5 Things to Know About Turkish Vans

Turkish Vans are often called “swimming cats” because they love to play in water. These large cats are active and fun, but they can also be a bit clumsy.

Turkish Van cats can have amber or blue eyes, or sometimes even one of each. Photo: iStock.com/sahmay

1. Key Characteristics of Turkish Van Cats

  • Weight: 10–20 pounds for males; 7–12 pounds for females
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years

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

They reach full maturity at 3–5 years old and have long, plumed tails.

Their eyes are fascinating. They can be amber, blue or odd-eyed (heterochromia iridum).

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 protects the feet in colder climates.

Turkish Vans’ 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.

2. Where Turkish Van Cats Came From

The history of the Turkish Van dates to the Middle Ages.

They lived in isolated mountains in the Eastern Anatolian region, which probably prevented their unique features from changing over time. 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 export.

The International Cat Association recognized the breed and awarded it championship status in 1979.

The first Turkish Vans appeared in the United States in 1982.

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

3. How Friendly Are Turkish Van Cats?

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, though: Turkish Vans have great personalities, but they usually don’t like to be held for very long. Although they’re 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. Their strong back legs make them great jumpers.

They enjoy playing, fetching and even playing in water, but they may be a little clumsy.

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

Grooming Needs

LOW: A Turkish Van’s coat doesn’t mat and will repel dirt and water, so grooming is minimal — just a weekly brushing is all that’s needed. Because they enjoy the water, Turkish Vans typically tolerate bathing very well when necessary.

Trim the cat’s nails as needed, and be sure to clean the ears and teeth regularly.

Health Problems

LOW: Turkish Vans are generally quite healthy and don’t have any breed-specific health problems worth noting.

Learn a little more about Turkish Vans here:

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5. Where to Adopt a Turkish Van Cat

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

If you do go through 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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