The Turkish Van cat is the oldest recorded domesticated semi-longhair cat.

Turkish Van

Turkish Van cat, native to the rugged mountains of the Lake Van region (Eastern Turkey), is said to have a very loyal nature. These cats were originally called Turkish Cats, but the term was changed later on and the cats came to be known by the name of 'Turkish Van'. This made it easier to distinguish the Van cats from Turkish Angora cat, with a much similar origin. Turkish Van cats are excellent climbers, so don't be surprised if you find them sitting on top of your cupboard or kitchen cabinets. They can also be taught to make great somersaults. You will mostly find a female Turkish Van to be much more independent and bossy than the male, though exceptions are always there.

Turkish Van is a rare and ancient breed of cats, which was developed in central and southwest Asia, the area which today encompasses the countries of Iran, Iraq, southwest Soviet Union and eastern Turkey. The modern history of the cat began in 1955, when they were introduced in England. Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were traveling through Turkey, in 1955, where they noticed that the cats in the Van area of Eastern Turkey had a striking resemblance to the traditional Angora cats. The only difference was that instead of being pure white, their coat had auburn head markings and a faintly ringed auburn tail.

Laura took two of the Turkish cats, which were not related to each other, and brought them back with her, to Britain. She got them mated and the result was kittens with the same auburn markings, confirming the breed to be natural, not manmade. Laura is the one who suffixed the term 'Van' after the Turkish cat and it became to be known as Turkish Van Cat. The cat breed was introduced in America only in the 1970s. Fifteen years later, in 1985, it was granted the Turkish Van Championship status, by TICA (The International Cat Association, Inc.). The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) accepted the breed for registration in 1988.

Turkish Van cats have a solidly built, sturdy, broad, muscular and deep-chested body. They have semi-long hair and can take anywhere from three to five years to reach full maturity. They have prominent cheekbones, a firm chin and a rounded muzzle. Turkish Vans are regarded to be patterned cats, with white body, auburn markings on the head and a colored tail. This is called the typical Van pattern. These cats have large eyes, which are oval in shape and expressive in nature. They can be found with a variety of eye colors, including blue, amber and even odd eyes, with pink rims. A Turkish Van cat is moderately long, has a short neck and its back legs are slightly longer than its front legs

Turkish Van cats are highly energetic, agile and intelligent. Like Turkish Angora, they are famous for their swimming prowess. They demand attention and are very attached to their human owners. These cats are quite affectionate and are known to display extreme loyalty. Just like dogs, Turkish Van cats can follow their owner wherever he/she goes. They are companionable and can get on well with dogs as well. The temperament of such cats will, more often than not, depend upon their upbringing, the amount of human contact and handling they received as kittens and the temperament of their mother. However, at times, they can get quite naughty and destructive also.