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Turkish Van

Turkish Van Cat Breed Profile

Weight 9.9-19.8 lbs (4.5-9 kg)
Origin Turkey
Color White with markings
Fur Long, soft
Lifespan 10-16 years
Personality Affectionate, sporty, intelligent, doesn’t like to travel

Turkish Van Photo: Linn Currie/Shutterstock

Breed Characteristics

The Turkish Van is a very old, large and powerful cat breed with long hair and special markings. They always have white fur with markings only on the head and tail. These are called “Van markings”. Their fur is as soft and velvety as cashmere or rabbit fur.

Personality and Temperament

What kind of character does the Turkish Van have? They’re lovable, funny and always provide good entertainment. They’re little clowns. Just a little clumsier. It is very active but not particularly skilled. When they jump up onto high shelves (one of their favorite hobbies), they often end up sending things crashing to the ground. That’s why they’re not exactly suited to people that value a tidy home. They’re better suited to families that are used to a little chaos.


Turkish Vans are also known as swimming cats because of their love of water. No kidding! You’ll often find them dipping their paws in vases, fish tanks and even toilets. Watch out: this can be dangerous. Your home and furniture should always be well secured.

Turkish Van Photo: Vadim Petrakov/Shutterstock

Keeping Them Happy

When a Van isn’t playing with water or jumping about on high shelves, they’ll be found playing or running through the house. They seem to have endless energy. So they’re not lap cats. They don’t like being cuddled, carried or held. Petting? Ok every now and then.

They’re intelligent, so enjoy playing with puzzle toys.

Pros and Cons


  • Adventurous
  • Athletic
  • Very active
  • Very playful
  • Affectionate
  • Loves Water
  • Gets along well with other pets


  • Meows a lot
  • Doesn't like to travel
  • Not a lap cat
  • Requires a lot of grooming

Turkish Van Photo: Luis Echeverrri Urrea/Shutterstock


Angora or Van?

What’s the difference between the Turkish Angora and the Turkish Van? They might look similar at first glance but they’re actually easy to tell apart. The Van is large and has the typical Van markings. The Angora is small to medium-sized and comes in many different colors.


The Turkish Van is a large, muscular cat. Their wide heads are wedge-shaped and they have little tufts of hair on their ears. Their eyes are blue, amber or multi-colored. They have large paws and a bushy tail.

Their soft fur is dense and half-length. Although Vans may look like white cats with markings, they actually have patterned fur with very large white patches. They cover at least 80% of their coat. You can only see their colored fur on their tails and heads. The Van doesn’t have an undercoat.


The Turkish Van was named after Lake Van in Anatolia (Turkey). According to legend, there were Turkish Vans on Noah’s Ark. When they arrived at Mount Ararat (not far from Lake Van), the cat jumped into the water and swam ashore.

Fun Facts

Very rarely, the Van will also have a marking on its neck. This is called “the thumbprint of God” and is considered a holy symbol.

Comparable Breeds

Turkish Van Photo: farbkombinat/