The Real Turkish Angora

Turkish Angora in Ankara Zoo

Turkish Angora in Ankara Zoo – the “Real Turkish Angora”. Photo by Angora Cat Association.

The origins and history of the Turkish Angora are interesting and perhaps a paradigm case of how all ‘discovered’ breeds started out and how many of the cat breeds still have their non-pedigree, non-purebred counterparts. The street cats that were the foundation cats of the discovered breeds are still there on the streets. They are the ‘real cat breeds’. Although ironically, technically speaking they are not cat breeds because they are moggies. The Egyptian Mau is another classic case. A breed yet to be created, the Bahraini Dilmun, is a further example.

The Turkish Angora (TA) has a long history and is a distinguished cat breed. It really should be more popular than it is. It has everything that the Maine Coon has. There are few breeders in the United States and the US is the biggest domestic cat market by far. I wonder why there are so few cat breeders? It is not an unpopular breed being ranked about 20th out of about 60 cats in this site’s long standing poll.

It has been suggested that the Turkish Angora (TA) originated from the wild cat the Manul (Pallas Cat). Incidentally, Gloria Stephens in Legacy of the Cat (a fine book) gets this wrong by writing the “Manul cat..or Chinese desert cat… The Chinese desert cat is not the Manul it is a subspecies of wildcat. But the wildcat is now considered certainly to be the wild ancestor of the domestic cat, specifically the African wildcat and/or Near Eastern Wildcat (African Asian wildcat). That takes us back to the beginning.


The above images copyright Angora Cat Association are thumbnails and can enlarged by clicking on them.


Jumping thousands of years forward we come to the street cats of Turkey. There are a range of moggies on the streets of Turkey. Some are and were bicolor cats and some were white cats. These are typical of places such as Turkey. There were, and still are, cat with a variety of other coat types on the street cats of Turkey. Tabbies are one example.

Some of the bicolor long haired cats had unusual markings; an inverted V on the forehead and a colored tail but white elsewhere. These were chosen in the mid 1900s to become the Turkish Van. The white cat with the odd-eye color or blue eyes was chosen to become the Turkish Angora in the West (but see below). They both come from the same street cat, random bred, stock. They were separated and developed into distinct purebred, pedigree cats.

In the place of its ‘origin’, Turkey, the Turkish Angora is essentially a moggie, and a very attractive one. It is a fancy, purebred, ‘refined’ cat in the West. However, it is difficult to say that any one cat has an origin in one place. The domestic cat started in the Near East and spread from there. You can read about that process on this page.

This is where I would like to introduce what the Angora Cat Association in Turkey say about this famous cat. What they say counts. Firstly they make the point that all the long haired Turkish street cats, whatever their color, are ‘more or less’ Angoras. The Angora is a ‘breed of Turkish street cat’. They refer to the Turkish Angora as the “Angora”.

In Turkey not even the Turkish Angora is a pedigree, purebred cat. Even the special ones in the Ankara Zoo are moggies. The cats in the zoo are all whites (see pictures above). In Turkey, non-white long haired street cats are also treated as Angoras by many (not everyone, apparently). These non-purebred Angoras are more pure Turkish Angora than the highly selectively bred cats of American and Europe, in my opinion.

The Angora Cat Association in Turkey (ACA) say that the modern Turkish Angora in the West hardly looks the original cat. This is due to selective breeding to a ‘type’ (appearance) that is removed from the original. There was no attempt to maintain the original appearance. The selective breeding by breeders in the West is based on their preferences, what they think looks nice and interesting, not a desire to be faithful to the original. Also the ACA make the point that the desire to expand a cat breed to include a wider range of coat types has resulted in the TA in the West having a pointed coat which is never seen in Turkey.

ACA make the interesting point that UC Davis Genome Project concluded that the current TA is genetically closer to the Egyptian Mau and cats in Tunisia than Turkish cats. The TA is a ‘mix of many cats’. This is classic random breeding. Although, I would suggest that despite that, the TAs in Ankara Zoo have a similarity of appearance that goes beyond just the white, longhaired coat. This would indicate to me that the street cats of Turkey or a segment of them have a particular genotype (genetic makeup) that expresses itself in what I consider to be the real Turkish Angora appearance.

Associated post: First we should know what Turkish, Turkish Angoras look like. And also see the page on the Angora cat.


Comments

The Real Turkish Angora — 28 Comments

  1. Thank you very much, Michael!

    We are very impressed by your post and thankful for your good words about our association. Many people are unaware how different Turkish cats are compared to USA/EU Turkish Angora and the title ”The Real Turkish Angora’ was very well chosen!

