Turkish Van auburn
Farfet Guzel Surpriz
Owner: Marianne Upham, Yenicizgi cattery, Ilminster, Somerset, UK

Turkish Van not equal to Turkish Van

Turkey denotes as Turkish Van a pure white Van cat with blue eyes or odd-eyed.
Especially odd-eyed and blue-eyed white cats are considered to bring luck.

Site of the Ministery of Culture and Tourism
In Turkish
Site of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism
in English
The office itself talks only of a white cat and only white cats are pictured at the page being the national cat of Turkey.
Site of the city of Van
in Turkish

The sign of city of Van is the  white Van kedisi.

Zoo of Ankara
in Turkish
Menu Memeliler [Alfabetik Indeks]:

Here one can find a list of animals at the right side, where the Ankara kedisi is listed as well as the  Van kedisi.

Site of City Edremit
in Turkish

In the issue of January of Cat World 1988 the Dutch breeders Bea and Leen Kort describe their journey to the Lake Van in 1987 to find the Van cats. They were made aware by Turkish people that a Van cat in Turkey is an all-white cat with blue eyes or odd-eyed. They only saw in that region white cats, longhaired and shorthaired. They only found one Turkish Van (black-white) with a bicolor black-whit male (more black than white). They took both cats home to the Netherlands.

In Cat Breeds of the World, Desmond Morris, 1996 and 1999 one can read that the TV-movie maker Roger Tabor made a trip to the lake Van in 1991 to make a film for the TV-series The Rise of the Cat. Also Tabor experienced that only white cats with blue eyes or odd-eyed are considered as Van cats by native Turkish people. Cats with an auburn Van-pattern were considered to be of less value.

Turkish Van auburn odd-eyed
Farfet Guzel Surpriz
Owner: Marianne Upham, Yenicizgi cattery, Ilminster, Somerset, UK


The Van-pattern is a bicolor pattern:

Van-pattern Between the ears there are two colored patches on the head separated by white.
The ears are white.
The body and the legs are white.
The tail is colored, the color reaches up to the crump.

The color patches may also be tortieshell, and may have also tabby stripes.


The Turkish Van, which had been imported from the Van region, is only recognized with the Van-pattern in almost all organizations.
The white color of the Van-pattern is somewhat different from the white in bicolor cats, it is white like chalk.

The color of the Van-pattern may be:

  • black, blue

  • red (called auburn), cream

  • tortieshell, blue-cream

  • with silver: smoke, for example black smoke, tortie smoke, etc.

  • All colors may have tabby stripes.

  • The pattern markings may also be with silver, for example red silver tabby, blue-cream silver tabby, etc.
    Colors with silver are not recognized in all organizations.

Turkish Van tortieshell
Yeni Yildiz N Cyprus
The origin of this cat is Cyprus.
Owner: Harvey Harrison, Angorarama cattery,  Costa Rica

Chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn are not recognized.

The eye color of Turkish Van, as in all bicolor varieties, may be:

  • blue

  • amber

  • odd eyed, one eye blue, the other eye amber

  • The amber color may have also a greenish cast.


Turkish Van white - Turkish Vankedisi

In some organizations the all-white Turkish Van is recognized, but grouped differently:
  • At TICA, LOOF it is a color in the Turkish Van, besides the Van-pattern.
  • At GCCF it is called Turkish Vankedisi.
Turkish Vankedisi
Jasmine of Angorarama
Breeder: Harvey Harrison, Angorarama cattery,  Costa Rica
The Vankedisi was imported by Lois Miles in 1992 to England, where got provisional status granted by GCCF on February 23, 2005.
In 2007 the color was recognized in the Turkish Van by TICA.

Turkish or Armenian or Anatolian cat?
A historical, not a political question

This question should be raised, independently from any politics or political statements from the parties involved, when it comes to the history of Armenia and Anatolia.

Armenia during the centuries
Historic map of Armenia

As one can see from this map, the Lake Van once belonged to Armenia (speaking from the region called Armenia!), before the region Armenia was split in 1920 and large parts came to the Ottoman empire (Turkey).

