Origin and History
The Turkish Angora has its roots in the mountainous Ankara region of Turkey. There it occurred naturally, developing its long coat to shield it from the cold mountain winds.
Records suggest that the Turkish Angora may have been brought to Europe by armies returning from the Crusades in the 14th century. However, the first confirmed record of the breed in Europe dates back to 16th century France. The breed became very popular throughout western Europe and was featured in many of the first cat shows in the late 1800s.
Unfortunately this newfound popularity very nearly drove the breed to extinction. Persian breeders began crossing their cats with Turkish Angoras to improve coat length. This resulted in the number of true Turkish Angoras dwindling to dangerously low numbers.
Turkish authorities and cat lovers took notice of this and placed several Turkish Angora specimens in the Ankara Zoo to initiate a breeding program. When U.S. Army Colonel Walter Grant and his wife, Liesa, were stationed in Turkey in 1962, they visited the Ankara Zoo and took a liking to the Turkish Angora. They convinced the zoo to let them bring a pair of cats back to the U.S. to breed.
From there the Turkish Angora’s popularity as its own breed soared. Many breeders traveled from the U.S. to Turkey to procure their own cats. In 1972 the Cat Fancier’s Association awarded championship status to the Turkish Angora. Originally only white cats were acceptable; it was not until 1978 that colored varieties were permitted for registration.
Today all North American and European cat registries recognize the Turkish Angora, including the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe), the International Cat Association (TICA) and the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA).
Though all-white Turkish Angoras are the most sought-after type, they are also among the rarest today. Very few remain in Turkey, which continues to maintain its white Turkish Angora breeding programs to this day. North American breeders are switching their focus to colored varieties, which are equally as beautiful but tend to have fewer health problems than white cats.
Coat, Colors & Appearance
The stereotypical Turkish Angora is all-white, and indeed some breed purists feel that white is the only true Turkish Angora color. However all western cat registries accept colored varieties.
Other than white, Turkish Angoras may be solid red, cream, black or blue. White and cream varieties have pink noses and paw pads; other colors have matching noses and paw pads. Bicolor varieties are experiencing a surge in popularity, sporting one of the above solid colors on their backs with white chests, muzzles and legs. Tabby, tortie and calico patterns are also acceptable
The only non-permissible Turkish Angora colors are those that indicate crossbreeding, such as chocolate or lavender colors. Point patterning is also not acceptable.
Coats are long and smooth with a silky sheen. The Turkish Angora should not have an undercoat. The tail is plumed and brush-like, wide at the base and tapering to a narrow point.
The large eyes of the Turkish Angora are often described as deep and sparkling. They can be blue, green, green-gold or amber. They can also be heterochromic (such as one blue eye and one amber eye). Heterochromia is a trait that is particularly prized by the Turkish people, though cat registries do not give preference to it over even-colored eyes.
Turkish Angoras are small to medium cats with slim builds. Shoulders and hips are the same width and legs are long. Specimens from Turkey have much thicker bones than show cats in the U.S., where fine bones are preferred. Paws are small and dainty, with tufts of fur between the toes. Despite their fine appearance, Turkish Angoras are quite muscular underneath all the fur.
The Turkish Angora’s head is a medium-long wedge and is slightly small in proportion with the rest of the body. Ears are large and the neck is long. This breed is small to medium sized, with females weighing between 5-10 pounds and males weighing between 8-12 pounds on average.
Agile and outgoing, the Turkish Angora makes a great companion for those who love to exchange affections with their cats. As a house pet, the Turkish Angora will explore every nook and cranny, meowing the whole time to tell you all about what she’s found.
Your Turkish Angora will gladly interact with anyone who will pay attention to him, but he tends to form the strongest bond with just one person. He will always be there to greet his favorite person at the door. If he perceives danger, his instinct will be to protect you. The love a Turkish Angora feels for his owner is one of the strongest in the cat world
Her delicate looks are deceiving. This is a very active cat who is always in search of an outlet for her energy. She’ll run laps around the house and go “hunting” for dust bunnies. In between workouts you’ll find her perched atop a bookcase or open door, surveying her kingdom from up high. Once she’s all tuckered out for the day, though, she’ll happily fall asleep next to you on your pillow.
All this is not to say that the Turkish Angora is an angel all the time. She has a mischievous streak and a stubborn soul. It is best to be strict when enforcing her boundaries, as she only needs to cross them once to get a taste for trouble.
Her high intelligence only makes her more capable of doing things she shouldn’t, like opening doors and knocking your favorite things off their shelves if you’re not at her beck and call.
Because the Turkish Angora is so hungry for attention, it’s best to have a companion for him if you are not at home most of the time. He will do well with other cats and dogs as long as they are submissive to him. This is a cat who sees himself as the boss and has no interest in changing that. Others will simply need to fall in line.
The Turkish Angora is fine with children and will enjoy playing with them, as long as the children are well-supervised and gentle. This cat does not tolerate tail pulling or being picked up without permission.
Though the Turkish Angora has long hair, it’s easy to groom as there is no undercoat to deal with. Weekly brushing should suffice for most cats of this breed. White or cream colored cats may need bathing every other month or so. This may not be as bad as it sounds – some owners report that their Turkish Angoras love water and seem to look forward to bath time!
As with all cats, dental care is important. Teeth should be brushed at least once a week to prevent tooth and gum disease. Ears should also be carefully cleaned to prevent ear infections.
Turkish Angoras are generally very healthy, long-living cats, but they do have several breed-specific health risks.
- Deafness: Blue-eyed white cats of any breed may be predisposed to deafness of varying degrees. The Turkish Angora is no exception. A white cat with two blue eyes may be partially or completely deaf in both ears. Heterochromic cats may be deaf in one ear. Deaf cats can still live happy, healthy lives but may require special care to keep them safe without their hearing.
- Ataxia: This rare neuromuscular disorder affects kittens between two and four weeks of age. Kittens with this disorder will exhibit shaking movements. This is a fatal condition and kittens with it do not survive to adulthood
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This is a rare heart condition where the heart is enlarged. It usually develops between the ages of two and six. This occurs more commonly in Turkish Angoras than in other breeds but a genetic link has not been definitively established.
What Makes the Turkish Angora Different?
The Turkish Angora is the yin-yang of the cat world. A dainty, elegant exterior contrasts an athletic, effervescent personality. Long-lived and fiercely loyal, the Turkish Angora is as entertaining as it is beautiful. Unlike other long-haired cats, it is easy to groom and health problems are relatively rare.
Buying a Turkish Angora
If the Turkish Angora sounds like the right cat for you, your first step will be contacting a breeder. There are relatively few Turkish Angora breeders in the U.S.; this list shows three breeders currently active.
Adopting a Turkish Angora
Turkish Angoras probably won’t be found in your local animal shelter, but there are several resources for adopting one. The Turkish Angora Rescue Facebook page posts regular updates whenever a Turkish Angora is available for adoption. A local purebred cat rescue may also have Turkish Angoras to adopt out. If not, ask if they can notify you when and if they receive one in need of a home.