The Turkish Van is nicknamed the “swimming cat” for his love of water. It’s not unusual to find him splashing in ponds, pools or any other water he can find. This is a smart, active, loving cat with a silky, medium-length coat that is easy to groom. Most Vans are white with color on the head and tail.
Did You Know the Turkish Van Loves to Swim?
Many Turkish Vans have a small mark between their shoulder blades called “the thumbprint of God.” It’s thought to be good luck.
My plush coat feels like cashmere, but I’m not a goat. I like to swim but I’m not a seal. What am I?
Why, a Turkish Van, of course. In his homeland, the beautiful, semilonghaired Turkish Van is considered a regional treasure, for good reason. He stands out for his distinctive “van” coloration–white with color on the tail and head–blue, gold or odd eyes, his proclivity for water, and his large, heavily built body. The Van is sometimes confused with his cousin the Turkish Angora, but the two are very different in size, coat and other characteristics. The Van is a large cat, with females weighing seven to 12 pounds, males 10 to 20 pounds. The breed doesn’t reach full maturity until three to five years of age, but it lives for 13 or more years.
Put away breakables if you have a Turkish Van in the house. This is an active, energetic cat who likes to jump to the highest point in the room. When he’s not jumping, he’s running, playing in water, retrieving his toys or attacking them with gusto, perhaps even washing them in the toilet or bathroom sink, where he has turned on the water faucet. On the rare occasions that he is sitting still, the Turkish Van is inclined to be loving and affectionate, frequently following his favorite person around the house. He enjoys being petted but isn’t necessarily fond of being held or cuddled. Small children need to understand this if they are going to be good friends with the Van. He gets along with other pets, including dogs, after making sure they know he is the one in charge. This is a mischievous and clever cat who is entertaining to live with, despite being more than a handful.
The Turkish Van’s coat does not shed much and is easy to groom with weekly combing. The only other grooming required is regular nail trimming and ear cleaning. You may want to bathe him every couple of months, especially if he is white or light-colored.
The Turkish Van is well suited to any home where he is loved, appreciated and given the care and attention he needs. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals.
Other Quick Facts About the Turkish Van
Some Van cats possess a colored marking on their shoulder called the “Thumbprint of Allah.” It is considered a sign that the cat has been blessed.
The Turkish Van has a semi-longhaired white coat with colored markings on the head and tail, known as a van pattern. Cats with a van pattern carry a piebald gene, which is the same gene that causes the white color on cats with tuxedo (black with a white belly) or bicolor (a color plus white) patterns. The gene is expressed to a greater degree in Van cats, which accounts for the large amount of white on the body. The Van pattern is seen in other pedigreed cats and in random-bred cats
The Van’s head is wide and moderately wedge shaped. The eyes are shaped something like peach pits and can be blue, gold, or odd, meaning that one eye is blue and the other gold. The body is long, sturdy and muscular with fur that feels like cashmere and a full, brushlike tail.
Vans are known for enjoying a nice swim. Don’t be surprised if yours wants to join you in the bathtub or swimming pool or goes fishing in your koi pond. Historically, they were known to swim in Turkey’s Lake Van.