A History of Armenia, Vahan M. Kurkjian, 1958 published by the Armenian General Benevolent Union of America

Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations

Both ladies, Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington, had imported only a certain pattern of the Turkish Longhair, and as these cats originated from the Van region, they got the name Turkish Van. Thus one pattern became a cat breed.
It would be logical to call these cats Turkish (or Armenian) Longhair, like the shorthaired variety is consequently called Anatoli or Turkish Shorthair, because it originates from Anatolia and is recognized in all colors.

History of Anatolia, with many articles about the history of great ancient cities

History of Anatolia, detailed description of the different ages of Anatolia

Turkish Longhair black
Otan Ali
Picture: Harvey Harrison, Angorarama cattery,  Costa Rica
Turkish Longhair red bicolor
Natilla of Angorarama
Breeder: Harvey Harrison, Angorarama cattery,  Costa Rica

The Turkish Van originates from a region, where one must deal with its history and culture to understand that this cat breed is a great treasure.


Zoo in Ankara

How do the cats look like in the Zoo of Ankara?
Please do also remember that one can read that the Turkish Angora originates from Angora (the ancient name of Ankara).

Vankedisi Vankedisi
The cats look like the Turkish Vankedisi.
Pictures by the courtesy of Harvey Harrison, 2006.

Yüzüncu-Yil-university in Van

The link to the article of the university (click on the title) describes only all-white Van cats, their general behavior (which they share with all other cat breeds), their feeding, giving birth (the litter sizes has an average number), and that the cats are very affectionate and like to play. Unfortunately this article does not write anything about the history of the Van cat.

In the campus of the university is a research center, which deals with the Van cats.
If one searches the Internet with the keyword 'Yüzüncü Yil university Van cat', one will find articles, about which one starts to think.
It would be interesting to get reports, which actions were taken to conserve the breed of Van cats and how to increase their distribution.

Distribution of blood types A and B in the Turkish Van and Turkish Angora

According to this study of the university neonatal isoerythrolysis (incompatibility of blood types, premature death of kittens) has been detected in these breeds.
Therefore breeders should have cats of those breeds blood typed before using them for breeding and one should be cautious concerning blood transfusions.

A different pair of eyes, by gate to turkey



The Turkish Van Site, Pairodocs Turkish Vans from Karen Hooker

Hayastan (old name of Armenia), History of Armenia, You will find here interesting articles about the history of Armenia, with many beautiful pictures.

History of Turkey,

Complete Cat Encyclopedia, Grace Pond, Crown Publishers, New York, 1972, ISBN 517-500-175

Katzen, die neue Enzyklopädie (Cats, the new encyclopedia), Bruce Fogle, Dorling Kinderley, München 2002, ISBN 3-8310-0287-8

Literature list to the traveler's book of Evliya Çelebis in the German National Library about Evliya Çelebis, you may also read about Melek Ahmed Pasha, the Ottoman Greater Vizier and his wife Kaya Sultan (daughter of the sultan Murad IV).

Cat Breeds of the World, Desmond Morris, Viking Adult, 1999, ISBN-10 0670886394, ISBN-13 978-0670886395



Standard AACE
Standard ACF
Standard ACFA
Standard CCA
Standard CFA
Standard CFF
Standard FIFe
Standard GCCF
(You must buy the booklet.)
Standard LOOF
Standard SACC
Standard TICA
Standard WCF
Show Turkish Van breeders
Enter cattery into breeders list

Breed profile

The Turkish Van is a medium to large sized, sturdy cat with semi-long coat with a Van-pattern.

The head is medium to large sized, with high cheek bones, and narrows slightly downwards to the muzzle, thus building a triangle with rounded sides (no straight lines). The muzzle shows a slight whisker break and is rounded. The nose has a slight dip at the lower eye level. In general the head is medium in length.
The ears are medium large with slightly rounded tips and open at the base, they are set rather high on the head.
The eyes are rounded (not quite round), medium in size and slightly slanted. Eye color may be blue, amber (also with a slight greenish cast) or odd-eyed.
The neck is not too long and may display a full ruff in winter.

The body is longer, sturdy and very solid, with firm muscles and full chest. Bones are medium. The legs are medium in length, with solid muscles and round paws, which are tufted between the toes. The tail is medium in length and plume-like.

The coat is semi-long and does have any woolly undercoat. But the cats have a different coat in winter and in summer, caused by the extremely different climatic situation in the region of their origin. In winter the coat is much longer and thicker, with a full ruff in adult cats. In summer the coat is rather short, one can only see on the tail that it is a semi-longhaired cat.
Coat is soft and feels like cashmere, it is water repellent, but the single hairs are rather fine. In winter the coat stands slightly off from the body.

