The Turkish Angora (Turkish:
Ankara Kedisi) is a
domestic cat. Turkish
Angoras are one of the ancient, naturally-occurring cat breeds, having
originated in central
Turkey, in the Ankara region.
They mostly have a white, silky, medium-long length coat, no undercoat and
fine bone structure. There seems to be a connection between Ankara Cats and
Persians (see below), and the Turkish Angora is also a distant cousin of the
Turkish Van. Although they are known for their shimmery white coat, currently
there are more than twenty varieties including black, blue, reddish fur. They
come in tabby and tabby and white, along with smoke varieties, and are in every
color other than pointed, lavender, and cinnamon (all of which would indicate
breeding to an outcross).
Eyes may be blue, green or amber, but it is often a combination of one blue
and one amber. The W gene responsible for white coat and blue eye is closely
related to the their hearing ability, and presence of a blue eye can indicate
the cat is deaf to the side the blue eye is located. However, a great many blue
and odd-eyed whites have normal hearing, and even deaf cats lead a very normal,
if indoor, life.
Ears are sharp and relatively bigger, head is long and wide. Another
characteristic is the tail, which is kept parallel to the back.
Turkish Angora is an intelligent, adorable and very curious breed, very
active throughout their life-span. Angoras love to bathe with their owners
(another link to the cousin
Van cat, which is known as "the swimming cat"). They also tend to bond with
their owners and try to be the center of attention, often doing their part in
conversations. They usually don't like to be held for long, but like to stay in
human presence, happily playing for hours.
Turkish Angoras are also very fond of high places, such as the tops of doors
and bookshelves. Owners of Turkish Angoras should be careful to avoid letting
electrical wires dangle out in the open. The Angora will chew them with their
exceptionally sharp teeth. Turkish Angoras are also known to run the household
by supervising every activity of their owner.
Like many domestic cats, it is likely that Turkish Angora descended from the
African wildcat and led the way to Persian cats. The mountainous regions of
Turkey allowed for confinement of the long haired breeds like Turkish Van Cat
and Turkish Angora, and it is reported by French biologist de Buffon that
long-furred cats have originated in Asia Minor.
Longhaired cats were imported to
Britain and France from Turkey, Persia and Russia as early as the late 1500s,
though there are indications that they appeared in Europe as early as 1300s due
to the Crusades. The Angora cat was recognized as a distinct breed in Europe by
the early 1600s. Attempts to breed them outside Turkey yielded little success.
One theory speaks about the strong negative electrical fields dominant in
especially in Ankara.
In the early 1900s, the government of Turkey in conjunction with the Ankara
Zoo began a meticulous breeding program to protect and preserve the pure white
Angora cats with blue and amber eyes, a program that continues today. The zoo
particularly prized the odd-eyed Angoras (cats with eyes of differing colors).
Angora, Muezza, was reputed to be an odd-eyed cat. The Zoo has its own cat
facility which houses both the Van cat as well as the Angora cat. According to
Dr. Can Ersoy, a biologist working at the zoo, the Van cat is about to become
extinct, but there is a great deal of work being done in eastern Turkey to try
and stop this. At the zoo, the Angora cat is kept under strict supervision, and
kittens are sold only to people who can provide them with a good home
The Angora cat, which was brought to the
United States in 1955, was accepted for pedigree. Most longhaired cats are
descended from the Angora, and the Persian is the result of selective breeding
with Angora cats. In 1970, the CFA was the first U.S. registry to accept the
Turkish Angora for registration. In 1973, the CFA accepted the Angora for
Championship, but until 1978 only pure
white Angoras were registrable. Today, all North American registries accept the
Turkish Angora. While numbers are still small, the gene pool is growing, with
the registration totals gaining ground each year.