The Turkish Angora has always seemed to me to be a fairy-tale princess of a cat, with beautiful long white fur, eyes as blue as a mountain lake, a loving heart. But hiding behind that image are some secrets. Turkish Angoras are much, much more than they seem on the surface: more mischievous, more colorful and more intelligent and athletic than their looks might imply. In their homeland of Turkey, Angoras are considered national treasures for their beauty and sweetness. A special breeding program at the Ankara Zoo, started in the early 20th century, helped to protect the breed from extinction — in particular, the white cats with odd eyes of blue and gold.
While white cats with blue eyes are probably the image most people see when they think of the breed, Angoras are now bred in many colors and patterns. This not only adds variety but also helps to reduce the incidence of deafness associated with the W gene that causes the white coat and blue eyes. These balletic cats are lithe and muscular, dressed in a silky, shimmery coat. An affectionate nature means that the Turkish Angora will demand to be involved in everything you do, “chatting” with you about how you should do things. The cats have a sense of humor and aren’t above playing tricks on their people. Be prepared for the fact that your new cat may be smarter than you.
Living with a Turkish Angora
A Turkish Angora. Photography by Tetsu Yamazaki.
- A Turkish Angora likes to follow you around as you go about the house. Don’t get one if you think your cat will merely be a sofa ornament.
- Turkish Angoras are inquisitive and active. Fortunately, they are also graceful, so with any luck they won’t break your belongings when they leap onto the mantel to go exploring. Some top agility cats are Angoras.
- The playful and intelligent Angora plays fetch, learns tricks, teaches himself to turn on the sink faucet for a bath and more. He likes to have his own way, and once he gets an idea about something, it’s hard to change his mind.
History of the Turkish Angora
Legend has it that Marie Antoinette shipped her Turkish Angoras to America in advance of her planned escape. They made it out alive; she didn’t. Photography ©duncan1890 | Getty Images.
- The Angora is one of the oldest-known breeds and contributed to the development of the Persian.
- Angoras were known in Europe by the 17th century, and in the 18th century they were favorites in the French court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
- The cats nearly died out in the early 20th century, but they were saved by the Ankara Zoo breeding program and by the interest of an American Army wife, Liesa F. Grant, who acquired a pair in Turkey and brought them to the U. S. in 1954.
- The Cat Fanciers’ Association began registering Turkish Angoras in 1968 and accepted them for championship competition in 1972. The breed was accepted for championship status in The International Cat Association in 1979.
What you should know about the Turkish Angora
A Turkish Angora close up. Photography by Tetsu Yamazaki.
- The Turkish Angoras is a small to medium-size cat, weighing 5 to 10 pounds. He has large, tufted ears that sit high on the head, almond-shaped eyes and a gorgeous plume of a tail.
- Some, but not all, white cats with blue eyes or odd eyes may be deaf in the ear that’s on the same side as the blue eye. This doesn’t affect their ability to be a good pet, although you may notice that they meow more loudly than other cats because they can’t hear themselves.
- Turkish Angoras are generally healthy. Congenital deafness and transfusion reactions because of their type B blood are the main concerns to be aware of. They can live 15 to 20 years.
- The Angora’s silky coat is easy to comb and doesn’t mat easily. Groom the cat once or twice a week.
Fun Facts About the Turkish Angora
- Besides white, Turkish Angoras come in black, red, blue, calico, tabby, bicolor (a color and white), shaded silver, tortoiseshell, smoke and many other colors. The only colors or patterns not permitted are chocolate, lavender and pointed.
- Most Turkish Angoras enjoy playing in water. Don’t be surprised if yours decides to join you in the bathtub.
- The gene for long hair in cats may be a gift from the Turkish Angora’s distant ancestors.
- Eyes of blue? Yes — and also green, gold, amber and odd-eyed (each eye is a different color). Blue eyes range from sky blue to sapphire; green from gooseberry to emerald. Some cats with gold or amber eyes have a greenish cast or ring, known as green gold.
Kim Campbell Thornton has been writing about cats and dogs for 32 years. She is the award-winning author of more than two-dozen books and hundreds of articles on pet care, health and behavior.
Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you!
Thumbnail: Photography ©Instants | Getty Images.
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