    There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and we put forth our best effort to research and represent our native, ancient and beautiful cats correctly.

    Currently we are working on our website and soon we will publish the results of our research, including L. Lyons genetic studies. This is going to be very interesting and never seen anywhere else. Pictures and information about pointed Turkish Angora cats will be found in our website too. More to come!

    Many thanks.

    Warm Regards,

    Angora Cat Association, TURKEY (ACA)

    • Thank you for your valuable advice. I agree with all you say. It is nice to look at ‘cat breeds’ from a fresh point of view. Most sites – all other sites – just say the same old stuff, copying each other. I love the natural cats. The ‘real cats’. The breeders should start again with two of your cats in Ankara Zoo! :)

      Michael

    • Hi Dan, yes they are beautiful cats. You know, I was thinking this morning as I woke up, if I wanted to adopt a purebred cat, I would like to adopt a Real Turkish Angora. It would be very special to look after one of those Ankara white Angoras. The real thing. No made up cat (a hybrid), but the genuine article, the way they have been for a very long time.

  2. My last kitty was a turkish angora. She died last April at 20-years old. Your article is very helpful. I’ve been shocked in looking for another cat how difficult it is to find another solid white angora. My cat wasn’t what I would consider a show quality cat, her and her sister were house pets I had since I was a little girl. Although, I’ve had a very difficult time searching for a new kitten with the same or similar look. I’m actually considering switching to a Persian Doll-Face like you talk about. Some of the angora cats look more like short-hairs in the U.S.- why is this?

    • Not sure why Angoras (I presume you mean Turkish Angoras) look like shorthairs except to say that breeders in the US pretty much decide for themselves what a cat breed should look like and it bears little resemblance often to the original cat.

      So breeders tend to selectively breed the cat away from its origins. Doll face Persians are beautiful and more like the original. I favour naturalness as you can guess because it is better all round for a cat to be normal and natural.

      Here is a page on Yeri a fine white trad Persian.

    • Hi Tara. In Feb 2011 my TA Virgil, an odd-eyed white male, died suddenly in my lap at age 13. I’ve never had a more affectionate pet. So I too searched online, looking for two kittens and, out of sheer gratitude for the joy and wonder this exquisite creature has brought me, a retired show cat to pamper in her golden years. Let me agree with Michael–why is this stunning breed not popular? I too was surprised at the difficulty in finding white TAs. But the small-scale breeders I dealt with have earned my highest respect. They carefully vet potential clients to make sure their pets will find good homes. It’s true that these breeders are avidly producing new coat colors, but I think their motives are good–first, they hope to strengthen the TA’s presence within the purebred associations (which should help them fare better in the marketplace), and second, they are allowing the TA’s beauty to express itself in a variety of forms.
      I am hardly qualified to say whether the Turkish TA or the American is the better cat. But in my view the American TA wonderfully combines the beauties of the Asian and the European domestic cat. It has the shimmering silky long coat (complete with mane and plumed tail) and the powerful hind legs of the Euro, with the long, lean athletic build and daintier bone structure of the Asian. To me, the wedge-shaped head is the perfect middle between the round cobby and the flat elongated shapes.
      I know nothing about the Turkish breed’s personality, but the American is sweet and affectionate, remarkably intelligent, vainly fond of being admired, and delightfully silly. I ended up with two blue / white bicolored with emerald eyes (and I love the almond-shaped eyes with their slight oriental tilt) and a white with amber eyes and, yes, a short-coated torso. [I actually flew from Arkansas to Florida to meet the breeder and my white kitty, as did the couple who bought the other white in the litter; so, please, American breeders, more whites!] No breeder would sell a kitten younger than 14 weeks, and mine were obviously raised with loving care to help make them happier cats and better pets.
      I would encourage you, Tara, to attend some cat shows and meet today’s American TA. When I did this I found the same “essence” (sorry for the vagueness) as my beloved Virgil.
      As for the “true” breed, cat-breed genomes are continually being discovered and should, in a technical sense, resolve any debate about an individual cat’s purity. But since for over 20 years the domestic cat has become the world’s most popular housepet (and the numbers continue to increase rapidly), history has intertwined the destinies of humanity and the feline. I can harldy overstate how much time I spend learning to think like a cat. Cats can change people, for the better; not, of course, the way that breeders are changing cats. But let’s not underestimate the feline. Arguably, the domestic cat invented itself in ancient Egypt or, I’ve read recently, in southeast Anatolia. I mean literally: it may have genetically self-selected to charm humans into serving it. And the TA breeders I’ve met believe they are in fact serving it, teasing out physical beauties and psychological complexities that a feral or wildcat has no leisure to indulge. To conclude a regrettably long message, these breeders are losing money and all work one or two full-time jobs to support their household industry. Their motives are good, whatever one thinks of the results of their efforts.
      Best regards to all who adore the TA in one or more of its versions.
      Ron

