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Sie sind hier: » Startseite» Österreich» Katzen-Rassen» Türkisch Van» 

1. Historical Background of the Turkish Van


Olga Mironova, World Cat Federation (WCF) all-breed judge from Russia holding an example of one of the newest breeds, the all-white Turkish Van
1.1 Van patterned Turkish Vans

In Europe and the United States the Turkish Van is mostly known as a semi-longhaired cat with a unique pattern: colored markings restricted primarily to the head and tail (piebald gene). They were first brought to Europe (the UK) in 1955, by two British photographers, Sonja Halliday and Laura Lushington. When working in Turkey, they were given a male and female kitten. Fascinated by these unusual cats, they took them back with them to Britain.

After the inevitable long period of quarantine, the two animals arrived at Laura Lushington's home, where it soon became clear that they belonged to an exceptionally attractive breed, which was new to the world of pedigree cats. In order to start a serious breeding program with them, they collected five more examples on subsequent trips to Eastern Turkey. Then began the procedure of establishing them as an officially recognized new breed. It took 14 years and the breed was at last given recognition in 1969. The Turkish Van Cat was late appearing in the United States, the first specimens not arriving there until 1982.

1.2 All-white Turkish Vans (in Turkish: Van Kedisi)

Anyway, by having these cats, with colored markings on head and tail, recognised as Turkish Vans, a problem arose. A curious discovery about the true coloring of the Van Cat was made by feline expert Roger Tabor, during location filming for his 1991 television series 'The Rise of the Cat'. He visited Lake Van and discussed the breed with local people in Turkey, only to find that they considered a true Van Cat to be an all-white animal, without any markings on head and tail. There were cats present with auburn markings that are so well known in the West, but they were considered to be inferior to the all-white ones.

In Turkey the all-white Turkish Van is known as 'Van Kedisi', meaning Cat from Van. The most sought after is an odd eyed white cat, but blue eyed cats are also seen as special; the amber eyed white cat is the least sought after. In the mid-1990s the "Van Cat House", a Van Cat breeding and research center, was established within the campus of Van University (Van Yuzuncu Yil University). An enormous statue of an all-white Turkish Van Cat and kitten stands at the entrance of the city of Van.

1.3 Modern Western ways falling into line with ancient Eastern traditions

All of this came as no surprise to Turkish Van Cat breeder Lois Miles (t2005) who had been given the same information when she had contacted the Turkish Cultural Attaché in Van (Turkey) to ascertain the true status of the breed in its city of origin. Lois Miles wanted a genuine Turkish Van Cat from Van and despite of the difficulties it might cause with Western show judges, to be correct it would have to be an all-white odd-eyed cat. Lois Miles succeeded in obtaining written permission from the Turkish authorities to bring home a white, odd-eyed female. With help of her friends and a Turkish Professor, she brought an all-white kitten called Layla to the UK.

Like Roger Tabor, Lois Miles found that the local Turks preferred the all-white Van Cat. She felt it was purely accidental that the original pair brought back to England in 1955 happened to have auburn markings on the head and tail.

With the advent of Layla, the situation changed, as modem Western ways finally fell into line with ancient Eastern traditions. Since her arrival in the UK, Layla produced many kittens. Among her progeny, there have been several of the 'Turkish Ideal" (all-white) as well as cats with colored markings on the head and tail.

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