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Turkish Van & Turkish Vankedisi


Section 2 – SEMI LONGHAIR – Group 2

Commonly known as the “swimming cat”, the Turkish Van is a naturally occurring semi-longhaired breed from the rugged region of the Middle East centred on Lake Van where the climate varies to extremes. The Turkish Van is known for its distinctive pattern – a white cat with a strikingly coloured head and tail. The ‘top-and-tail’ markings, even when seen on other breeds of cat, are frequently referred to as “van patterning”.

The pure white Turkish Vankedisi has exactly the same characteristics and temperament as its van- patterned cousins.


The Turkish Van and Vankedisi are ancient breeds from the Middle East, kept as domestic pets for hundreds of years. They originated in the Lake Van region of Turkey. Lake Van is the biggest lake in Turkey and has several islands, the largest of which – called Ahtamar – has the remains of the early Christian Church of the Holy Cross built in 910 AD. The cats first appeared on these shores in the 1950s when a pair of Turkish Vans were brought back to Britain by a holidaying couple.

Appearance and Colours

A large and muscular cat, the strength and power is evident in the substantial body and legs. Turkish Vans often do not gain full maturity until they are three years or more. The head forms a substantial broad wedge with a medium to long straight nose, with a barely perceptible dip in the profile. The ears are moderately large and well feathered, whilst the eyes are large and oval, always alert and expressive, and having pink rims.

The Turkish Van comes in a number of colours from the traditional white with auburn through to the newer varieties (and still relatively rare) which include white with cream, black, blue, tortoiseshell, blue tortie, brown tabby, blue tabby, tortie tabby or blue tortie tabby. In all colours it is possible to breed three different eye colours, with these being amber, blue or odd-eyed (i.e. one of each colour).

Ideally, the body should be chalk white with no trace of yellow. The Turkish Van should have coloured markings on the head, but not below the level of the eyeliners or beyond the base of the rear of the ears, with the colour on the head separated by a vertical white blaze. The tail should also be coloured and is described as a full brush. Small ‘thumb prints’ of colour irregularly placed on the cat are acceptable for show standard, as is colour extending from the root of the tail onto the back.

The fur should be long soft and silky to the roots. The coat is noticeably shorter in the summer; in the winter it is much thicker. The neck and chest ruff become even more pronounced with maturity.

The Turkish Vankedisi is, of course, a pure white cat. The fur should be long, soft and silky to the roots, with no woolly undercoat. It should be noted that the winter coat of the Vankedisi is longer and heavier than the summer coat. The neck and chest ruff should become more pronounced with age.

The Turkish Vankedisi has a full brush (tail), with a length to balance with the body.

Just like its Turkish Van cousin, the Vankedisi can have amber eyes, blue eyes or odd eyes (one amber and one blue).


The Turkish cats are distinctive. They are not only eye-catching in looks but have great character and personality. Apart from being loyal, loving and intelligent, they can also be very affectionate. However, their temperament depends very much on their upbringing and the temperament of the mother and the cats with which they are reared.

Being very active cats, it is rare to see one walking or even on the floor! Most have a love of heights and can often be found on the highest point in a room, even if that means the top of a door! They are very agile and love joining in games with balls or scraps of paper, which they will retrieve endlessly. With such quick movements, these cats can also wreak havoc amongst ornaments or in furnishings – and being intelligent they can use this to their own advantage.

Turkish Vans seem to happily ignore rain as they have a pretty water-resistant coat but they do dislike strong winds. Most of them also have more than a normal love of water, ranging from dripping taps, especially drinking from them, and dunking their toys in water bowls or a sink. Also, they love being with you so when you take a bath or shower, you could easily be joined by one.

Having a quiet voice, which can sometimes sound rather like a sheep, is a strange characteristic and the Turk can also be sensitive to certain noises and to strong smells. If frightened or caught unawares, they can react by coming forward.

The Turkish Van or Vankedisi is an excellent pet and makes a devoted companion once its loyalty and confidence have been won. It can be very dog-like often following the owner around, and, indeed, they do get on very well with dogs.


The semi-longhaired coat does not tangle easily but it is a good idea to brush them regularly to remove loose, dead hair and help prevent furballs. Their coats repel dirt to a large degree so they do not need a lot of bathing but many of them enjoy water and so also enjoy a bath.

At full maturity males range in weight from 10 to 20 lbs, with females ranging from 7 to 12 lbs.

Turkish Vans live for about 12 to 14 years.


The Turkish Van and Vankedisi is a robust healthy cat, as are most natural breeds of cat.