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Turkish Van Cat

Turkish Van Cat photo

male Turkish Van cat, 15 year old
Photograph by Helen Filatova. Some rights reserved.

The Turkish Van is a sturdy, medium sized domestic cat breed. Vans have long, muscular bodies with medium-long legs and round and well tufted paws. Adult males weigh on average 14-16 pounds while females 12-14 pounds. Turkish Van cats have short heads with medium large, well furnished ears with rounded tips. Their eyes are large, oval and set slightly oblique. They are either blue or light amber; many Turkish Vans are born odd eyed, with one of their eyes being blue and the other light amber. The coat is semi long, fine and silky to the touch. Vans have characteristic bushy tails that give them a fox appearance and are usually colored differently to the rest of their body.




The traditional coat pattern is chalk-white body with colored markings to the head and the tail. Over the years Van cats have been bred in other colors including cream, black, blue etc.


Turkish Van cats are famous for their love of water. Many have been found to swim in the bath, a pool, a pond or even join their owners in the shower. These are loyal, loving and intelligent cats. They will give their owners head butts, follow them around like dogs and get involved in everything they do. They are very playful and get on well with other pets, but they will always want to be the boss. Some cats have been known to be quite destructive, shredding curtains, scratching furniture, knocking vases down etc. Sometimes this behavior is deliberate as they are trying to get their owners' attention.

Suitable for

Turkish Van cats get along with children and pets and would suit a family. This breed enjoys the outdoors, especially if there are areas with water, but is also able to adapt to apartment life.


It is one of the few semi longhaired breeds that requires little grooming. Most individuals of this breed enjoy water so giving them a bath would be more of a cat-owner bonding experience than a problem. There are no breed specific genetic problems.


One of the oldest naturally occurring cat breeds, it originates in the Lake Van region of Turkey. These cats were "discovered" in the mid 1950's by two English women who were taking a holiday in the Lake Van area. They took a couple of kittens back to England and starting breeding them. The breed was recognized in Britain in 1969. It did not make to the United States until 1982 and was officially registered there only in 1985.