  3. Hello, Tara McGuire. We are sorry for your loss.

    We would like to explain why in US Angoras look like short-hairs. This is not only selective breeding like Michael said.

    The Angora in US and Europe is no longer a genuine Angora found in Turkey. It looks different, is genetically different… because it’s no longer natural breed. Out-crossing in early 1950’s changed the type drastically. You know, breeders will deny this, but it’s evident (unusual recessive colors like pointed, lilac which indicate outcrossing to Siamese/Oriental type of cats, often occur in ”pedigree” Angoras).

    I hope breeders will return to breeding real Angora, but that would mean they have to neuter all cats they got and start from beginning… And they won’t do this, because real Angora cats won’t do well at cat shows. Also standards are made for their created Angora breed, not the real one.

    Turkish Van still looks like a cat from Turkey. Some Van kedisi/Turkish Van (especially imported Angoras registered as Van cats) may have a nice long fur.

    Doll-faced Persian is a beautiful cat. However its fur is not low maintenance, compared to Angora cats.

    All the best,

    Angora Cat Association, TURKEY

  4. Hello, Ron Boling

    You are right there isn’t any information about Ankara Zoo cats, however there is virtually nothing about turkish cats in general. Soon we hope to update our website and make information about turkish cats available for everybody who wants to learn about Angora cats from their homeland.

    American TA is an elegant and distinct looking cat, but its not a good Representative of Angora morphologically and genetically. I dare to say, it’s a different cat breed. It’s truth, Ankara Zoo cats and other turkish imports were used to develop this breed but also they were bred to Siamese and orientals and who knows what to achieve the desirable ”belly dancer” type. This thin boned, large eared cat with straight profile is unseen in general population of Turkish cats. We will share many photo albums of our native cats in our website soon so you will have a better idea what they look like. It’s going to be a biggest collection of pictures of turkish cats.

    American and European breeders may breed good tempered and nice cats, but still those cats are the least pure Angoras. It would be wise if they used a different name for their created breed, because real Turkish Angoras are here, freely roaming on our streets. These cats are maybe even purer than white Ankara Zoo cats. We advice people if they want to get Angora cat, they should look for longhair cats in turkish streets… These cats don’t look like American bred show ”champions” but they are no less beautiful and very friendly cats. Most importantly those are cats having ancestors at least 10 000 years old; due to natural selection Angora cats are very healthy.

    ”Their motives are good, whatever one thinks of the results of their efforts”.

    Motives of the breeder may good (and we certainly can learn many things about breeding from them) but its not enough. In fact, the cat they have is no way”purebred” and has little or no relation to the real Angora, found in Turkey. Many people buy their cats because they believe they will get pure example of the breed, but its not truth.

    In 1950-1960’s when breeding of Angoras started in America, the aim was not to protect and save the real Angora, but to change, ”perfect” it and it was achieved by various ways, mainly by outcrossing and using selective breeding. Many breeders tell us that their TUA’s are purebred because they have a pedigree.Pedigree for a natural cat breed is only useful as a paper showing parents and grandparents of the cat, but it says absolutely nothing about its purity.

    ”These breeders are losing money and all work one or two full-time jobs to support their household industry”

    Many of those breeders are from middle class and many of them have jobs besides breeding cats. Well, in Turkey we still have no professional Angora breeders. Many could not afford such an expensive hobby also selling Angora cats to other turkish people is not profitable.

    At last, breeders of cats are more interested in cat shows. Talking about Angora breeders, if they breed a cat which is no longer Angora, it really doesn’t help for our real Angoras, but only devalue them as simple ”wild dirty street cats”. They are put down because they don’t have a ”pedigree”. . In short, they do NOT protect or help our Angoras and its not relevant for us will it hurt their financial situation if they won’t be able to sell these cats.

    We think people deserved to know the truth about turkish cats. Our aim is to represent our native cat correctly, fight with misinformation and lies.

