Turkish Van portraitPortrait of a Turkish Van Cat

The Turkish Van cat is a beautiful, unique natural breed with some very unusual traits. First is their color pattern, which is a white body with red, grey or black markings only on the head and tail.

The Van is considered to be the first cat with such a color pattern, and when seen in other cats, and even other animals like rabbits, it is referred to as "Van" markings.

It is a large muscular cat with a classic swimmers body - broad shouldered, long in the waist, narrow hips.

Why would a cat need a swimmers body? Well, these cats like to swim so much that they are actually named for a Lake!

In the region of Turkey where they originated, lies Lake Van, the body of water Turkish Vans are named for.  

Many centuries old, the Turkish Van cat is prized in its native land for its excellent mousing skills and ideally domestic companion qualities.

Active, rugged and certainly good-looking, the Van became popular in Britain in the 1950's and is also a favorite in Australia.

The waterproof coat is long in the winter with a thick ruff around the neck, then sheds out profusely in the spring to become neat and short, with just the feathers of the tail remaining full.


Turkish Van cat descriptive wordsHow Do You Describe a Turkish Van Cat?
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Turkish Van Full


Turkish Van Kittens

The personality of the Turkish Van is cat-like and sometimes a little aloof. These are proud, thoughtful cats that are a nice choice for a quiet household preferrably without dogs or children.

Turkish Vans, despite their robust size, can be a little timid and may be very sensitive to loud people or rough handling.

This is a cat that likes your company, but also wants some space, which works well for many folks.

They may enjoy being on your lap, but not want to be held. They are known for becoming very attached though, and devoted to their families.

The Turkish Van is recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), the world's largest cat organization. It is a relatively common pure-bred or "pedigreed" domestic cat breed.

Known as the "swimming cat", the Van truly enjoys water in many forms, and will play and swim happily to the astonishment of onlookers.

There is really no explanation for why the Turkish Van is so surprisingly unique in this regard.

"Van" is a color pattern as well as a breed, meaning a solid white body with markings on tail and head, usually like a little cap over the ears. Markings can be any color with red by far the most common.

The coat is long and silky with a limited undercoat. Long guard hairs shed out heavily in the spring and active grooming is desired.

These are long, muscular, large-sized cats that have few breed-related health issues, but deafness is common in blue-eyed individuals, and in odd-eyed cats may occur in the ear on the same side as the of the blue eye.

The Turkish Van can certainly be a nice cat for the right family, but it is very adverse to boisterous activity and careless handling.

Naturally, there are always exceptions, but in general, there are far better choices for homes with young, enthusiastic children, (see kid-friendly cat breeds) and folks looking for a cuddle-buddy -Turkish Van Cat Facts

Turkish Van Closeup
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Turkish Van Kittens!Turkish Van Kittens!

Turkish Van kittens start out rather dainty and then just grow and grow. They may take years to attain their full size, but their coloring is established early on.

These kittens are very bright and benefit from thousands of years of domestication so, in general, training is a breeze.

A Turkish Van kitten may long for the outside, so if you are planning for an indoor life consider teaching them to walk on a lead very early, and they will be very grateful.  

Naturally, kitten proofing is important for anyone with a new kitten, and Vans tend to be explorers, boldly going where few kitties have gone before, so batten down the hatches.

Because this is a fairly common cat in many countries, breeders of pedigree Turkish Van kittens can be found relatively easily, and the price is usually fairly affordable for a pure-bred kitten.

Tiny Turkish Van KittenTiny Turkish Van Kitten

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Turkish Van face

Head Shape: The head is large, broad, and wedge-shaped, prominent cheekbones, medium size, well-formed muzzle and firm chin, with gently rounded contours. The ears are large and high set, slightly rounded tip and well-feathered inside. The eyes should be medium-large and slightly slanted. Eye color should be blue, gold, or odd-eyed. 

Body and Tail: This is a large cat with muscular deep chest, well-sprung ribs and strong, broad shoulders. The body is longer than tall, and breadth and depth of chest are a strong breed characteristic that is highly desirable. The legs are medium length and well-muscled. They should be wide-set and powerful. The feet are medium to large in proportion to the body, rounded and full. The tail is long and tapered with longer hair than that which is on the body. 

Gorgeous Turkish Van CatGorgeous Turkish Van Cat

Coat: The coat is medium-long, very soft and without an undercoat. The hair on the tail and around the ruff of the neck substantially longer especially in winter months.

Pattern: The pattern, a white body with coloring confined to the head and tail, is known as Van and the term Van is used to describe these markings in other animals. Within the breed, interestingly enough, the pattern is referred to as "harlequin", not Van. Colors may be red, black, blue or cream with red being far the most common. Patches should be confined to the head and tail, but a patch or two on the body field is acceptable.

Overall Appearance: This should be a large and powerful cat with a muscular, well-formed body and limbs and a deep, broad chest. The fur is soft and semi-long. This is a natural breed that retains a slightly aloof quality.


Turkish Van Cat Closeup
  • Turkish Vans have such broad shoulders and chests that, unlike most other cats, they do not automatically fit through tight spaces just because their head fits!

Beautiful Turkish Van CatBeautiful Turkish Van Cat
Turkish Van on white

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