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Turkish Van Breed Profile

History of the Turkish Van:

Turkish VanAlso known as "the swimming cat", the Turkish Van (pronounced varn) is a natural breed occurring in the mountainous region of Lake Van in Turkey.

While holidaying in Turkey in 1955, two British women named Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday was on a photography holiday in Turkey where they observed longhaired cats white cats with ginger colouring on the head and tail. Laura and Sonia were given a pair of Van kittens which they brought back to England. When mated these cats bred true, producing offspring with the same colours and markings as the parents. They went on to acquire two more cats from Turkey to increase their breeding programme.

The breed was recognised in Britain by the GCCF 1969 & received official recognition from the FIFe in Europe in 1971. The CFA awarded them Championship status in 1994.

The cat is called Van Kedi in Turkey.

Appearance of the Turkish Van:

The Turkish van is a large and muscular breed of cat. The legs are of average length with round paws. The tail is in good proportion to the body.

The head is triangular, with round eyes, ears are set quite close together and pricked up. The nose is long, with a slight dip. Eye colour can be amber, blue or one of each.

The body is mostly white with a coat is semi-longhair; it doesn't have the woolly undercoat most cat breeds have. The Turkish van comes in the following colours red or cream; black; blue. The standard requires that the cat has no more than 20% colouring of the entire body.

Turkish Vans don't reach full maturity until they are 3 - 4 years of age.

Temperament of the Turkish Van

The Turkish Van is an extremely active cat. They have a great love of heights, are very dog like & happy to follow their owners around the house. However, it is on their terms. They can sometimes become attached to a particular member of the family.

They are most well known for their love of water. Many owners have watched their Turkish Van jump into a pond while chasing a bird, or happily sit outside in the rain. They are fascinated by dripping taps & don't even bother trying to discipline a Turkish Van with a spray gun, he will think it's a great game.


Regular grooming is required to keep the coat mat free. The coat sheds heavily once a year.


12-14 years.

Also see:

Cat breeds