    Kind Regards

    Angora Cat Association, TURKEY

  5. Dear Angora Cat Association:

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply so informatively to my posting. Although I am passionately fond of domestic cats, and especially of the TA as I know it, I am an amateur with limited knowledge and no experience of cat breeding. (I am even anxious about witnessing a queen giving birth because I might faint!)

    I have read that in the 1950s, when foreigners began importing Angoras from Turkey, they outbred them in order to improve other breeds. Some two decades passed before the American CFA granted TAs full purebred status. I have always assumed that the American TA is the result of selective breeding (of TA with TA). In fact, I am confident that this has been the practice of the breeders I know. But your message, with its historical perspective, has made me realize that I really have no idea how much cross-breeding occurred in the early years. Unless I learn otherwise, I will assume the integrity of the CFA’s (and TICA’s) pedigree records. But I also know that when historians trace a given process, the “document trail” always becomes thinner. According to the CFA’s official handbook, the TA was accepted “for registration” in 1968; in 1970 white TAs were granted “provisional status” and, it seems, full status in 1972. Some TA breeders were no doubt building their pedigree portfolios before 1968, and during these key years many more breeders must have contributed immensely to the CFA records, as have succeeding generations of breeders. What little I know leaves me with two questions. The first is obvious enough: how many pedigrees date back to the 1950s, to the original Turkish cats? The second, perhaps unfortunately, reflects my own obsessive mentality: taken as a math problem, it seems theoretically impossible for any record system to be complete, and in the realm of historical contingency, it is demonstrably impossible. Here’s the unfortunate part. I am not especially concerned about the completeness of CFA documentation. Instead I am banging my head through a labyrinth: how important is completion? What is completion, or how is it defined by . . . Question within a question–are genetics and genealogy the same?

    I am sane enough to know when to change the topic. Your message claims, astonishingly, that the Angoras of Turkey date back at least 10,000 years (were they domesticated by then? are they genetically unrelated to the North African wildcat domesticated in Egypt?). I honestly can hardly wait for your website to publish its research. Is your site turkishangoracat.org?

    I must respectfully disagree with you about a couple of matters. You have already inferred that the breeders I know provide pedigrees that go back many generations, not merely two. You dismiss American breeding as “an expensive hobby” that Turkish people cannot indulge in, yet you acknowledge that nobody there would buy these cats; my greedy American mind suspects that economics explains your native lack of breeders. I think the real point behind your comment is that American breeders are not scientists. Is this correct?

    Yes, American breeders are interested in cat shows, but they are also committed to providing good pets for responsible owners. Scientists can claim greater authority for maintaining genetic bloodlines, yet they usually raise their cats in cages, which is no way to produce a good pet.

    I am deeply saddened by your observation that foreign breeding has caused Turkish cats to be “devalued.” I was not aware of this problem and hope your website suggests some ways to help. Hundreds of millions of people love cats–many of them would eagerly adopt Turkish cats if they only knew the situation. I must be honest here: foreigners believe that the Turkish government makes it difficult to acquire your cats. Is this true? Whatever the case, we need to find ways to disseminate your website’s information.

    I wish to conclude by commending Michael. Having thoroughly explored this site, I am impressed by the remarkable amount of productive work you do–and have done for years. Thank you.

    Warm regards to the ACA,

    Ron Boling

    • Thanks Ron :) I think this discussion about the real Turkish Angora is one of the most interesting and most important on the entire site as it goes to heart of what the cat fancy is about. Thanks for taking the time to write such a full comment.

  6. Hi Michael.

    Thank you for encouraging this discussion and, in fact, for hosting it. ACA’s facebook page is not a useful forum for people who cannot read Turkish, though (like its website) it provides gorgeous photos that are helping me discover the native TA’s exquisite beauty. I’m now preoccupied with wondering, How could I not have known this? I remain enchanted with American TAs and my own trio of them, but I anticipate a new enchantment on the horizon.

    This morning I read everything in English on the ACA website and am loaded with new questions, so I look forward to continuing the discussion and am gratified that you share my sense of its potential value.

    Regards,

    Ron

    • Great. I really like the Turkish, Turkish Angora. I think the TA should be more popular and it has a very long history. I see it as one of the most important cat breeds. I quite like the idea of a Turkish, Turkish Angora as a cat companion but I don’t think it will happen.

      • Hi Michael.

