A Guide To The Turkish Van Cat

an orange and white turkish van cat climbing over a fence

The naturally occurring Turkish Van cat is an ancient breed originating in modern-day Turkey, where they are intensely adored. Distinguished by their strong, sizeable bodies and their love of swimming, the Turkish Van also stands out thanks to their coloration: white all over with splashes of color on the head and tail only.

If you seek a highly intelligent, easy-to-train pet, this semi-longhaired Turkish breed of cat could be your perfect animal companion. They are also very athletic, sometimes to the point of clumsiness—so, in addition to mental stimulation, they require a lot of physical stimulation as well.

Thinking of sharing your home with this unique and highly sought-after breed? Here’s all you need to know about the Turkish Van cat.

An Overview of the Turkish Van Cat

Height10 – 14 inches
Weight7 – 20 pounds
Lifespan15 – 17 years
OriginTurkey
TemperamentEnergetic, playful, active, affectionate
Activity LevelHigh
CompatibilityGets along with pets and children, but takes some time to socialize
CoatSemi-longhaired
SheddingModerate
ColorsWhite with head and tail markings
Allergy-friendly?No
VocalnessMedium
Price$800 – $1500
a semi long haired turkish van kitten with orange markings on the head and orange eyes crouching on a kitchen top surface

History

The rarity of the Turkish Van cat is prevalent even in central and southwest Asia, where it originates. An ancient and highly coveted breed, the Turkish Van gets its name from a common name used in that region, “Van.” In fact, they were originally called van cats.

The first Turkish Van recorded outside its original region was in 1950s England. Although first referred to as the Turkish cat, the name “Turkish Van” was adopted in order to avoid confusion between the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora (who are genetically related).

The International Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers’ Association – both recognize the Turkish Van cat breed.

Characteristics / Temperament

A highly energetic, curious, and active cat, the Turkish Van loves to play and is happiest when in the midst of fun, interactive activities like running, jumping, playing fetch, and swimming. 

As one of the most intelligent cat species to exist, Turkish Vans will also learn their way quickly around your house — teaching themselves to turn doorknobs and water faucets with ease — so you need to be careful in that regard. Don’t be surprised, either, if your Turkish Van has a mischievous streak.

In fact, it’s wise to rid your living space of valuables and breakables if you have a Turkish Van, especially one that is unfulfilled in terms of physical stimulation. And, although they are beautiful, Turkish Vans aren’t exactly graceful and are known to be somewhat clumsy in how they do their jumps and landings.

Once again, remember that while the Turkish Van cat likes to be petted, they don’t necessarily want to be cuddled or held. However, they are still quite affectionate in their own way, preferring to be near their humans at all times.

Personality

As a highly intelligent breed, the Turkish Van requires ample amounts of intellectual stimulation and entertainment. 

It’s generally best not to leave your Turkish Van alone for too long. But since they tend to get along very well with other pets (this includes dogs as well as cats), initiating them into a household full of existing pets may be a viable option for busy pet parents.

As for compatibility with kids, the Turkish Van may take some time. It’s not that they’re not child-friendly; however, it’s important to ensure that your kids behave appropriately around your Turkish Van: don’t allow them to mishandle the cat. 

Rather, engage your kids in active interactions with your Turkish Van cat, introducing interactive toys and activities.

Remember that, although the Turkish Van cat is a relatively sociable animal, they do have a bit of an aversion to excessive handling. Despite this, you might sometimes be surprised to find your Turkish Van jumping up into your lap to relax as you watch TV, or read, or lounge. And finally, always expect your Turkish Van to want to be near you — although not necessarily on you.

a pure white short hair turkish van cat with orange eyes sitting next to a flower display

Appearance

The Turkish Van Cat is distinguished physically by her “van” coloring, which is the existence of colored patches on a sleek, cashmere-like white coat. The coat of this semi-longhaired breed changes according to the seasons, tending to grow longer during the colder months.

