5 Things to Know About Turkish Vans


Turkish Van cats can have amber, blue or different colored eyes. By: iStock.com/sahmay

1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 10–20 pounds for males, 7–12 pounds for females
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years, on average, but can be as low as 10 years and as high as 17 years

Turkish Vans are large, active cats who love water — so much so that they have been called the “swimming cats.”

They’re slow to mature, reaching full maturity at 3–5 years of age. They have long, plumed tails, and their eyes can be amber, blue or odd-eyed (heterochromia iridum, where each eye is a different color).

The coat is semi-long with no undercoat. It’s also waterproof and soft, repelling dirt and water. The outer coat can shed to grow a shorter coat in hot climates. Alternatively, hair growing between the paw pads can protect the feet in colder climates.

Coat color is usually white with patches of color on the head and tail. The patches may be any standard color but are usually auburn. All-white Turkish Vans with no color patches are referred to as “Van Kedi.”

2. Where They Came From

The history of the Turkish Van dates back to the Middle Ages. So, yeah — a while ago.

They lived in isolated mountains in the Eastern Anatolian region, which probably prevented their unique features from being changed. In the 1950s, English tourists visiting Turkey brought 2 cats back to Great Britain, and the breed continued to flourish.

The cats were named Turkish Vans to avoid confusion with the Turkish Angora cat breed. The cats are considered rare treasures in their area of origin and can be difficult to obtain for importation.

The International Cat Association recognized the breed and awarded it championship status in 1979. The first Turkish Vans appeared in the United States of America in 1982.

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The long coat of Turkish Vans doesn’t mat easily, if at all. By: Wikimedia Commons

3. How Friendly Are They?

Turkish Vans are intelligent, curious, affectionate and active cats. They’re known to follow people from room to room, and they get along with other animals — dogs included.

Sad news for cat cuddlers: Turkish Vans have great personalities, but they usually don’t like to be held for long periods of time. Although they are affectionate, they prefer to come to you for attention rather than the other way around.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: An active cat breed, Turkish Vans love to run and are great jumpers because of their strong back legs. They enjoy playing, fetch and can even play in water, but they may be a little clumsy.

Install some cat towers to entertain them, but note that their sometimes rambunctious nature may cause delicate items in the home to be moved or broken.

Grooming Needs


LOW: The coat does not mat and will repel dirt and water, so grooming is minimal with just a weekly brushing. Since they enjoy water, Turkish Vans typically tolerate bathing very well.

Trim the nails as needed, and clean the ears and teeth regularly.

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Health Problems


LOW: Turkish Van cats are super healthy and don’t have any specific health problems worth noting.

Learn a little more about Turkish Vans here:

5. Where to Adopt One

Turkish Vans are rare, and finding one can be difficult. Check with local rescues and shelters before contacting a breeder.

If you do contact a breeder, ask to meet the cat’s parents and view the breeder’s home or facility to ensure all cats are receiving proper care.

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