It is said that Van cats like to swim, that why they are often called the "swimming cats".
The development of the Van cat is slow, especially concerning the coat.




There had been found relicts, banners and weapons, from an ancient battle during the occupation of Armenia by the Romans (75-387 AD), which picture a white cat with 2 colored spots on its head and a colored, ringed tail. See at Katzen, die neue Enzyklopädie by Bruce Fogle (pages 216-217).

Evliya Çelebis (March 25, 1611 - 1683) describes in the Seyahatnâme (10 books) in one part called Travel from Bitlis to Van (book IV and V) also Van cats. This travel journal describes the culture, buildings, the country and the people, their songs and customs. Evliya Çelebis traveled from 1640 through many countries of the huge Ottoman empire and noted everything of interest, which was remarkable. Evliya Çelebis had been three times in Bitlis, in 1655 and in 1565.


Two English photographers, Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington, working for the office of tourism in the region of Van, imported in 1955 Van cats (two cats with the Van-pattern) to England. They got one female in Eastern Turkey, and one male from the hotel manager in Istanbul. The cats produced kittens, which all had the Van-pattern and were true breeding. The names of the first kittens were: Burdur, Bysantium, Antalya Anatolia and Van Guzelli Iskenderum. In 1959 they imported three more cats, in 1980 two more cats, and in 1982 one cat more. These cats are the foundation lines of the classic English Turkish Van.
The Turkish Van was recognized by GCCF in 1969 in the colors auburn and cream, and in 2000 all other colors were recognized. Originally these cats were called Turkish Cats in GCCF, but were re-named to Turkish Van in 1979.

The first Van cats were imported to the USA in the early 1970s by service men working in Turkey. TICA recognized the Turkish Van for championship in 1979 in auburn and cream, and recognized all other color in 1988.
In 1983 Barbara and Jack Reark (Matabiru cattery), Miami, Florida, imported a pair of Van cats from France and three cats from the Netherlands. They had been the ones, who propagated the Turkish Van in USA.
Dei von Saxe-Coburg (Stellamaris cattery) started to become interested in Van cats in the mid 1980s and wrote the first standard for CFA. In May 1994 the breed was recognized for championship.
In 1971 the breed was recognized by FIFe in auburn and cream, and in 1997 all other colors were recognized.


In the legend there were also two white cats on board of Noah's ark, some 4300 years ago. According to the Old Testament, which reports about the Great Flood, Noah always took a pair of each species into his arc. After months of heavy storm in the Great Flood, which God had predicted to Noah, the arc stranded on Mount Ararat, the highest volcanic mountain of Mesopotamia (today Eastern Turkey). When Noah put down the wooden stairs the two cats ran out from the arc, and the stairs hit their tail, which turned into fiery auburn. After months in darkness the sun blended the cats so much that they became blind (may be that is the reason, why the eye color is blue, amber or odd-eyed, instead of being orange).
God felt very sorry for these two cats and touched their forehead to bless them, and thus the cats got an auburn colored patch on their head, the finger print of God. The cats ran down the mountain to the ancient city of Van, where they found many fish in the huge lake. The cats started to breed, and of course, all their kittens liked to swim in the water and to fish.
There are references in Armenian legends to swimming Van cats.



Turkish Van have a very good hunting instinct, it is said that they like water. Before they get acquainted to a new home, the inspect and investigate their new home very carefully, if everything is right for them. They do not allow free roaming cats to enter their house, they tend to become jealous, if their owner spends too much time with other cats. But they can be trained easily, because they learn very fast, thus learning also many other tricks. Unfortunately they also learn very fast to open doors and to open shelves.
The Turkish Van needs much attention, which shall be noted, when it comes to breeding. The more the kittens are handled the more they will have a lovely temperament, because they have a tendency to become tough.
The cats are very affectionate and loyal to their owner, give head buds and kisses.



Grooming is not too difficult, because their coat does not have a wooly undercoat. The coat has little tendency to become filthy or knotted. The white color remains surprisingly white and does get a yellow tinge (yellow patches like in other Bi-colors). Regular bathing is not necessary, except for show cats. However, it is recommended to brush their coat regularly.


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