The distinguished and important cat breed, the Turkish Angora, has been hijacked not once but twice. While the real Turkish Angora resides in Turkey the American cat fancy has created a new cat and given it the name “Turkish Angora”. It is not even a good replica of the original. It neither looks like the original nor has the same DNA as the original2. Yet, it has the same name. I have called this a “theft”. It is a theft of the name and what the name represents. It is a bit like stealing a trademark in the business sense.
The “new model” seems to correspond with what the American cat fancy calls “refined” which in this case appears to mean thinner. “Refined” means anything other than the original appearance because the original is too “ordinary”.
The other hijacking of the name “Turkish Angora” is by the creators of a new breed of cat, the “Cyprus Aphrodite Giant”. This cat has been accepted and registered by the World Cat Federation (WCF), a European cat association. It has the same “genetic heritage” as the Turkish Angora and is identical to the “the true Turkish Van”1 but is called something else. This is a shoddy way to proceed.
In America, scientific research, using DNA testing into the genetic history of the cat breeds and their origins has fudged the differences between the “created” cat that Sarah Hartwell renames the “American Angora” and the real Turkish Angora. The reason? To rewrite the history of the breed and legitimise the new creation making it THE Turkish Angora, when it most definitely is not.
It seems that the scientists found genuine Turkish Angoras difficult to group and classify because they failed to fit in with their preconceived ideas of what the Turkish Angora should be, namely, the American version of the real thing.
A DNA sample from an Ankara Zoo cat named Minos, numbered 9575 in the 2012 Turkish Cat Genetics Study by L Lyons, et al, was found to be 74% pure Turkish Angora (Ankara kedisi) but obfuscated as a Cyprus Group cat. Unintelligibly, Lyons stated that this cat was difficult to group “because it has significant markers from several breeds”, but fails to explain why other cats some with less than 2% of the same Ankara kedisi marker were placed squarely in the Turkish Angora group. The answer is very simple. The Ankara kedisi marker do not correspond to her assumption that the American “Angora” fabrication is the legitimate Angora from the Zoo and cats with this marker were conveniently shunted into the Cyprus group. Other samples from the Ankara Zoo were likewise excluded as well as many cats from Turkey and Cyprus with very a high Ankara kedisi identification. You can read about them and an overall critique of this seriously flawed study on Sarah Hartwell’s site.
In the Lyons study under the heading “Materials and Methods”, the scientists write:
“…We obtained DNA samples of most breeds at cat shows and by request from cat owners in the United States. Korat, Turkish Angora, Turkish Van, and Siberian samples were acquired from the United States and Europe because these breeds have the same standards between continents…”
Am I missing something? Why didn’t they obtain DNA samples from Ankara Zoo in Turkey? I would like to hear from Harvey Harrison and the Angora Cat Association in Turkey on that subject, please. The reason may be a simple one; the scientists are stupid.
This is a difficult subject made all the more difficult when science appears to work with the cat fancy (deliberately or inadvertently) rather than in a totally objective way. I have to conclude, and I think it fair to say, that the cat fancy in America and probably elsewhere have not been faithful to the authenticity of the cat breeds. The cat fancy likes to use cat breed history to promote the cat breeds, especially the so called “natural breeds” but conveniently rewrites it. This creates what I have called the cat breed mashup.
People who care about cats would like to see clarity, accuracy and fair play in respect of the cat breeds. We need to be able to understand them better. When the breeds are mashed up in this fashion it dulls our enthusiasm for the breeds. This is bad management by the associations. In the long term it will work against them. It is also very unfair to the good people of the Angora Cat Association, Turkey (ACA), who look after the real and precious Turkish Angora.
Note: This is a tricky subject. I like accuracy and fair play. If I have made a mistake please tell me and I will amend it promptly.
- Reference: Sarah Hartwell’s Messybeast.com.
- There are very minor similarities.