        I’ve been busy of late as, evidently, have the ACA. So let me ask you a perhaps obvious question, prompted partly by your final line above: Why are there not Turkish people selling spayed or neutered TAs as pets to cat lovers abroad? I can think of no better means to disseminate accurate information about the “TTA,” as well as to raise its profile among the international purebred-cat community. Are there political or cultural impediments to vending the TTA abroad? Even neutered cats?

        Regards,
        Ron

        • That obviously occurred to me as well. I don’t have an answer. American breeders ship all over the world. I love the “real TA”! If I was in the market for adopting another cat I could think of no more interesting or special cat than a Turkish Turkish Angora. I am sure there would be lots of interested people especially in America. It would be great to go back to the beginning, turn the clock back and ignore all the breeding that took place between discovery hundreds of years ago and today. That suits me but not a lot other people.

  7. Hi Michael.

    Although I’ve been too busy lately to sustain the conversation, I’ve kept up reading and wish to pose a question that is probably more philosophical than scientific.

    From Sue Hubbell’s _Shrinking the Cat_, Sanderson and Watson’s new (and deplorably edited) _Small Wild Cats_, a piece by Stephen J. O’Brien, and several other reputable authors I cannot recall, I gather that a crucial morphological distinction between F Silvestris and the domestic cat concerns brain size and neocortical folding. I would love it if you could end my torment by referring me to an accurate account of these brain differences,so I must offer estimates, likely unfirmly grounded. But evidently the early domestic cat’s brain shrank rapidly and substantially, becoming perhaps 20% smaller than that of Silvestris, and in the cat’s cortical lobes central to the sensoria the neuron count runs about a third lower than its ancestor’s.
    If something like this is the case, however genetically unsullied the Turkish TA may be, morphologically speaking isn’t a sylvestris a sylvestris and a catus a catus? Though you hardly need me to do this, I’ll put the matter a couple of ways. Granted a TTA with a peerless 8000-year pedigree, is it in any way (morphologically or genetically) closer to its wildcat ancestor? What sort of purity does it possess, and what makes this purity valuable?
    You (and I) admire the gorgeous coat colors the TTA now boasts. But, assuming its geographic isolation, these colors should not result from a Founder Effect, the propensity of migrating people to privilege “luxury” colors and traits among the cats they take with them. So aren’t the TTA’s array of colors the result of outbreeding with TA’s of more recent genetic lines?
    I am thoroughly confused about the ideal to be found in a TTA.

    Regards and best wishes,

    Ron Boling

    • Hi Ron, Thanks for the challenging comment :) Without doing any work on this (and I think a proper response to your comment requires work!) I do know that a lot (or a least some) of the modern cat breeds have little or no connection with their ancestors. For example the modern (flat-faced) Persian is just a man made monster with no connection to the cats from Angora or that region of thousands of years ago. Selective cat breeding and outcrossing did that. I think the same story could be told for a lot of the cat breeds. I don’t know. When the cat fancy fiddles around for decades playing God they end up with something different. I think the TA, Persian and Angora got merged in the early 20th century, in the UK, when cat breeding got going. In America, the American TA has been “refined” (actually not refined at all) and that includes what you say:

      “So aren’t the TTA’s array of colors the result of outbreeding with TA’s of more recent genetic lines?”

      My answer would be Yes.

      “Refinement” for a cat breeder is a very shallow concept. It is about what the breeder thinks looks good and often includes more colors and thinner or fatter bodies (extremes). If refinement was about preserving the integrity of the cat and his health and character that would be far more subtle and intelligent. The Chartreux breeders are meant to have done this. I don’t think we can refer to the conventional history of cat breeds anymore (although I often have). The history for many of them re-started when heavy selective breeding took place over the 20th century.

      I guess before the cat fancy came about domestic cats evolved naturally albeit in the slightly artificial human environment. Perhaps this is why the brain shrunk. Life got too soft. I have not read that by the way. I’ll try and find it. I agree a wild cat is a wild cat and a TTA is a domestic cat with perhaps a smaller brain but at least it hasn’t been selectively breed (as far as I know). At least the TTA has a connection with its ancestors.

      I don’t know if the TTA is nearer the wild cat than a American TA? Does selective breeding over 100 years distance the domestic cat from the wild cat? I think it probably does. The domestic becomes more “artificial” and unnatural it seems to me.

      My response is probably not scientific enough for you. I’ll do a bit of research. I have a part of a page on PoC that refers to the genetics of the cat breeds that might interest you.

  8. Hello,

    It has been a long time since the last reply!

    ”love the “real TA”! If I was in the market for adopting another cat I could think of no more interesting or special cat than a Turkish Turkish Angora.”

