This is a domestic breed of cat and an alternative name for the Angora Cat. More specifically I would like to describe the breed as the Turkish Angora Cat. The name Ankara Cat was not infrequently used in the middle of the 19th century and occurs occasionally in later writings.
The lady who brought the first Turkish Van cats to the West in 1955, Laura Lushington, wrote:
“The Turkish people do not as a rule make a great fuss about animals, unless they serve some useful purpose. But there are two exceptions, the Ankara Cat and the Van Cat, both of which have been kept as domestic pets for hundreds of years.”
[Note: the Van cat is now called the Turkish Van. “Van” in Van cat describes the inverted ‘V’ marking on the top of the head.]
An interesting aspect of this story is that “Angora” means “Ankara”. This as you might know is the capital city of Turkey, which changed its spelling in 1930. The animals named after it such as the Angora Goat and the Angora Cat retained their original forms.
So, Angora is the historic name of Ankara. Wikipedia tells us that Ankara is sometimes known in the West as Angora. The history of Ankara goes back to the Bronze Age Hatti civilisation “which was succeeded in the second millennium BC by the Hittites”. In short, it has an incredibly long history. It grew in size significantly from around 1000 BC.
In line with this, the Turkish Angora, also has a very long history. It is not completely clear what this history is but an acceptable theory is that the Angora was taken from the cold mountains of eastern Persia by Islamic invaders in the 15th century. Alternatively the Angora is an old established Russian domestic cat taken south to Asia Minor on trading ships eventually arriving at Turkey and Iran.
It is recorded as being a distinct breed in Turkey as early as the 15th century. It was the first long-haired cat to be brought to Western Europe. The earliest specimens arrived in the 16th century. They were gifts from the Turkish sultans to noble families in England and France.
I have liberally referred to Dr Desmond Morris’s excellent work ‘Cat World’ which I hope that Dr Morris accepts. Please buy the book. I have also referred to Wikipedia as mentioned in the text and used my own knowledge.
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