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Turkish Van Breed Summary

Playful, Intelligent, Athletic

Beautiful and rare, the Turkish Van is a charming cat that's purrfectly playful with a pawticular fondness of water! In fact, the Turkish Van is often nicknamed the “swimming cat” because of their love of water. It's not unusual to find them splashing in ponds, pools or any other water they can find!

While this cat is more likely to be found exerting their energy by jumping up to the highest bookshelf or playing with their toys, the Van is quite happy to cuddle next to you or sleep on your bed when it's time to unwind.

Fun Fact: Many Turkish Vans have a small mark between their shoulder blades called “the thumbprint of God” and it's thought to bring good luck.

Lifespan 13 – 17 years
Height (at the withers) Males and Females: 9in – 11in
Weight Males: Up to 15lb, Females: 11lb - 13lb
Coat Semi-long, soft, cashmere-like single coat
Color White with dark coloring on head and tail
Eye color Amber, blue
Common health issues Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Other Names Turkish Cat, Van
The fun-loving Turkish Van is an energetic, playful cat. These kitties require a lot of attention from their families, so they're best suited to people who can give a lot of their time to them. They're also pretty sprightly on their feet! In fact, the International Cat Association says that “Their powerful hind legs mean they are great jumpers and climbers so expect to find them atop the bookcase or in some other aery they have located as a great place to ensure they can see everything going on in their world.”

However, while the Van is highly energetic and athletic, they aren't the most graceful. In fact, the big and ungainly Van isn't a cat that'll always land on their feet! But show the Van some water, and they'll take to it like a duck... or, cat to water.

If the Turkish Van is properly socialized as a kitten, they can grow into social, affectionate cats that become particularly attached to one or two members of their family but on their own terms! This kitty doesn't like to be held or cuddled for too long (so you'll just have to play it like a cool cat).

An intelligent breed, the Turkish Van enjoys learning tricks, games and playing fetch. They also like teaser toys as they can act out pouncing on prey.

Like many cat breeds, no one knows about the Turkish Van's true origins. According to legend, the Turkish Van's ancestors sailed aboard Noah's Ark. As the boat arrived at Mount Ararat (a volcanic mountain in eastern Turkey and the vessel's mythical landing place), the cats jumped off and swam for dry land. God blessed these cats and his divine touch caused their white coats to develop their unique coloration; these cats became the forerunners of the Turkish Van breed.

In reality, the Turkish Van breed most likely developed in central and southwest Asia. It's thought that they've lived in Turkey's isolated Lake Van region – a mountainous area, home to the country's largest lake – for generations. Evidence of their existence comes from local legends, traditional folk songs and ancient artefacts that reference the Van and its unusual markings. The Turkish Van has also been spotted in neighboring countries including Iran, Iraq and parts of the former Soviet Union.