Turkish Van Cats

Turkish Van Cat



Turkish Van cats are an ancient and unique breed originating from Turkey, known for their rugged and large-bodied appearance and distinct color pattern called the “van” pattern. This pattern features bicolor cats with white coats and coloration on the head, tail, and sometimes in patches on the body.

These cats are highly energetic and may not always be the most graceful in their movements. What sets them apart from other breeds is their strong affinity for water, earning them the nickname “The Swimming Cat.” Turkish Vans are rare, making them somewhat challenging to find, but their delightful personalities make them sought after as pets.

If you’re interested in adopting a Turkish Van kitten, you might need to invest some effort in locating a breeder since they are not as common. The cost of the kitten will depend on factors such as its origin, breeding, body proportions, and coloring. Despite their rarity, Turkish Van kittens can surprisingly be quite affordable to adopt.



The Turkish Van cats are highly intelligent and easily trainable. Clicker training is an effective way to engage them in learning tricks, and they enjoy mental stimulation. Providing puzzle toys and treats for problem-solving can keep them entertained.

These cats are energetic and athletic, often using their powerful hind legs to climb to high places in the home. However, their athleticism might not always be accompanied by gracefulness, so it’s best to keep valuables away from tempting perches. Tall cat trees and scratching posts can help satisfy their need for engagement.

Turkish Vans are social and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. Considering getting them a companion or providing enriching toys can help alleviate this. While they are affectionate and social, they prefer showing affection on their own terms and may not enjoy being held like lap cats. Instead, they’ll follow you around and rub against you to show their love.

Regarding families with small children, it’s recommended to wait until the children can understand boundaries with pets. Turkish Vans can play quite actively and might be too much for younger kids. They can get along with other pets, but introductions should be done carefully. As an Alpha cat breed, they may assert their dominance, so it’s essential to monitor their interactions with other pets, especially if the existing pet thinks it rules the household.

Things to Know When Owning a Turkish Van:

Food & Diet Requirements: Due to their high energy levels, Turkish Vans require a high-quality diet to meet their nutritional needs. It’s essential to strike a balance between providing enough food and avoiding overeating, especially since this breed tends to be large in size. As obligate carnivores, they need a diet rich in animal protein, although some can tolerate small amounts of plant-based foods.

Healthy fats are also necessary for their well-being, providing energy and aiding in metabolic regulation and nutrient transportation. While free feeding, where food is available all the time, might be an option, it can lead to overeating and obesity, considering their active nature. Set meal times are recommended for better portion control and monitoring their food intake.

Ensure your Turkish Van has access to fresh drinking water. Experiment with different water bowls to find one that suits their preferences, and consider providing moving water through a fountain, as Turkish Vans are attracted to it.

Exercise: Turkish Vans are highly active and love playing. As an owner, dedicate time each day for playtime with them. Purchase toys that they can fetch or wand toys to jump for, keeping them engaged and entertained.

Offer opportunities for climbing by investing in tall and stable cat trees or climbing towers. These structures serve not only as exercise outlets but also as vantage points for surveying their surroundings, a trait these cats enjoy.

Since Turkish Vans have a unique love for water, consider allowing them supervised time in shallow, still water like ponds or lakes. Avoid areas with moving water like creeks or rivers to prevent accidents. Always keep a close eye on your pet during water activities, as even good swimmers can face unexpected challenges.

Training & Grooming

Training 🧶:

Turkish Vans are highly intelligent and can be easily trained, making them a joy to work with. You can teach them various tricks and commands, similar to how dogs are trained. If you plan on taking your Turkish Van outside, leash training is essential for their safety and enrichment.

Since they are food-motivated, using treats as rewards is an effective way to reinforce positive behavior during training. However, keep training sessions short and sweet, as cats have shorter attention spans compared to dogs. Let your cat dictate the duration of the training, and stop when you notice their interest waning.

During training, remain calm and patient. Don’t be discouraged if progress is slower than expected; Turkish Vans can be strong-willed and stubborn. Consistent short sessions with treats will yield positive results over time.

