Let’s know about Van Cat. Cats can come in all different shapes and sizes from around the world. For many cat lovers, tracing the fascinating origins of a cat breed is part of the fun of owning a cat . Understanding as much as you can about a breed’s history can help you learn the best way to care for them, and you can even learn about new, exotic breeds descended from cats on the other side of the world. This is absolutely the case when it comes to the Van cat, a muscular cat of Turkish origin.
Cats can come in all different shapes and sizes from around the world. For many cat lovers, tracing the fascinating origins of a cat breed is part of the fun of owning a cat . Understanding as much as you can about a breed’s history can help you learn the best way to care for them, and you can even learn about new, exotic breeds descended from cats on the other side of the world. This is absolutely the case when it comes to the Van cat, a muscular cat of Turkish origin.
History of the Van Cat
The story of the Van Cat begins in Turkey specifically near the lake that has given it its name, Lake Van. The modern Van cat breed descends from the cats in this mountainous region. These descendants are believed to have lived in this area for more than 5000 years as archaeological evidence has been discovered there. Various decorative objects dating back thousands of years have been unearthed in the area, such as carvings and ornaments depicting cats with Van feline characteristics. However, it is not known whether they were native to the region, and later domesticated, or if they arrived in the region that a particular population migrated there. Regardless, the physical characteristics of the Van cat further indicate that they have lived in eastern Turkey for thousands of years. They have long, thick hair in the winter, which they use to survive the long, cold winters in the mountains, but have adapted to shed this fur for the hot summers.
This both cools them down, and makes it easier to swim in the lake to cool off. Ultimately, these biological adaptations may support the idea that the cat is native to the Lake Van area. The first Van cats appeared in Europe about 1000 years ago, from about 1095AD to 1272AD. It is believed that the Crusades played a large role in their transportation as the wars brought large numbers of soldiers, explorers and merchants to the region. Inspired by the cat’s unique coat, various visitors and invaders took them back to Europe as pets and they became known under a variety of names, such as the ringtail cat or the eastern cat. Although ringtails were now well known in Eurasia, they would not be formally bred until the middle of the 20th century.
The modern breed of the Van cat can be traced back to 1955, when two British photographers named Laura Lushington and Sonia Holiday came to Turkey to photograph for the Turkish Ministry of Tourism. During this visit, the women were gifted two van cats that were unrelated to each other while visiting two different places. Upon their return to the UK, the two cats bred and produced identical offspring. Lushington said the Van cat was a purebred. Lushington then formally committed to breeding the Van cat and returned to Turkey to find another pair so they could demonstrate their purebred status through the production of three generations.
In this way, he created a specific standard for the Van cat, and all registered Van cats in the West descend from Lushington’s own population. It is almost unheard of to import a Van Cat directly from their homeland as they are considered a national treasure and quite rare. His standard was recognized in Britain by 1969, and the cat was immediately imported to the United States. Breeding in the US was taken over by Barbara and Jack Rierk in Florida, and the Cat Fanciers Association first registered the breed in 1998. Eventually, the breed achieved championship status in 1994. About 100 Van cats are registered each year, making the breed a relatively rare pet.
Quick Facts about the Van Cat
Now that we have understood the complex history of the Van cat, let us delve a little further into the breed. Because it is a fairly rare breed that originates from abroad, the Van cat is often not well known or understood. Understanding your cat is essential if you’re going to be able to care for it, so let’s start with some Van Cat fun facts:
- Heterochromia, when an animal has two different eye colours , is quite common in Van cats. They often have one amber eye and one blue eye. This is very common in their country of origin as Western-bred Van cats were bred to have matching eyes, much to the amusement of the locals around Lake Van.
- The Van cat has seasonal hair length, which makes classifying them difficult. Officially, he is considered to have semi-long hair.
- Despite its length, his hair is very soft. Many have compared it to Kashmiri.
- They have only one coat, and no undercoat. This means that Van Cat kittens appear to have short hair, and it will take up to 5 years for their coats to grow to full length.
- Their tails and ears do not shed for the summer like the rest of their bodies. They are always long and fluffy.
- They are most famous for their distinctive pattern of fur, which is known as the ‘Van Pattern’. The pattern is white with color on their tail and the top of their head.
- Van cats love to swim and their silky coat is water resistant to support this. This means that they can dry themselves out much faster than other cat breeds.
- Lushington originally named the Van cat as the ‘Turkish cat’, but it was changed to avoid confusion with the Turkish Angora .
- Their love of swimming means they are often referred to as ‘swimming cats’ in their homeland.
