Difference Between Turkish Van & Turkish Angora Cats

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They share a common place of origin, but the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora are two distinct breeds with differences in their histories and physical appearances. Even when it comes to their personalities, one surprising pastime preference differentiates the two cats.

Origin and History

The Turkish Van is named after Lake Van, which is located in the Anatolian mountains of Turkey. This is the vicinity where the Turkish Van is believed to have originated as far back in time as the Middle Ages. During the 1950s, a pair of visiting photographers returned to England with two of the long-haired kittens. The cats were bred and promoted as a rare breed. The Turkish Van first appeared in the United States in 1982. The International Cat Association and the Cat Fancier's Association officially recognized the Turkish Van in 1979 and 1994, respectively. The Turkish Van remains a rare breed today.

The Turkish Angora also hails from Turkey. Also named for the place where she originated, the Turkish Angora was first seen in the Ankara region, which was formerly known as Angora. During the early 1900s, which was the dawn of the cat show circuit, Persian cat breeders in Europe admired the Turkish Angoras and began using the cats in their breeding programs. This led to a dangerously low number of the purebred Turkish Angoras, which were prized as national treasures in their native country. The Ankara Zoo responded by making it their mission to establish their own breeding program to preserve the Turkish Angora breed. These cats did not make their way into the United States until the 1960s. By 1978, the Turkish Angora achieved full recognition status in the Cat Fancier's Association. The breed is also recognized by The International Cat Association.

Physical Appearance

The Turkish Van is a large cat who can weigh as much as 20 pounds. Her physique is muscular and athletic. The single-layered coat is semi-long and luxuriously soft. The coat is dirt and water resistant. The hair grows longer during the colder months and sheds back to a shorter length during the hot season. These qualities enabled the Turkish Van to endure the climate changes in the mountain region where she roamed for centuries. The coat color is white with markings on the plumed tail and on top of the cat's head. The pattern is called the Van pattern, and may be seen in other feline breeds. The markings traditionally were red in color, but today's Turkish Van may exhibit markings in any color or pattern except for the colorpoints seen on the Siamese. Some of the accepted colors and patterns include:

  • Cream.

  • Red.
  • Black.
  • Blue.
  • Silver.
  • Tabby.
  • Tortoiseshell.
  • Smoke.

The Turkish Van's eyes may be blue, amber or odd-eyed, meaning each of the two eyes is a different color.

The Turkish Angora is a small to medium-sized cat whose average weight ranges between 5 and 9 pounds. The Turkish Angora is fine-boned and graceful and is deceptively strong for her elegant stature. Her semi-long coat is silky and her tail is plumed. Like the Turkish Van, her coat grows longer for the cold season. Traditionally, the Turkish Angora's coat was solid white. This was the only color accepted by the Cat Fancier's Association when the organization first recognized the breed in 1972. Beginning in 1978, the Cat Fancier's Association accepted the Turkish Angora with any coloring except for chocolate, lilac and the pointed colors as seen on the Siamese cats. In today's shows, Turkish Angoras may be seen in a variety of colors and patterns, including:

  • White.

  • Cream.
  • Red.
  • Blue.
  • Black.
  • Tortoiseshell.
  • Tabby.
  • Calico.
  • Smoke.

Temperament Traits

The Turkish Van is an active, intelligent, affectionate and social cat. She thrives on being airborne and soaring to high structures. She is playful and enjoys interactive games that involve chasing and retrieving. Turkish Vans are curious and want to be involved in household activities. They get along with children and other household pets. The most unique trait of her personality earns her the nickname of swimmer cat. The Turkish Van loves to splash and paddle around in water.

The Turkish Angora is an engaging, curious, assertive and intelligent cat who thrives on delighting her owner with mischievous feats. Her slender stature provides the grace of a ballerina, yet her toned muscle enables her to achieve impressive agility in her movements. The Turkish Angora gets along with children and other pets, and she insists on a captive audience. With the exception of the Turkish Van's penchant for water fun, the Turkish Angora shares a similar temperament to the Turkish Van.

Healthy and Hardy

The Turkish Van is a rare breed who evolved naturally over centuries before captive breeding programs began. One advantage of such natural development is robust health. The Turkish Van has no known breed-specific genetic health concerns.

There are two concerns of note when it comes to the Turkish Angora's health. One of the potential genetic health problems is congenital deafness in blue-eyed or odd-eyed white cats. The other health concern is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a cardiac disease in which the heart muscle is thickened.

Both the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora live average life spans of 13 to 15 years.

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