Grooming ✂️:

Despite their luxurious appearance, Turkish Vans are relatively low-maintenance in terms of grooming. They lack an undercoat, and their single coat has a silky texture, making grooming a breeze. Brushing their coat once a week should be sufficient, and shedding is generally limited to spring when they shed their old coat.

It’s essential to note that Turkish Van cats reach full coat maturity around three to five years of age, and their fur continues to fill in as they grow.

Their fur is naturally water-resistant, so baths are rarely necessary. However, since they love playing with water, offering them a bathtub occasionally for playtime can be enjoyable for them. 

Regular nail trims and teeth brushing are necessary, just like with other cat breeds, to maintain their overall health and well-being.

Health Conditions

Health and Conditions 🏥:

The Turkish Van is considered a naturally occurring breed, which generally means they are less prone to certain genetic and hereditary issues that can affect other breeds. However, like all cats, they are susceptible to certain health conditions, both serious and minor.

Serious Conditions:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is a common cardiac disease in cats where the walls of the heart thicken, affecting its function. While HCM is not specifically associated with Turkish Vans due to genetics, it can still develop in individual cats.

Minor Conditions:

  • Obesity: Turkish Vans are highly active and energetic cats, which means they burn a lot of energy during playtime. However, excessive activity levels can lead to an increased appetite, and if they consume more calories than they burn, they may be at risk of becoming overweight. It’s essential to monitor their diet and avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity-related health issues.
  • Dental Problems: Turkish Vans, like all cats, can be prone to dental issues such as plaque build-up on their teeth. Regular dental care, such as daily brushing, can help reduce the risk of future dental problems. There are also special food or water additives that can aid in maintaining dental health.
  • Spaying or Neutering: Due to the Turkish Van’s larger size, some veterinarians may recommend delaying the spaying or neutering process. This is to allow proper growth and development of their muscles and bones. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable time for the procedure.

Overall, while Turkish Vans are generally considered a healthy breed, responsible pet ownership, regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper dental care are essential to ensuring their well-being and longevity.

Male vs. Female Turkish Vans:

The primary difference between male and female Turkish Vans lies in their size and physical characteristics. Male Turkish Vans are generally larger and more muscular compared to their female counterparts. On average, males can weigh between 10 to 20 pounds, while females typically weigh around 7 to 12 pounds. However, it’s important to note that individual cats’ size and weight can vary, so these ranges are not strict rules.

Personality and character traits, on the other hand, are not determined by the cat’s gender but rather by their individual temperament and experiences. Each cat, regardless of gender, will have its unique personality and behavior patterns. While there may be some general trends associated with male and female cats, it’s crucial to remember that these are not absolute.

In some cases, male Turkish Vans may display territorial behaviors like spraying or same-sex aggression, which can be more common in intact (unneutered) males. However, these behaviors often diminish or even disappear after the cat is neutered. Neutering, which involves the surgical removal of the testes in males, can reduce aggressive tendencies and help with territorial issues.

It’s essential to approach each cat as an individual and not make assumptions based solely on their gender. Some male Turkish Vans may be docile and affectionate, while some females may exhibit more assertive traits. When considering a pet, it’s best to interact with the individual cat and observe their behavior and compatibility with your household to determine the best fit for your family.

Three Little-Known Facts About the Turkish Van Cat:

  1. The Turkish Van Breed Has Been Around for Centuries: The Turkish Van cat is an ancient breed with a long history. Named after Lake Van in Turkey, where they were first discovered, Turkish Vans are believed to have existed in the region for centuries before being recognized by Westerners in the mid-1950s. Their isolation in the mountainous areas of central and southwest Asia is thought to have contributed to their long lifespan.
  2. Turkish Van Cats Are Sometimes Called “The Swimming Cat”: A unique and fascinating trait of Turkish Vans is their love for water. They are often referred to as “The Swimming Cat” due to their affinity for water activities. Their soft coat possesses water-resistant qualities, which may explain why they take to water so well. Turkish Vans are known to enjoy taking dips in pools or bathtubs and are not hesitant to play in water. Some of them may even explore water sources like toilets if the lid is left open.
  3. Many Turkish Van Cats Have a Marking Called the “Thumbprint of Allah”: There are various folktales surrounding Turkish Vans, and one interesting belief is that they were present on Noah’s Ark during the biblical flood. According to the folklore, as the animals were disembarking from the ark, Allah blessed them, and while doing so, accidentally left a unique marking on the Turkish Van cats’ shoulders. This distinctive marking has been referred to as the “Thumbprint of Allah” and is considered a symbol of their divine connection in certain cultural beliefs.

These lesser-known facts add to the allure and mystery of the Turkish Van breed, making them a truly fascinating and cherished companion for those fortunate enough to share their lives with these unique cats.




In conclusion, the Turkish Van is a captivating and delightful cat breed that can bring joy and excitement to any home. Their boundless energy and affinity for water make them unique and entertaining companions. However, it’s essential for prospective owners to understand that Turkish Vans have a strong-willed nature and prefer affection on their terms.

If you already have other pets at home, be prepared for your Turkish Van to assert their dominance as the Alpha. This breed’s assertiveness doesn’t make them any less affectionate or loving, but rather adds to their charismatic personality.

Due to their rarity in the United States, finding a Turkish Van kitten may require patience and being put on an adoption waitlist. But the reward of welcoming such a remarkable and special feline into your family will undoubtedly make the wait worthwhile.

Ultimately, the Turkish Van’s intelligence, playfulness, and social nature make them a fantastic choice for cat lovers seeking a lively and engaging companion. Embracing the uniqueness of the Turkish Van will lead to a fulfilling and rewarding relationship with this beautiful breed.


Turkish Van Cat at a Glance

Weight range:

Male: 10-12 lbs.
Female: 7-10 lbs.

Eye color:

Bright amber or blue


Longevity Range: 13-17 years
Social/Attention Needs: High
Tendency to Shed: Low


Length: Semi-long
Characteristics: Single-coat; soft, cashmere-like; semi-long
Colors: White with dark coloring on head and tail and sometimes on the back of the neck (referred to as the “Van pattern”)
Pattern: Rings on tail; a “thumbprint” on shoulder blades
Less Allergenic: Yes
Overall Grooming Needs: Low

Club recognition:

Cat Association Recognition:
Prevalence: Rare

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Unique "Swimming Cat" Trait

One of the most intriguing features of Turkish Van cats is their natural affinity for water, making them a standout among other feline breeds. Their love for water-related activities, such as playing in water bowls or even swimming in shallow basins, makes them captivating and entertaining companions. This unique trait is sure to attract attention and interest from potential buyers.

Stunning Van Pattern Coat

Turkish Van cats possess a stunning coat pattern that sets them apart. With their predominantly white fur and coloration limited to their tails and sometimes on their heads, each Turkish Van cat is a true individual. The striking appearance of the "Van pattern" coat makes these cats not only visually appealing but also highly sought after among cat enthusiasts.

Social, Affectionate, and Playful Nature:

Turkish Van cats are known for their outgoing and affectionate personalities. They form strong bonds with their human families and enjoy interactive play and social interaction. Their intelligence and playful nature make them delightful companions for families and individuals alike. These qualities make Turkish Van cats a perfect choice for those seeking a loving and engaging feline friend.



The Turkish Van cat is a large, highly energetic animal with no genetic predisposition toward medical issues. She demonstrates her athletic prowess both on land and in the water. While most cats run at the first sight of water, the Turkish Van is a strong and capable swimmer, earning this breed the nickname “The Swimming Cat.” This is one aspect of the Turkish Van cat personality that makes her so unique. It’s her soft coat, in particular, that allows the Turkish Van to enjoy water sports. “The Van’s coat is naturally water resistant because of its silky texture, and presumably because it is only one coat,” notes PetMD. “The Van loves water, and can immerse itself, swimming happily for long periods of time, and come out relatively dry.” She’d love nothing more than to take a dip in your bathtub, so keep an eye out for her.

