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Turkish Van

Catster HQ  |  Jan 1st 1970

Turkish Van

Quick Facts

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Famous for red markings, the Turkish Van can sport any championship color: red and white, cream and white, black and white, blue and white, brown-patched tabby and white, blue-patched tabby and white, tortoiseshell and white, dilute tortoiseshell and white, brown tabby and white, blue tabby and white, cream tabby and white, and finally, red tabby and white.

Its eyes are oval-shaped and large and come primarily in blue or amber colors, but some can be odd-eyed.

The Turkish Van lacks an undercoat and sports a cashmere-like feel to its coat. Look for a spot around a Van’s shoulder called the “mark of Allah.” Its coat is not prone to matting.

Females weigh between 9-13 and males average between 12 and 17 pounds.


  • People oriented
  • Curious and inquisitive
  • Extremely agile and athletic
  • Masters tricks easily
  • Very affectionate
  • Known as the “Swimming Cat”

Ideal Human Companion

  • Families with children
  • Singles with other pets
  • Experienced cat owners

What They Are Like to Live With

Some say this is the cat to select if you can’t decide if you want to adopt a cat or a dog. That’s because Turkish Vans thoroughly enjoy games of fetch and are champion swimmers. They learn obedience commands and tricks easily.

This breed is smart, curious, agile, strong and extremely healthy. However, you need to be diligent in cat-proofing your house. This breed likes to flush toilets or drop objects in toilets, so owners need to keep bathroom doors shut.

Be aware that this breed can use its quickness and guile to swipe food from your plate.

Things You Should Know

While most Turkish Vans crave the attention of their favorite people, they do not like being held.

Most cats sleep 17 to 18 hours a day, but the Turkish Van tends to stay awake and seems to always be on a mission.

Turkish Van History

Tracing its origins to central and southwest Asia centuries ago, the “Van” in its name refers to this geographical area that is now home to Iran, Iraq, southwest Soviet Union and eastern Turkey.

An American couple named Barbara and Jack Reark met a French breeder named Michelle Letermann at a cat show. They traded one of their red-pointed prized Balinese to him for a Turkish Van in 1982. That represented the first official Turkish Van to arrive in the United States.

Today, the Turkish Van is accepted for championship status by the Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association.