    Many thanks Michael for these beautiful words!

    Ron, thank you for your great interest and long comments! I will take my time to answer some of your questions.

    It’s not about the selective breeding, although it played some part. This is outcrossing that make TA look you see today.
    Let me remind you that cat breeding is not regulated. It’s all depends on breeders honesty. And some of them will falsify pedigrees, will breed with one cat and register another; some will outcross… but in pedigree will show up another cat. There is no way to know exactly if a pedigree is correct.
    The facts that show that pedigree TA is man- made cat breed, having little relation to Turkish cats:
    1. Recessive colors like pointed . Even so much respected Barbara Azan admitted that they often occur in their TA breeding. Where these colors not found in Turkish came from? The answer is straightforward: outcrossing.
    2. Little known about the imports that were used in TA breeding, especially from Taspinar/Tai-Phoon catteries, that are known by breeders themselves for unethical practices – breeding so called ‘’imports’’ with Siamese and Persian type of cats. Check out pedigrees almost all TA’s today trace back to Taspinar and Tai-Phoon – later Azima cattery which also used these cats a lot.
    3. The TA’s from 1970’s already have a changed type (straight nose, thin boning, huge ears). Selective breeding does not work overnight, but outcrossing usually leads to very fast results. Today if a TA breeder gets a Turkish import that (looks similar to Turkish Van, not TA), then breeds it to their older outcrossed stock, they after 1st or 2nd generation will get a desired type easily, but will have only 50 % of real Angora and genes after each breeding after generations will be ‘’diluted’’, the extreme look will be achieved…
    4. 2008 Study about the cat breeds by Lipinski and Lyons clearly showed that TA was unrelated to Turkish random-bred cats (from which they supposedly came from!). TA was genetically similar to Egyptian Mau and Tunisian cats (mix of Western cats with a bit Anatolian influence). E. Mau has for most of part European ancestry- in other words like TA it was outcrossed for some reason…
    5. Ankara Zoo cat in the same study was identified as Turkish Van and later the same geneticist renamed it to ”Cyprus”/Aphrodite… This is of course weird… Once again if TA came from only selective breeding, it should be similar to Ankara Zoo cat, no?

    ‘’Unless I learn otherwise, I will assume the integrity of the CFA’s (and TICA’s) pedigree records’’.

    Well, I wouldn’t trust them much, as pedigrees are made by those who breed the cats…

    ‘’How many pedigrees date back to the 1950s, to the original Turkish cats?’’
    In pedigrees you usually will see some Turkish names, but no idea where these cats come from. There were some official imports, like, Walter and Lisa Grants got a pair (or three cats? Writers do not agree) from Ankara zoo, Leinbach , Porter, Peirce imported a few cats, Torio got one and quickly bred it to Taspinar/Tai-Phoon stock. We also have Gisela Stoschek from Tai Phoon who using Taspinar’s name imported(?) some cats from unverifiable sources – we only see many Turkish names in pedigrees and who knows about the origin and if these cats are Turkish at all. Another thing, not all these known imports were used in TA breeding…
    By the way Taspinar, Peirce and Grants got their cats from Turkish Zoos with pedigrees. This is of course not possible, as Turkish Zoos including Ankara Zoo had no records about their cats and never gave any pedigrees, cats even had no names (think about this, today still cats there have no names)! 1960’s when some cats were imported to USA, one CFA breeder who lived in Ankara Zoo described in how bad conditions cats were kept, both longhair and shorthair white cats were in same cages breeding ‘’indiscriminately’’. So one may wonder why those breeders made up pedigrees while others from same Zoos got their cats without any pedigree…

    ‘’Your message claims, astonishingly, that the Angoras of Turkey date back at least 10,000 years’’
    No, Not Angoras, Angora’s and other cat’s ancestors. Felis S. Lybica – Near Eastern Cat (Not African) was tamed about 10 000 years ago. Cats were not domesticated in Egypt, domestication of cats happened in Anatolia and Fertile Crescent and does not include Egypt (Driscoll ‘’The Near Easter Origin of Cat Domestication’’).

    ‘’You have already inferred that the breeders I know provide pedigrees that go back many generations, not merely two’’.
    Did I say this? Of course those pedigrees have many generations, otherwise it would be so easy to read them if we had just two! (I wish!)

