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Meet the Thorpie of the cat world - a feline freestyler with a rare love for water. Not only will the Turkish Van swim up a storm, but it can also turn its paw to a variety of other aquatic pursuits. For example, these cats will happily help you with such household chores as doing the dishes, assisting with the laundry, washing the family car and watering the garden. Some have even been known to join their owners in the bath!

Cats, for the most part, actively dislike getting wet - so why should this breed be any different? To understand the Turkish Van's affinity with water, we need to look back at its history.

An ancient breed, it evolved around the Lake Van region of south-eastern Turkey. Here, the native cats developed the habit of swimming out into the harbour to greet incoming fishing boats, in the hope of scoring themselves a free meal. When not scrounging for a fishy feed, they would amuse themselves by playing in the shallows. This swimming cat of Turkey obviously needed to have a waterproof coat. To withstand the climatic extremes of this region also necessitated two different coat lengths, according to the season. However despite being a semi-longhair in winter and a shorthair in summer, the breed sports its beautiful brush-like tail in its full glory throughout the year, regardless of seasonal moulting of the main body coat.

The Turkish Van has a very distinctive coat pattern, with, auburn head markings and tail contrasting with its glistening chalk-white jacket. The white patch on its forehead is said to symbolise the thumbprint of Allah. Eye colour is either blue or amber - or alternatively cats can be "odd-eyed", with one of each colour. The coat, which is cashmere-like in texture, is virtually non matting, making this a very easy-care cat to own.


The Turkish Van is a powerful puss, solidly built and muscular, but taking some three to five years to reach full maturity.

A lively, intelligent breed with an assertive personality, inquisitive nature, hearty appetite and playful attitude to life, the "Turk" makes a rewarding companion in the right hands. Although somewhat apprehensive with strangers, these cats are very affectionate towards their owners, with whom they bond very closely - being almost dog-like in their devotion. Other "canine" characteristics include the ability to walk on a lead and to retrieve.

This native Anatolian working cat has now well and truly acclimatised to being a household pet in the suburbs of Oz. So if this fascinating feline with its water loving ways appeals to you, then the Turkish Van may well prove to be the very cat to splish, splash, splosh its way into your heart - for a lifelong love affair !

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 21/04/07 13:17 Views: 9849

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