Despite being an ancient breed, the Turkish Van is a newcomer to the United States. The first Van cats (named after Turkey’s Lake Van region) arrived in England in the 1950s, but the first Turkish Van did not arrive in the United States until 1982. Imports from Turkey are still accepted into breeding programs, though these cats are considered national treasures in their home country.
The Turkish Van is a semi-longhaired cat with an unusual pattern: the cat is white with a colored tail and a colored head. (This is known as the “Van” pattern, and it can be seen in other breeds as well.) Color should not cover more than 20% of the body of a show cat. The most sought-after show markings are limited to the head and tail. Some minor body spots are tolerated, but not preferred. They can have blue, gold, or odd-eyes. (Odd-eyed refers to having one gold eye and one blue eye.)
Vans are self-sufficient but affectionate. They usually form strong attachments to one or two members of a family. They are gregarious and stay active well into old age. They are indecisive travelers; some travel well, while others suffer from severe motion sickness.
Despite the fact that they both have the word “Turkish” in their names, the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora are two entirely different cats. Angoras are lean and have silky fur, whereas Turkish Vans are bulkier and have a plush coat.
Interesting fact: Many Turkish Vans enjoy swimming and water sports. They are frequently seen swimming in warm, shallow pools in their native Turkey near Lake Van. Owners of Turkish Vans must exercise extreme caution when granting unsupervised access to water, including baths and toilets! Even Vans who don’t like swimming are fascinated by water, as evidenced by their ‘bathing’ toys in water dishes and playing in dripping faucets. Some children even learn to turn on faucets for additional playtime enjoyment.