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The Turkish Van is a breed of domestic cat that was developed in the UK from cats that had been imported from Turkey. It is noted for its van pattern, where the colour on the cat is restricted to the head and the rest of the cat is white.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.


In 1955, two women were given some local cats while on a trip to Turkey and decided to bring them back to England to breed them. Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday brought cats from across Turkey over a number of years including from Hatay Province, Istanbul, Antalya and Burdur between 1955 and 1959.

The breed spread to the US in 1982 and was accepted by the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) in 1994. However, it remains a very rare breed with only 100 cats born each year in the country. Because cats can still be imported from the Lake Van area, the genetic diversity of the breed is very strong and these are the only cats allowed to breed with the Turkish Van to maintain purity. All cats today have some connection back to the original cats brought to England in the 1950s.

Originally, the cats were known as the Turkish cat in 1969 when the breed was first recognised. By 1979, this had been changed to the Turkish Van to differentiate it from the Angora, the other Turkish cat breed.


General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

The Turkish Van has a semi-longhaired coat with only one of the three types of coat hairs. Normally, a cat has guard hair, awn hair and down hair making up their coat but the Van only has one with no evident undercoat. This means their fur is very soft and feels like rabbit fur or cashmere as well as giving them a very sleek appearance. Despite this, it is a very water repellent coat meaning that bathing these cats can be tricky.

In terms of size, the Van is one of the larger cats and has broad shoulders with a long body and back legs that are slightly longer than the front ones. Male cats can weigh 16 pounds while females are be 12-14 pounds and have large paws. Their muscular structure is strong meaning they are very agile jumpers but can take a long time to mature, as much as three years in total.


Early in their development, the Van could be an aggressive cat but the modern breed is very social and friendly towards people. They bond strongly with their owners and are very active and playful. They will often learn tricks such as fetching a toy. They have retained a fascination with water that may come from their ancestor's lake dwelling location and some will enjoy playing in water.

Breed standard

To be qualified as a pedigree Van, no more than 20% of the cat's coat can be coloured though some random spots are accepted as long as they don't give the appearance of a bicoloured cat. The rest of the cat is white. The traditional colours for the pattern include red, cream, black, blue, tabby patterns in these colours, tortoiseshells and any other colour as long as it is not a result of hybridisation with another breed, such as Siamese point markings.

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
Updated: February 24, 2017 — 5:38 pm

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