The Turkish Angora cat was first discovered centuries ago in the snowy rugged mountains of Angora (now known as Ankara), Turkey. It is not known when the breed first originated or how it got its beautiful appearance. Most believed that the long hair came about through spontaneous mutation cause by a recessive gene. The trait then continued to develop through inbreeding and natural selection under the harsh weathers and temperatures in the mountainous areas, which also limited out crossing.
When the Turkish Angora was transported to Europe, it looked as much as it does today. White has been the distinctive coat color of this breed even though it comes in many more other colors and patterns. Besides the Turkish Angora, Persian and Russian longhaired cats were also imported to Europe in the 1600s. These three beautiful longhair cats quickly gained popularity for their beautiful coats.
The Turkish Angoras, together with the Persians and other exotic cat breeds, was first imported to North America in the 1800s. In 1887, British cat fancy decided to group all the longhaired cats into one category, i.e., longhairs. Interbreeding then happened among Turkish Angoras, Persians and Russian Longhairs. The Turkish Angora was used extensively in the Persian breeding program which led to the confusion between the use of ‘Angora’ and ‘Persian’ in describing a longhaired cat.
The Persian gradually became the preferred longhaired cat to the Turkish Angora. This led to the disappearance of the Turkish Angora in cat show halls; limiting its existence only in their native land. The Turkish government foreseeing the threat of extinction faced by its national treasure, then started a breeding program in 1971 at the Ankara zoo.
Interest for this statuesque breed in North America was regenerated only after World War II, which brought about the importation of the breed from Turkey in order to re-establish the blood line. However, it has become difficult to obtain this highly valued breed from the Ankara zoo without any help.
The first two Turkish Angoras were imported in 1962 with the help of Liesa Grant, wife of Army Colonel Walter Grant, who was stationed in Turkey at that time. The couple returned to Turkey in 1966 and brought back another pair for their breeding program. After the doors were opened, more breeders managed to obtain the breed either from Turkey or from Europe, where other breeders had access to the Ankara zoo or to Turkish people.
With efforts and cooperation among the breeders, the Turkish Angora became established in the soil of North America. Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) became the first North America registry to accept the breed for registration in 1970. It then promoted the breed to the championship status in 1973. Till date, all North America cat associations had followed suit and accepted the Turkish Angora of all colors and patterns into their registries.
The Turkish government had decided to ban the export of white Turkish Angoras in 1996 in order to preserve the small gene pool. However, Turkish Angoras of other colors and patterns are still being used as stocks for the gene pool in North America.
Physical appearance and attributes
The Turkish Angora is considered one of the world’s most beautiful cat breeds. This is evident in its poised, stately and refined stance. It is a medium sized cat that weighs 7 – 10 pounds for males and 5 – 8 pounds for females. The body is long and slender with fine boning and substantial musculature. The shoulders run the same width as the hips with the rump appearing slightly higher than the shoulders, due in part by the longer hind legs. The legs are long and tapers into small, round and dainty paws. Tufts are desirable between the toes. It swishes a long, gorgeous plum tail that tapers to a narrow end.
A medium-long head of smooth wedge is carried on its strong and graceful neck. Viewed in profile two planes of gentle contours can be traced from its flat top to the tip of its nose with the change in angle occurring slightly above the eyes. The muzzle is a smooth continuation of the wedge head with no pronounced whisker pads of breaks. Ears of Turkish Angora are large with a broad base. They are well-spaced and are longer than it is wide. Set erect, they give the cat an alert stance. It has a pair of large, almond-shaped eyes that slants slightly upward with an open expression. Eye colors have no relation with coat colors and can appear in any hue of a particular color. Acceptable colors include blue, green amber and odd-eye.
Turkish Angora wears a single-layer coat that shimmers with every movement. The length varies on different cats. However, the hair length is evidently longer on its full, plum tail. Hind legs are furnished with britches and the neck is adorned with a generous ruff. The hair is finely textured with a silk-like sheen. While solid white is the highly prized and most popular coat color, all colors and patterns are accepted with the exception of those the shows evidence of hybridization.
Personality and temperament
Beneath the graceful and stately appearance of a Turkish Angora is an athletic, intelligent and boisterous nature. Such nature brings it easily to the highest point in the house or behind any closed doors. Playfulness and curiosity remain well into its senior years and it has the will and determination to get the attention and things it wants.
A friendly and sociable breed, the Turkish Angora can receive guests, children and other family pets well. However, it loves its own people best and reserves its store of affections and love for them. Cuddles and draping across your shoulders are just the few ways this breed endears to you.
Patience and a sense of humor will be needed to deal with the challenges that this precocious, resourceful, strong-willed and playful cat brings. Yet the challenges have been made incomparable in light of its winsomeness, gentleness and devotion.
Care and health issues
A healthy Turkish Angora can be expected to live up to an average of 15 – 18 years. This is a generally healthy breed. Health problems include those that are common among cats. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease that causes the thickening of heart muscles; as well as ataxia, a fatal neuromuscular disorder that affects kittens as young as 2 – 4 weeks old, are two health issues that have occurred in this breed. Such diseases can be identified through scans, allowing the maintenance of a healthy breed line. To ensure that the cat purchased is of a healthy breed, it is important to ask for a written health guarantee when obtaining the cat.
Grooming the Turkish Angora’s single coat is easy since there is no undercoat that causes mats or tangles. A weekly brushing to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oil would suffice. A bath can be considered once every couple of months, especially for white Turkish Angora. Other basic grooming should include frequent teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste. Nail trimming and ear checks should also be carried out whenever necessary.
The ideal home
The Turkish Angora is an ideal cat for singles, families and even first time cat owners. It is a sociable cat that enjoys the companionship of children, other family pets and even guests. Due to its highly active and interactive nature, it will not do well in homes where it is left alone for an extended amount of time. On the same note, this cat would also require the space to run and play. Provide it with cat puzzles, toys, cat trees and cat gym sets to encourage an active and hearty growth.
Make sure that outdoor spaces are safe and escape-proof. The Turkish Angora is a much treasured cat in its native country, and it should be treated so. Considering its charming and affectionate nature, it is not difficult to be won over by it and to shower it with love and attention.