The Turkish Van’s head is wide and shaped somewhat like a wedge. Her eyes, meanwhile, have a peach-pit-like shape and typically contain gold or blue irises, although dichromatic or odd eye coloring is also commonly seen in this breed (meaning each eye is a different color). 

You will find that the body of your Turkish Van cat is strong, long, and muscular and that its tail is brush-like. 

As a fairly large breed of cat, Turkish Van females typically weigh 7 to 12 pounds while males are between 10 and 20 pounds. Your Turkish Van kitten will reach maturity between the ages of 3 and 5 years, and live for 13 years or more.

Grooming

Because of his regal carriage, it might seem like the Turkish Van cat is very high-maintenance, but the single-layer coat of this cat means that keeping them well-groomed is very easy.

Use a fine-toothed comb to brush through his fur on a weekly basis to prevent tangles. In winter, the number of comb-outs should increase, as their fur tends to grow during the colder months. 

When the weather begins to turn warm, your Turkish Van will begin to shed his winter coat to grow a shorter coat for summer. During this time it’s recommended to brush the cat more to prevent mats and tangles.

Bathe your Turkish Van once every couple of months.

As an athletic breed, the Turkish Van should be expected to carry out his shenanigans all throughout the house. To prevent significant damage to your furniture or furnishings, keep your Turkish Van’s claws trimmed short. 

grey and white turkish van sitting on a lawn on a sunny day

Care

As we have already established, the Turkish Van cat requires high levels of entertainment. They love to jump; in fact, they really don’t like spending time on the ground. 

If you’re bringing a Turkish van into your house, make sure to provide him with a tall cat condo. Any sort of high perch you can provide for your Turkish Van is suitable, and the more, the better. Otherwise, don’t blame him when he carves out his own space on your desk or cabinet, knocking things out of the way to get there.

As mentioned before, you should also prioritize providing your Turkish Van with interactive toys, such as puzzles, toy mice, and feather wands. 

And, as these kitties love to swim, you should definitely aim to provide them with the opportunity to splash about in the bathtub or sink. Their fur is naturally water-resistant and able to dry out quickly, so don’t worry about them making too big of a mess.

Diet

The fact of the Turkish Van being low-maintenance extends to their diet. They don’t require any special food, but like all pets, you should aim to provide them with high-quality nutrition wherever possible. 

Even if you’re unable to provide fresh food, choose your packaged commercial cat food brand carefully, prioritizing the use of real fish or meat in its make-up. Bonus points if the food contains Omega fatty acids, which promote a healthy, shiny coat.

One thing to look out for, though, is overfeeding. The Turkish Van is already quite large and sometimes prone to overeating if allowed to. Keep health issues at bay by ensuring that your Turkish Van remains lean. If the weight of your Turkish Van cat is between 7 and 20 pounds, she can be assumed to have a healthy weight.

an orange and white turkish van cat climbing over a fence

Health

The Turkish Van cat takes 3 to 5 years to reach full maturity, then it lives another 8-10 years, with the total average lifespan being about 13 years. The breed, which is naturally occurring, is generally quite healthy and not prone to genetic diseases.

Price

Turkish Van Cats are not cheap. How much are Turkish Van cats? The price to pay for this rare feline is between $800 and $1500, depending on your location and the reputation of the breeder. 

Remember, you’re not only paying for the beauty of the breed but her intelligence and good genes as well. The price of your Turkish Van may depend on the van pattern, body proportion, breeding location, and coat color.

If you want a well-bred Turkish Van kitten, one of the best places to meet local breeders is cat shows. These are not only fun events but offer great networking opportunities for cat lovers of all kinds. 

Final Words

The energetic, intelligent and sometimes mischievous Turkish Van Cat is understandably highly-sought. If you’re ready to provide ample opportunities for mental and physical stimulation as well as lots of loving attention, you’re ready to welcome a Turkish Van into your home.

We wish you the best of luck with your new fur baby!