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Turkish Van Cat Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

 Now, if you’re someone who always likes to have a “trick up his sleeve” or always likes to surprise someone, then we might just know the perfect cat for you, the Turkish Van! Not only are these great-looking cats that have great personalities, but they are also one of just a few cat breeds that actually like swimming! So much so that they’ve even been given the nickname “the swimming cat.”

But just because…

They look great and are a bit of a “freak” regarding water, but this doesn’t mean that a Turkish Van will be a good “fit” for you. This is why, in this article, we’re going to try to shed some light on what it might be like to own one of these fantastic creatures so that, hopefully, if you ever get a chance to own one, you’ll know for sure if it’s a good choice. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Turkish Van Cat Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  Turkey

Size:  Large

Weight:  10 to 13 pounds

Eyes:  Almond (blue, green, gold, amber or mixed)

Shape of Head:  Wedged-shaped

Lifespan: 12 to 17 years

Origin of the Turkish Van cat breed

The true origin of the Turkish Van breed is pretty much anyone’s guess. It’s believed that these guys have probably existed along Turkey’s eastern Anatolian region for centuries without anyone or any “cat enthusiast” really taking any notice of them.

This however changed when,n in 1955, two British women (Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday) were given a pair of these Turkish cats while vacationing in the Lake Van region of eastern Turkey. Shortly after, these two “Brits” had little kittens on their hands, each of which had the “classic” Turkish Van color points, leading them to believe that they had inherited a pair of “un-named” or “un-recognized” pedigree cats.


The rest, you could say, is history because from there, both Laura and Sonia began importing these Turkish cats into the UK, started their breeding program, and introduced them to the rest of the world. Fifteen years later, the Turkish Van was brought to America in the 1970s. Then, just 15 years after that, it was “officially” recognized by The International Cat Association in 1985 and by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1988. And while they may not be the most popular cat breeds in the United States, you can rest assured that they are trendy in Turkey and considered a national treasure. They are overseen by the Turkish College of Agriculture and the Ankara Zoo to preserve them.

Physical Characteristics

The Turkish Van’s coat is semi-long-haired. And while most cats have an undercoat, this breed does not. As a result, the Turkish Van’s skin feels like cashmere or rabbit fur (Which is pretty awesome if you ask us!). They’re also a large cat breed with a wedge-shaped head, making them appear a bit smaller than they are. So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing a “double-check” when you pick one of these guys up!


When we say significant, we don’t mean “fat”. Because these guys are all muscle. All muscles with large, broad shoulders combined with long muscular back legs are a bit longer than their front legs. You’ll also notice their ears are large and rounded at the tips, and many of them may have “odd” colored eyes, which can be either:

  • Blue,
  • Amber,
  • Green,
  • Or gold.

But their coloring distinguishes the Turkish Van cat breed from other cat breeds.

You see…

The Turkish Cat is a colored cat with large patches of white, making it look like a white cat with patches of color. The piebald white spotting gene causes this pattern. (The pattern is also known as the Van pattern.)  Their colorful side is on their tail and at the top of their head. These colors can include:

  • Red,
  • Cream,
  • Black,
  • Blue,
  • And tabby in red, cream, brown, and blue.

Their noses are pink, just like their paws.

Personality and Temperament

Turkish Cats are very social and affectionate animals. They love their family, though they may be extra loyal to some. So, don’t be surprised if your Van plays favorites, mainly if one person is always responsible for feeding them.

Now, for such a large cat breed, they’re active and playful, from kittens until they are old and grey. Whether playing with people or animals, they enjoy both types of company. They’re very athletic and love to roam around and play with toys. This is why, if you adopt a Turkish Van, you may find it challenging to keep him indoors, mainly if he is supposed to be an “indoor only” cat.

Which is a bit funny…

Because even though they love to run and play games, as far as “cats” go, these guys tend to be a bit “clumsy.” Which is probably due to their large size. Sure, they’ll catch toys mid-air, but they’ll probably land on their face. They like to run a lot, but they’ll probably trip from your living room to your bedroom five times. That said, they still love to climb. They like to look down at you from the refrigerator or even an easy-to-reach shelf. If you have this cat, you’re advised not to have anything fragile, like glass or vases, that your cat could knock down.

We should also point out that…

They’ve got a malicious kind of humor. If they see a glass or anything that they can knock down from their high stance, they will. And as we mentioned before, these guys love water. And it can be pretty much any water, so don’t be surprised if one of these guys doesn’t decide to jump in the bath with you or figure out how to turn on your kitchen sink.

We should also warn you…

That Turkish Van’s aren’t huge fans of being carried around or cuddled too much. They’ll be around or near you but won’t usually sit on your lap. They prefer to be “around” you, not on you!

Potential Health Concerns

Though some cats have specific health problems, the Turkish cat has none. But, the most common health issue amongst all cats is a heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This means that the left ventricle of a cat’s heart thickens. This is a problem because the left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the lungs, which in turn feeds that blood to the rest of their bodies.

This disease is the most common…

Amongst male cats ranging from the age of five to seven years old. It’s usually hereditary amongst cats, but this hasn’t been seen to be the case among these felines. Still, they’re susceptible. Another fundamental problem amongst all cats is obesity, but as long as you watch their diet and ensure they’re not eating everything they find, you’re good to go.

That said, however

We here at IndulgeYourPet still encourage a lot of our readers to check out how much it would cost for you to be able to purchase a pet insurance policy on your new animal. Because even though the Turkish Van is a very healthy cat breed, that’s still not going to reduce their chances of suffering from an injury. And, as many of us know, damages can be expensive when they require veterinarian care.

This is why…

We decided to write our Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that our readers can see whether or not purchasing a pet insurance policy will make sense for them.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Eva S. October 4, 2020, 8:56 pm

    This was a great help thanks

  • Amir December 11, 2020, 11:51 pm

    Thanks for the info. Our Turkish actually really loves cuddling and staying on our laps! He sleeps with us almost every night!

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