they soon became famous as the 'swimming cats.' I was first given a pair of Van kittens in 1955 while traveling in Turkey, and decided to bring them back to England, although touring by car and mainly camping at the time — the fact that they survived in good condition showed up the great adaptability and intelligence of their breed in trying circumstances. Experience showed that they bred absolutely true. They were not known in Britain at that time and, because they make such intelligent and charming pets, I decided to try to establish the breed, and to have it recognized officially in Britain by the GCCF."

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