The Turkish Van cat should be all-white with odd-eye colour, usually blue and amber. The Turkish Van cats of the UK and USA with the inverted ‘V’ on the top of the head and usually the rusty coloured tail do not conform to the rigid standards set by Professor Abdullah Kaya at the Yuzuncu Yil University (YYU) Van Cat Research and Application Center in Van, Turkey. The center was founded in 1992 to preserve the Turkish Van and to stop the breed from becoming extinct. In 1990 they were facing extinction with only a handful left.
It is an another interesting example of how Western breeders have been disloyal to the true pedigree of the Turkish Van and Turkish Angora and indeed other cat breeds such as the Persian which no longer has a genetic link to its ancestral origins. Breeders tend to restart the breed as they think fit and rub out the original DNA.
The Times tells us that about 190 kittens are born every year at the institute. Most of them are sent to homes in Turkey because export restrictions place a ban on sending them abroad. I wonder if this is to stop breeders abroad using them and in doing so undermining the purity of the breed?
Prof. Kaya ensures that the pure and true Turkish Van is not cross-bred with other cat breeds or I presume random bred cats.
The Van cat is famous because it is said that they like to swim and are not averse to water. I was unsure about this potential myth but the professor says that it is true. The institute appears to be in a villa named the ‘Van Cat Villa’ where Mozart wafts across three pools. It keeps them calm – the professor said:
They’re very intelligent and they like swimming. Normally cats don’t like getting wet. [The music] keeps them calm. They like classical music and quiet traditional Turkish music – not any loud rhythmical sounds.
I have a page on the Turkish cat breeds. If you click on this link you’ll be taken to the true Turkish Van and below there are some pages on the Turkish Van.