The Breed History
Eastern Turkey surrounding Lake Van is the place of origin of the breed. Vans are not closely related to Turkish Angora cats and are larger and more heavily built than the Angora. Many of the Turkish Van cats love to swim! Vans were first exported in 1955 to England, then to America where interest took off in 1982. The distinguishing white and red markings in this breed are known as van, and this term is now used to describe other cats in other breeds with the same color pattern. These other similarly marked cats are referred to as van cats also, but this should not be confused with them being related. No outcrosses are allowed. In Turkey, indigenous people often refer to "van" cats as all white cats with odd-eyes; perhaps a description more in line with what the fancy organizations have labeled the Turkish Angora. The CFA accepted this breed in Miscellaneous Class in 1988, provisional in 1993, and for Championship status in 1994. The GCCF and FIFР№ both recognized the breed in 1969.
Weight: Breed standard specifies both weight and length. Males- > 28" height, > 10 lb to 19 lb (4.5-8.5 kg) Females > 25" height, > 8 lb (3.5 kg)
Coat: The most common color is van, a chalk white body with dark orange-red (auburn) tail and lighter red-orange colored blazed marking over the skull. Sometimes head markings extend up onto the ears (considered ideal). Ideally, a white blaze should extend up the middle of the forehead. The tail is faintly ringed in orange or cream cats, but not in blue or tortie cats. The other color markings are combined with a white body in a van pattern. Some registries (CFA) allow for up to 20% of the body to be the colored hairs (in "thumbprints"). Cream is a dilute of the orange color. Point restricted or Oriental colors (lilac, chocolate) are not accepted in any registries. Van is piebald spotting genetically (SS), a dominant gene with incomplete penetrance. Different grading systems have been published to describe the differing degrees of white, with grades 2-9 having some variation of the piebald; with ideal Van markings being around 8-9 on the scales. If there is more than 20% color on body, or lacking van color on head or tail it will be a pet quality cat. Coat texture is very soft (like cashmere) and plush; it is a semi-longhaired single silky coat. Coat lies flat, with britches and feathers on belly, feet and legs. Length and fullness of coat depends on the season. This is a water resistant coat.
Eyes: Colors include blue, odd-eyed or yellow-amber (the original auburn van eye color). Eyes are moderately large, wide set, ovalalmond shaped. Color may become less intense with age.
Points of Conformation: These are medium-large cats with sturdy conformation. Head is a broad wedge shape, with prominent cheekbones, and moderately long straight nose. Face has a slight break. Ears are high set, medium-large in size, well furnished, and tips are somewhat rounded. Tail has "bottle brush" hair cover and the tail is the same length as the body, with a blunt tip. Body and chest are both broad, and the feet are large, round and compact with tufting of hair between the toes.
Grooming: Moderate grooming needs-just a quick daily brush or combing required. Much reduced matting tendency compared with Persians. Though they are known as swimming cats, this does not necessarily translate into a love of baths.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Highly intelligent-the hallmark of the breed is their love of swimming, though not all individuals are water-loving. Gait of the male cats can appear to swing due to the wide pelvis. They are active cats, friendly and independently minded, vocal and love climbing but not jumping; they like to keep their feet on the ground. Good for leash training and love to play fetch. Some can open cupboard doors. Can be startled with certain sounds; some don't travel well and may resist carrying. Not considered lap cats. Vans are often described as "dog like".
Normal Breed Variations
Litter average size 4 kittens
These are slow maturing cats (~3-5 years)
Blood Type: In a survey of 85 cats in Turkey, 60% were B blood type. In a recent survey of 78 Van cats in Turkey, naturally occurring alloantibody titers were measured; in this study 57.7% of the cats were type B (n=45 cats). In this subset, all the B type cats had grossly evident agglutinating anti-A antibodies in plasma. Type A cats (n=33) were also checked and 78% had anti-B antibody in their plasma; of these 18% had microscopic agglutination only.
None reported in the literature
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI): Increased risk due to high prevalence of B blood type; Neonatal isoerythrolysis occurs when A or AB type kittens of a B type queen are allowed to nurse in the immediate postnatal period. Authors recommended typing male and female cats before breeding, even the first breeding, since a primiparous females' offspring can be affected.
Transfusion Reactions: High risk of reactions due to presence of type B blood type in this breed, so blood typing should be done before transfusions according to the authors. Where there was an A type donor and B type recipient, if not typed, the recipient had a 8.9% probability of an acute severe reaction, while another 77.8% could be expected to have acute mild reactions, with the balance having premature red cell destruction post-transfusion.
Blood typing should be performed before transfusion or breeding due to high prevalence of blood type B.
- Breed name synonyms: Van cat, Swimming Cat, Water Cat, Turk, National Cat of Turkey, Turkey, White Ringtail (historical SYN), Russian Longhair, White Russian
- Registries: FIFe, TICA, CFA, ACFA, GCCF, ACF, WCF, NZCF
- Breed resources: Vantastix Turkish Van Breed Club: www.vantastixcatclub.com
Classic Turkish Van Cat Association: http://www.vantasia.org/
Turkish Van Cat Club (UK): http://www.turkishvancatclub.co.uk/index1.htm
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