    ‘’You dismiss American breeding as “an expensive hobby” that Turkish people cannot indulge in, yet you acknowledge that nobody there would buy these cats; my greedy American mind suspects that economics explains your native lack of breeders. I think the real point behind your comment is that American breeders are not scientists. Is this correct?’’
    How is a breeder, any breeder – a scientist? We normally call people as scientists which have a degree and work in some scientific field (genetics for example), I have no idea how someone who breeds cats becomes a scientist so I don’t understand your question.

    I don’t say that American breeders are incompetent, they know about the breeding. But it’s important WHAT they breed and I explained that they have a cat that is too much outcrossed to be the real Turkish Angora.
    Not only economics explain the lack of Real Turkish Angora breeders, but also breeding and showing cats came to Turkey only recently and it lacks interest from the general population. Another reason is that we still have cats everywhere in the streets, this of course makes Angoras less valuable, since they are not so rare and still people can get them for free. Persians, British SH are sold in good prices, so Turks breed them, but you can’t earn much money from Angora which after all is a street cat, so people do not want to breed what doesn’t sell well.

    ”I am deeply saddened by your observation that foreign breeding has caused Turkish cats to be “devalued.”

    You should look deeper into this. Since standards are made for a cat which is far from real Angora, since the world see only TA bred by breeders as the Real Angora, the Angoras in Turkey, well are treated as simple stray cats. I have heard many times from so called TA breeders expressed that the Turkish imports need ‘’refinement’’ or they are not ‘’good enough’’, ‘’wild’’, ‘’horrible example of the breed’’ They don’t accept a cat the way it is in its natural form, this is of course sad for us. I don’t see anything wrong with natural look of the Real Angora – aren’t they beautiful the way they are? Then we hear a cliché ‘’ natural breed’’ – what is natural about it when you breed to cats that were outcrossed and probably don’t have even 50 % of real Angora’s genes? What is natural about that when you want to change a cat to something that not even 1 % of Angoras in Turkey look like? TA is a breeder’s creation; I don’t see why Turkish people should accept this cat as Angora. Who is this small community of breeders to decide what our national cat should look like? Who are they to claim authority and call themselves as experts of OUR cats?

    ‘’Foreigners believe that the Turkish government makes it difficult to acquire your cats. Is this true’’
    No, it is false and only rumors. It is not forbidden by any law to take white or other colored cats from Turkey. Some stupid people in government wanted to ban taking ‘’Van Kedisi’’ (white cat with odd-eyes’’) abroad without a permission, but as far as I know no law like this was passed. I think it’s probably expensive for a breeder to import cats from Turkey, but those who come here to get cats, they get them.

    ‘’ACA’s facebook page is not a useful forum for people who cannot read Turkish, though (like its website) it provides gorgeous photos that are helping me discover the native TA’s exquisite beauty’’.
    Our FB page is not very active at the moment.
    Everybody is welcome to our FB group. Many people here speak English and we try to answer all questions asked by our members.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/ankarakedisi/

    ”Why are there not Turkish people selling spayed or neutered TAs as pets to cat lovers abroad?”
    Ron, Turkish people did not yet realize how special their Angora cats are. Even today many Turks think that white cats are the purest ones and colored ones – mixed hybrids, impure. Turks also learn about their breeds from foreigner sources. Our work is not only educate people from other countries, but also our own people.

    Angora cats as pets? There are so many beautiful, lovely cats in USA and other countries, if you want a pet, adopt a cat from your country. Cats are wonderful animals, we should love them as individuals not their label, we attach to them – so called ”breed”.

    ”Is TTA (you mean Real angora I suppose) closer to its wildcat ancestor?”
    Maybe. In the study of wildcats by Driscoll, the wildcats from Near East were indistinguishable from domestics.

    ”What sort of purity does it possess, and what makes this purity valuable?”
    We don’t like the word ‘’pure’’, it sound a bit racist like one cat is better than another. What makes Anatolian cats unique? Well, it’s DNA. It’s probably the oldest cat breed and Angora is a mother of longhair cats (as we know longhair gene originated from one isolated case and then spread to the world). Angora cats are like ancient ruins and buildings you see in Anatolia- we don’t say these are just ”stones”, they are history, so why would we call our ancient cat breed ”simple street cats”? The ancient origins and being a part of this amazing Anatolian land, I think makes them very valuable and special cats.

    If you have any questions, you may email us info@turkishangoracat.org or become a member of our FB group.