The Turkish Van has unusual markings, called a “Van pattern,” which consists of a nearly all-white body with coloring on her face and tail (some Vans also have a small, round mark where the shoulder blades meet). Common colors include red and brown. This unique pattern occurs because of the presence of what’s called the “piebald” gene, a trait that appears in animals and humans, resulting in large unpigmented areas of the body, giving her a mostly white body. Her bushy, squirrel-like tail adds to her distinct physical appearance.

In addition to her unique coat markings, the Turkish Van may sport eyes of differing colors. She may have two blue eyes, two amber eyes, or one of each, a trait not uncommon with this breed.


The Turkish Van cat personality is best described as energetic, playful and fun-loving. She requires a lot of attention from her pet parents, so she’s the perfect match for those who have a lot of time and love to share with their fur baby. She’s also a jumper, as The International Cat Association (TICA) explains: “Their powerful hind legs mean they are great jumpers and climbers so expect to find them atop the bookcase or in some other aerie they have located as a great place to ensure they can see everything going on in their world.” This breed can learn to fetch, says, TICA, and you may even see them “catch toys in mid-flight or turn somersaults in their enthusiastic chases” around the house.

Although the Turkish Van can be a great roommate choice for a dog, you’ll want to have a meet-and-greet before adopting this breed into a family with young children, and there should be supervision. Turkish Vans like to be cuddled and held on their own terms, though not for long periods of time, and while they’re loving cats, they aren’t very tolerant of people tugging at their tails or trying to pet them.

Living With

Lively and social, the Turkish Van is highly intelligent and requires regular exercise and playtime to thrive. This breed can also get itself into mischief, with a particular fondness for knocking items off shelves and tables, notes Vetstreet: “It is not known for being a floor cat, preferring to be at the top of everything, watching the happenings below. High energy paired with a love of high places makes the Van a bit careless when it comes to ornaments you might find valuable but which the Van finds to be simple obstructions.” You’ll want to keep plenty of toys (DIY cat toys are always fun) around the house in order to take her attention away from your valuables and onto the mouse.

These furry friends are low maintenance and benefit from a regular hygiene routine that includes claw trimming, teeth brushing, and healthy meals, and combing (once a week should be all that’s needed, as her luxurious coat is not prone to matting). This breed’s love of swimming does not translate, however, into a love of taking baths. In that sense, the Turkish Van is much like other cats in that she’ll make bath time difficult. Fortunately, she does not require regular bathing.


The Turkish Van cat is a rare breed that dates back to ancient times. The name is derived from the use of the term “Van” in its countries of origin (Iraq, Iran, and portions of the Soviet Union and Turkey), explains the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). It’s “a common term in the region that has been given to a number of towns, villages and even a lake—Lake Van,” says the CFA, “so it is no surprise that the uniquely patterned cat native to the region was named the ‘Vancat’ by the residents.” The Van is not to be confused with the Turkish Angora, which is an entirely separate breed.

Making its home in the mountainous region of central and southwest Asia, historical records show that the strong and rugged Turkish Van has been around for nearly five thousand years, with its isolation contributing to its lengthy lifetime, points out TICA. It is a treasured breed in its homeland, especially those Vans who have a smallish, colored marking on their necks, called the “thumbprint of Allah.”

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the first Turkish Van was brought to Europe by two photographers who were gifted a male and female cat, and it was the late ’70s when the breed made its way to the United States. The Van began receiving club recognition in the ’80s and ’90s, charming its way into the hearts of cat lovers across the globe.

Because she is such a rare breed, a Turkish Van cat may be difficult to locate, but not impossible. If you’re lucky enough to share a home with such a beloved and treasured furry friend, you’ll be rewarded with a playful, energetic and loyal companion.

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