Photo by Tambako The Jaguar

Turkish Van - Breed Profile:

Origin: Turkey
Colors: White with colour markings on head and tail
Size: Large
Coat Type(s): Longhair
Grooming: Regular
Talkativeness: Average
Activity Level: High
Attention Requirement: High
Overall: Moderately docile

Physical characteristics

The Turkish Van is a large cat with a graceful yet muscular body, unusually broad chest and shoulders. The breed is naturally well-balanced and well-proportioned. The strong legs are medium length with neat round paws. The hind legs are slightly longer. The neck is relatively short. The wedge-shaped head is relatively wide with large ears set high. The nose is medium to long with a slight stop in profile. The oval eyes are large and expressive; their colour can be amber, blue, or odd-eyed. The tail is medium length.
Male Vans weigh about 16 pounds, females weigh 12 to 14 pounds.


Turkish Vans are very smart, friendly, affectionate and devoted, which makes them wonderful companions. Whatever you do and wherever you go, they always want to be near. Amazingly energetic and agile, Vans are known to be great climbers. If your Van is suddenly out of sight, check the top of doors and high shelves. Like Bengals and Sokoke cats, Vans are "dog-like" felines that enjoy playing fetch and can quickly learn some other dog tricks. Naturally adaptable, they easily get used to living indoors and, given enough attention and entertainment, become quite happy with that. The Van's tail seems to always be in motion and function on its own. Even if the cat is asleep, the tail may remain active and the Van will eventually have to grab it pin it under the legs for a more peaceful nap.
When it comes to courage, Vans are known to have the heart of a lion. If cornered by dogs, they will defend themselves fearlessly.

Coat and grooming

The chalk white coat of Turkish Vans is the breed's most distinctive feature. It has no yellowing. The colour markings should be limited to the head (a small colour "cap") and tail. Random body spots are acceptable too. There should be no markings on the legs. Overall, the colour should not cover more than 20% of the coat.
The original colour of the Turkish Van (the first colour exported from Turkey) is red tabby and white. Later on, more colours were added: cream, black, blue, cream tabby, brown tabby, blue tabby, tortoiseshell, dilute tortoiseshell, brown torbie, blue torbie.
The hair is semi-long, silky, and water-proof. No undercoat is present. In winter, mature Vans often develop a mane and their coat becomes thick and soft like rabbit fur. In summer and spring, the coat noticeably sheds and feels like cashmere. The coat on the tail remains long all year long, and it looks like a bottle brush. Turkish Vans do not require too much grooming. However, if you want to see their coat at its best, daily brushing is preferable. Bathing should also take place from time to time, for both your cat's pleasure and keeping the coat in a perfect state.


Vans are known to be naturally robust and healthy. They have no genetic tendency to deafness like Angoras and Van Kedisi cats.

Other interesting facts

Turkish Van cats reach their complete maturity at the age of three or four years.
These cats are fond of water, so don't be surprised if your cat wants to share a bath or shower with you. For this reason, they're known as "swimming cats".
It is said that large male Vans cannot follow their head through a fence because of the broadness of their chest and shoulders.

Difference between Turkish Van, Turkish Angora, and Turkish Van Kedisi

Sometimes, all white cats of these three breeds can be confused. There are, however, certain differences.
The Turkish Van is the largest among the three. The Turkish Van Kedisi is always entirely white, and usually odd-eyed (eyes of two different colours). The Turkish Van can have colour markings on the head, tail and body. Angoras descended differently from the Turkish Van. A solid white Turkish Angora carry the W gene associated with white fur, blue eyes and deafness while Turkish Vans do not. Vans with two blue eyes are not deaf like Angoras or Van Kedisi cats.