    Kind Regards

    The Angora Cat Association, TURKEY

  9. Pingback: The Real Turkish Angora Part 2 | Pictures of Cats

  10. Ineresting discussion.
    I started breeding and showing Siamese cats in California in 1949. I subsequently had a Burmese and and Abyssinian. All amazing cats with breed similarities and very different personalities depending on breed.
    I now live in Turkey, but I got my first Turkish Van as a rescue in the UK. I brought her ‘home’ to Turkey and she passed away this winter at the age of about 16-17. Since coming here I have adopted about a dozen street cats. They range from Tabby…ginger and gray, to short haired ‘vans’ with a white background and a variety of ginger, gray and black spots to pure white short-haired Turkish vans who had the characteristic grey spot on the top of the head as kittens and which has now disappeared.
    What constantly amazes me is how different the personalities and characteristic of energy and interst the different one are, and how consistant these are depending on the colour. Even when they come from the same litter, i.e. the two whites came with a tabby that is the image of an Egyptian Mau.
    My Somali friends tell me that Turkish cats look just like Somali street cats, and their mother has/had a classic van with ginger ears and tail.
    Just living with these monkeys posing as cats had made me question the breeding practices and pedigrees on Europe and the US. It is a long established construct there and it is the only way to acquire cats with distinct characteristics of personality and appearance. No problem. However, I do not have to buy a cat in Turkey to have a cat as beautiful and intelligent (the most intelligent I have ever had)and with fairly reliable personality traits depending on appearance.
    Watching a tabby walk along the water’s edge at night while dining directly above it, watching it watch the water, pounce into the water, getting completely drenched in the process, and come out with a fish nearly as long as it is, carry it off and have dinner on the grass, is the best entertainment one can get. Especially at a fish restaurant! lol
    I have two that look just like Maus. Sometimes I can’t tell them apart just looking at the faces.They are 5 years apart in age and the little one has followed the big one around from the beginning. He is his hero and role model. Both are as skittish as they come and also as affectionate. The older one used to retrieve as long as I would throw the toy mouse, but when kittens came into the house he ‘grew up’. He still lets the younger cats eat first.
    Who needs a pedigree if you love cats and cat-watching.
    I will try to post some photos for those who have never been to Turkey. I live on the SE coast and I can walk to the sea and be in 9000ft mountains in 40 minutes by car. Santa Cruz meets the Sierras. Heaven. And all these wonderful kitties…..

  11. Angora Cats in the News of the World’s “Gossip of the Week,” 7th January 1900

    An amusing story is told in “To-Day” of Sir H Chermside, who has left for South Africa. For some years he was a consul in Asia Minor, and was very popular there. In a weak moment he sent a couple of lovely Angora cats as a present to a lady in Constantinople. The lady was so pleased with the cats that she asked him to send some more. Sir Herbert gave his kavasse (courier) some money and told him to by two or three. Then came a demand for more cats from Chermside’s friends and he gave the kavasse further funds with which to buy cats. This went on for a coupe of months, and the kavasse got fatter and fatter. One morning, when Sir Herbert came out of the consulate he was surrounded by a crowd of infuriated veiled females, who besought Mahomet to curse him because he had stolen nearly all their cats. It appeared that the kavasse had pocketed Sir H Chermside’s money, gone round with a sack and, in the name of Allah the All merciful, had annexed nearly every cat in the place. Then Sir Herbert handed over the kavasse to the “tender mercies” of the women.

  12. To put a bit more meat into the debate ” The Real Turkish Angora” perhaps we should also clarify what is not the real Turkish Angora. Although possessing pedigrees as much vaunted proof of their pure-bred ancestry from the Ankara Zoo or Turkey, the CFA and TICA registered TAs are proven by genetics to be derived from western random-bred cats, not Turkish. This cannot be achieved by selective breeding from Turkish stock but only by out-crossing to unrelated western breeds. The attached phylogenetic tree from UC Davis shows this very clearly. All of the studies on Turkish Cat genetics emanating from UC Davis fail to distinguish between Angoras of Turkish descent and impostor Angoras rendering their conclusions, observations, and comments perfectly useless. Only the verified raw data gives a clear picture. For example when a sample from the Ankara Zoo backed up by verified samples from Marmaris, and Istanbul show no significant relationship being a few percentage points to CFA and TICA TAs then the pronouncement that “The Turkish Angora breed contains the most representative cats of Turkey” ( Ref. Leslie Lyons, 2012 Study) , must be regarded as irresponsible and unethical. I have commented along these lines in various forums at different times, but I feel that the above thread can be quite confusing in that various explanations are offered without referring to the conclusive scientific evidence.

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