Turkish Van / Turkish Vankedisi - GCCF razza di gatti foto

The origin of the breed

This breed has appeared naturally in the mountain ranges of Turkey, lake Van area in particular, Erzurum highlands to be exact. This breed’s defining feature is it’s ability to swim, together with an exceptionally thick coat it is a result of growing in a secluded locale and harsh conditions. The breed was especially popular locally in 1920-s, due to, in part, Kemal Ataturk’s preference. First evidence of Vans in Turkey dates back to XVIII, still it was not before 1955 when europeans were first exposed to them. Sonia Halliday and Laurah Lushington were the first to receive a gift of two Van kittens while travelling through Turkey shooting for their article. The male was named Van Atilla, and the female was donned Van Guzelli Iskenderun. Felines have amazed Ms Lushington with their appearance, intellect and ability to swim, and were promptly taken to London, where an attempt to establish the breed officially has been been made. Still, it was not until the end of 1960’s when the Experimental status has been lifted.

The official acknowledgement by GCCF has followed in 1969, at the same time FIFe and a number of other systems have recognised the breed, anb soon after an official standard was issued. In the meanwhile, the breed was also receiving attention in the USA, still it took some 15 years for it to be acknowledged by local organisations. These days, most felinological organisations recognise Vans as a breed.


A medium sized, muscular and fit feline. Vans are quite massive for their weight, yet still maintain an exceptional mobility and flexibility. This breed’s defining feature is a set of membranes between dactyls which, together with a thin and soft watertight coat, allow for greater swimming ability. Speaking of coat - it’s colour should only range from pure white to white, no yellow hues are allowed, yet the red spots on the head, body and tail are permitted, and these features said to have a legendary origin: aboard the Noah’s Arc the Devil himself has manifested a mouse, hell-bent on gnawing through the keel and sinking the vessel. The possessed vermin was too quick and sly for the boarding animals and what little crew was on the ship, but not for the Turkish Vans’ ancestor who has defeated the beast, and the divine patting received for the job well done is said to cause the peculiar coloration, oftenly referred as “Blessed patches”.

Head: Medium to large in size, shaped like an equilateral triangle with round angles, excessively sharp lines and pointy bits are unacceptable. The jaws are rather wide, especially males’. Straight nose (which TICA allows to be slightly convex) makes a smooth forehead-muzzle transition. The profile is well defined with sharp cheeks and full whisker pads, the strong chin is slightly rounded.

Colour spots should not be present below the eye line.

Eyes: Large, chestnut or almond shaped and set at a slight slant. Eye colour may range from green and blue to amber (preferably), odd colours are allowed. A pink outline around the eyes should be present.

Ears: Large, wide open and broad at base, tapering to a rounded tip. Set high and somewhat far apart, should always be colourated.

Neck: Short to medium length, thick and muscular.

Body: Elongated, able and fit, with a broad round chest and thick, developed bone structure.

Legs: Medium length, with hindlegs being longer than the forelegs. While muscles are well developed, the bones are somewhat thinner than expected and are therefore less noticeable.

Paws: Round and neat, with think hair tufts between dactyls and interdigital webbing in the front legs.

Tail: Medium length, high set and constantly articulate when moving. Rather broad on it’s own, the tail is also heavily coated with 2-3 inches long hair. Tail colour should be even throughout its length, not excessively pointy tip should not be visible through the hair.

Coat: Semilong to long in length, soft and silky to the touch. Despite a complete lack of undercoat, Vans adapt to winter by growing a thick “mane” and “pants” for the season. It would be wise to suggest these cats have a way to adapt to hotter conditions too, and so they do: during the pre-summer molt Vans may lose vast quantities of their hair, to the point where they can be mistaken for a cat of shorthair variety.

Colours: Vans are defined as bicolour. The coat is white with colour spots at ears’ base, separated by a white white “trapezoid” between the eyes, another such shape on the rump grows into a fully coloured tail. Spot colouration ranges from cream to red, intricate patterns are permitted.

Flaws: More than 3 coloured spots or tail colouration invading the spine; spots in places other than the head and tail.

Disqualification on shows: Missing tail and/or ear base colouration. Smaller, chaotically spread colour spots should not cause an otherwise fine cat to be disqualified.

Universal disqualification: Amputated claws, cryptorchidism, deafness.

Character traits and features

Vans are exceptionally lively, mobile and strong felines, able to swim and even plunge to catch fish. While they can immerse themselves watching tap water running for hours on end, being a lap cat is not their best suit, and they may feel uncomfortable when approached by anyone but their “master human”, whom they may sometimes envy to anyone. Vans may feel depressed in a small flat unless given the possibility to go for a walk every now and then. While never aggressive and eagerly social with other cats, be ready for their hostile relations smaller pets and rodents. Very playful, these cats have a habit of picking things up and carrying them with their teeth for extended periods of time and distances.

These cats have a rather quiet voice, which is compensated generously by their expressive visage. Turkish Vans are late to mature, reaching their final type by the age of 3 – 5 years.

Maintenance and care

Only requiring weekly combing, Vans are easy to look after, it will not be unreasonable, however, to repeat this procedure on a daily basis during the molt season. Natural swimmers, vans are not afraid of water and may be washed so much more frequently than your conventional cat. TICA defines vans’ coat texture as kashmere, and dirt particles have a hard time sticking to it. As such, Vans don’t appear to need bathtime, instead they simply enjoy water every once in a while.

Nutrition choices

Balanced nutrition plan is required

Selection and breeding

Allowed crossings: Only with on WCF expert board approval.

Breeds relative to or derived from Turkish Van:

Alternative and obsolete breed names:

Allevamenti della razza