About the Turkish Angora Cat Breed
The Turkish Angora is a naturally occurring breed from the “old country,” with traces of its line going back several millennia.
Turkish Angora Physical Characteristics
Medium in size with a long, svelte, well-balanced body, it is the very picture of grace. Long is the adjective that best typifies this cat breed. The Angora has a long body, long, slim legs, long tail, large ears and wide eyes. It is a dainty cat, with fine bones, a slim chest and a super soft coat that belies its hardiness.
Traditionally, pure white has been the favored color and for a long time the cat associations accepted only white for competition. But, Angora’s are naturally a varied breed and recently breeders have been emphasizing the variety of colors they are born with, which can be upwards of twenty colors in addition to tabby patterns and smoke varieties.
It is renowned most for its gorgeous, long, silky coat which seems to shimmer when it moves. The coat is single layered only but its length is dictated by season. The hair thins out in the warm months, when the Angora takes on more of a shorthair appearance, and in the cold months the coat grows in thicker and longer. Because it has only one layer there is no need for worrying about matting.
Turkish Angora Personality and Temperament
This is a smart and intelligent cat who bonds well with humans. With its affectionate and playful personality, the Angora is a top choice for families. It gets along well with everyone from children to seniors and visitors.
Things to Consider
The Angora gets along great with other pets in the home, but it will make clear who is in charge, and who the house belongs to. It likes to resolve its own problem and be independent at times, and is not the best cat for someone who wants a lap cat – it does not like to be held for more than a few minutes at a time. The breed can also be vary vocal, and will carry out an animated conversation for a long time.
Turkish Angora Care
Ideal Living Conditions
It is devoted to its human family and does not do well to be left alone. The Angora has a desire to participate in all of your activities and is extremely persistent in getting your attention.
Because the Angora is a single-coated breed, it requires little more than an occasional brushing depending on the time of year.
Turkish Angora Health
The breed is known for being generally healthy, but white Turkish Angoras with blue eyes are prone to deafness and some may develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common form of heart disease in cats.
Turkish Angora History and Background
There are many theories as to the origin of the Turkish Angora. According to one theory, the long-haired Pallas, an Asian wildcat which is about the size of the domestic cat, is the Angora’s ancestor. However, this is often refuted because the Pallas is wild and aggressive, while the Angora is affectionate. Another theory (and a more likely scenario) suggests the Angora, like other domestic cats, originated from the African wildcat.
These cats probably acquired the long-haired characteristic from mutations many centuries ago, thriving in the mountainous areas of Turkey. Many stories are associated with this breed. One such legend tells of Mohammed (570 to 632 A.D.), founder of the Islamic faith, and his decision to cut off his sleeve rather than disturb an Angora Muezza which was sleeping in his arms. These cats, once referred to as Ankara cats after the Turkish capital, were sent to Britain and France from Turkey, Persia, Russia, and Afghanistan during the late 1500s.
The Angoras were then introduced to America in the late 1700’s, and gathered quick fanfare. Unfortunately, they began to lose popularity after the arrival of the Persian cat. The Angora was crossed with the Persian to increase the length and silkiness of its coat. Over time the crossings allowed the genes for white fur from the Angora to become a stable part of the Persian line, changing the coloring of the Persian from a static gray.
The reverse benefit was not true for the Angora. It was gradually losing its unique traits and the offspring from the pairings came to resemble the Persian more, until it was the Persian that became the dominant breed. As the Angora lost its breed purity due to the cross breeding, its popularity plummeted to an all time low in the 1900s, forcing the Turkish government to take action. The Turkish people placed a high value on their white-coated, blue-eyed and odd-eyed cats, so the government, along with the Ankara Zoo, began a careful breeding program to protect and preserve the pure white Angora cats with blue and amber eyes; a program which has continued.
The peculiarly colored odd eyes inherent in some Angoras are treasured by the people of Turkey, and are encouraged at the zoo, as they are believed to have been Allah’s favorites (Muezza, Mohammed’s beloved cat was an Angora with unusual eyes). To this day, it it near impossible to acquire a white Angora from Turkey. They can only be found at the zoo or in the homes of breeders. Even in Turkey, ownership of a white Angora is rare.
In 1962, Liesa F. Grant, wife of Army Colonel Walter Grant, who was posted in Turkey, was successful in importing a pair of Turkish Angoras to the U.S., along with their certificates of ancestry. Other Americans who were traveling through or had been stationed in Turkey were also taking Angoras back to the U.S., and it was this small but hardy population that provided the bedrock for a U.S. line of Angoras. With diligent work from this community of Angora fanciers, the breed grew to be numerous enough to be granted registration status with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1968, and for provisional competition status in 1970.
In 1973 the CFA gave full recognition to the Turkish Angora, but until 1978, registration was limited to white Angoras only. Since 1978, the breed has been accepted in all of its natural colors, and is now a full participating class in all of the cat associations in North America.
Registration numbers show that the white Angora is still the most sought after, but breeders have been focusing more energy on the other colors, with the realization that the white coat is no more beautiful than many of the other natural colors. In addition to that, in terms of possible health concerns the white coat is also not always best for the vitality of the breed. Enthusiasts have also contributed to the rising popularity of the colored Angora, as they have found that it is far easier to find and transport a non-white Angora from its home country.
Because the Turkish zoo and government have only focused their attention on the preservation of the white Angora, all other colors of the breed roam freely through the rural and urban landscapes.