All you need to know about the Van Cat
As anyone who has owned several breeds of cat will tell you, each breed has specific needs and new cat owners can often come up with this much, especially when caring for an exotic or rare breed like the Van cat. Rare or exotic breeds are not inherently more challenging that their native cousins, but it is not always worthwhile to do your research to make sure you can provide them with the care and attention you need.
Like humans, cats can have a variety of types. In order to keep them as healthy as possible, you should familiarize yourself with what a healthy Van cat looks like. Van cats are not naturally thin, nor should they be very chunky. They are large, muscular animals with an athletic build, broad shoulders and a short neck. They can weigh up to 18 pounds! The average male should weigh about 16 pounds, while a female should be around 13 pounds. Fortunately, as a breed, the Van cat is in good health. Most Van cats are not genetically predisposed to any specific health problems. This means you can focus on feeding, grooming and caring for them, without the need for additional regular check-ups. Just remember to take them for their general livestock exam and vaccinations.
All-white Van cats, however, are a different story. Unfortunately, like many all-white coats, the white Van cat can suffer from deafness as a result of the genes that make them colorblind. Whether the all-white Van cat can be considered a Van cat, because it does not have a Van pattern, is often debated. For some, it is a breed of its own, known as the Turkish Venkedisi. Regardless of how you catalog a cat, it is important to take care of their ears, know the signs of hearing loss in cats, and bring them in for regular checkups. You should also make sure you know the ancestry of the cat as it is common practice to crossbreed a Turkish Van with a Turkish Van with a Turkish Van. If your cat has been crossbred, the risk is not zero, and you want to continue taking care of their ears, but a cat that has not been crossbred will almost certainly require extra care and attention.
Feeding your Van cat should not be much different from feeding most other cats. They do not require a unique diet or special supplements . Be sure to feed them lots of protein, as all cats are carnivores and Van cats can be particularly active. Kittens will need more protein than cats to thrive. Van cats generally reach maturity before the age of 5 years, so it is important to discuss how you can support each stage of their development with a vet. Van cats are also prone to obesity, then you have to make sure that you are not overfeeding them. If you are ever unsure of your cat’s weight, take them to your veterinarian who can do a body analysis and advise on how to feed them.
Caring for a Van cat requires daily work as they need not only food, but daily exercise and attention. While they are not cuddly cats, they do want your attention and you should play with them every day and provide them with toys that they can play with on their own. As they love to climb, climbing towers and scratching posts is essential, but, as an intelligent, hunting breed, they will also appreciate lots of puzzles and opportunities to chase.
Van cats have quite a unique fur as it is longer in winter and shorter in summer. It is silky and soft in quality, and is quite waterproof. You might think that this creates a challenge. However, the silky-smooth nature of their fur actually reduces matting. This means that, although other long haired cats require daily fur grooming, you only need to brush your Van cat once a week, even in the winter. However, as with all cats, you may need to increase brushing when they shed their fur during the spring.
A cat’s temperament and their history are closely intertwined. Although, working cats are active and lap cats can be sleepy, we can’t be entirely sure why and when van cats were first domesticated. It is unlikely that they were used as working cats. It is most likely that they were not formally domesticated in the region, and were settled through living in partnership with local villages and settlements. This means that the biggest influence on their personality is their environment. Van cats are very active cats that are used to living a free lifestyle in a mountainous area by a lake. It still has many ‘wild’ traits that can even be compared to a lion.
They are protectors and hunters, as are lions, and their mountainous roots mean that they are most comfortable in high places. Van cats are usually found on high shelves, watching their loved ones. Their enjoyment of climbing puts your delicates at risk, so it’s a good idea to keep clothing and other items inside and out of reach. Likewise, his love of water probably stems from his time living near Lake Van. If you have a swimming pool, pond, or live listen a lake, they will enjoy swimming in the summertime. However, be careful that they do not try to swim in strong currents. Keep them away from rivers. You should also consider the sources of water in your home. Toilets should be kept closed for hygiene purposes and they run the risk of drowning if your van cat gets stuck. Even if you don’t have natural water sources, your Vans cat will still enjoy playing with the fox and the water basin. Playing with water provides a wonderful opportunity to bond with a Van Cat.
Bonding is important because Van cats bond closely, and loyally, to their family, which makes them a serious commitment as they will never again work at home and be adopted by another family. It is not a good idea to get a Van cat if you cannot guarantee that you will be eager to care for it for its entire lifetime, which can last up to 17 years. While they always enjoy taking long walks, as they love to watch from a distance, they often let you know just how much they love you, and when they want attention.
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