TURKISH ANGORA CAT BREED
No one is really sure where or how the Turkish Angora originated. Often recounted is the theory that the Angora developed from the longhaired Pallas cat (Felis manul), an Asian wildcat about the size of the domestic, but this is doubtful. The Pallas has fundamental differences from the domestic feline and, unlike today’s affectionate Angoras, is virtually untamable. It is likely that the Turkish Angora developed from the African wildcat, like all other domestic cats. Possibly some crossbreeding occurred between the two.
The recessive mutation for long hair in felines probably occurred spontaneously centuries ago and was perpetuated through interbreeding in confined, mountainous areas that would limit outcrossing, like the Lake Van region in Turkey. (The French naturalist De Buffon, writing in the later part of the 1700s, wrote that cats with long fur came from Asia Minor.)
However they developed, longhaired cats have been noted in Turkey and the surrounding neighborhoods for centuries. According to the legend, Mohammed (570 – 632 A.D.), founder of the Islamic faith, was so fond of cats that he once cut off his sleeve rather than disturb his beloved Angora Muezza, who was sleeping in his arms. Formerly called “Ankara” cats (the name of the Turkish capital was changed from Angora to Ankara in 1930), Ankara is also home to longhaired Angora rabbits and goats prized by the Turkish people for their long, fine hair.
Longhaired cats were imported to Britain and France from Turkey, Persia, Russia, and Afghanistan as early as the late 1500s. The Angora had definitely found its way to Europe by the early 1600s, and by the late 1700s Angoras were being imported into America.
In the early days of the cat fancy, Turkish Angoras were highly prized. As the story goes, one Turkish Angora owner turned down an offer of $5,000 for her beloved Angora at an 1890 cat show in London.
Gradually, however, the Persian became the preferred type of cat in the European cat fancy. The Angora was used extensively in Persian breeding programs to add length and silkiness to the Persian coat. Later, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy decided that all longhaired breeds should be simply called “longhairs”, Also confusing was the tendency of cat fanciers to call any longhair a Persian or Angora, despite its bloodline. Persians, Angoras, and Russian Longhairs were bred together indiscriminately. Except in their native land, Angoras ceased to exist as a pure breed. They stopped appearing in the show halls and from registration records. By the 1900s Angoras had virtually vanished.
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), because they are believed to be touched by Allah. Mohammed’s Angora, Muezza, was reputed to be an odd-eyed cat.
Because the Turkish people valued the cats so highly, obtaining Angoras from the Ankara Zoo was very difficult, but in 1962 Liesa F. Grant, wife of Army Colonel Walter Grant who was stationed in Turkey, was successful in importing a pair of the zoo’s Turkish Angoras to America, complete with certificates of ancestry. These imports revived interest in the breed and soon other breeders began developing the breed. The Grants were instrumental in achieving CFA recognition for the Angora.
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 registered. 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.
Turkish Angora fanciers are as attached to their cats as their cats are to them. Turkish Angoras seem to invoke strong responses in their humans with their symmetry, intelligence, and devotion to their humans. Angoras bond with their owners completely; an Angora is not happy unless it is right in the middle of whatever you’re doing. They enjoy a good conversation and can keep up their end of the discussion with the best of them. Angoras are good-natured, but determined. Once an Angora gets an idea into its head, you might as well just give in and spare yourself the lengthy argument.
Turkish Angoras have a great need to play and enjoy playing a good-natured joke on their favorite humans every now and then. They can be mischievous and action-packed when they’re in the mood. Turkish Angoras love practicing their pounce on scraps of paper or unsuspecting human toes whatever catches their fancy. When in movement, which is most of the time, Turkish Angoras seem to flow with the grace of dancers. Highly intelligent, Angoras are problem solvers that like to be in control of their surroundings; they will only tolerate being held for a few minutes before jumping down to bat at sunbeams and chase feathers. They’ll stay in the room, though, so you can watch their antics admiringly.
Along with its cousin the Turkish Van, the Turkish Angora is known for its swimming prowess, and will even plunge in for an occasional swim. Not every Turkish Angora enjoys water, but many do, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
While pure white Turkish Angoras have been the norm for many years, Turkish Angoras in other colors are becoming increasingly popular. As is true of any breed, the pure white, blue-eyed Angora can be born partially or totally deaf. This is not a defect of the Turkish Angora breed itself, but rather a defect in the dominant W gene that produces white coat color and blue eyes in felines. This gene has been linked to a form of degenerative, hereditary deafness that affects the organ of Corti in the cochlea of the ear. Odd-eyed Angoras will generally be deaf in only one ear, on the blue-eyed side. While hearing-impaired Angoras must be kept out of harm’s way, they otherwise enjoy life just as much as their hearing siblings and adapt to their hearing loss remarkably well.
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Activity
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Playfulness
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Need for Attention
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Affection
- ☆☆ Need to Vocalize
- ☆☆☆☆ Docility
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Intelligence
- ☆☆☆☆ Independence
- ☆☆☆☆☆ Healthiness and Hardiness
- ☆☆☆☆☆ Grooming needs
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Good with children
- ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Good with other pets
General: The ideal Turkish Angora is a balanced, graceful cat with a fine, silky coat that shimmers with every movement.
Body: Medium size, but overall balance, grace and fineness of boning are more important than size; torso long and slender; shoulders same width as hips; rump slightly higher than shoulders; finely boned with firm musculature.
Head: Small to medium, in balance with length of body; medium long, smooth wedge; no break; muzzle a continuation of the smooth lines of wedge with neither pronounced whisker pad nor pinch.
Ears: Large, wide at base, pointed, and tufted; set closely together, high on head, vertical, and erect.
Eyes: Large; almond-shaped; slanting slightly upward with open expression. Color any shade of green, gold, green-gold, copper, blue, or odd-eyed; no relationship between eye and coat color.
Tail: Long and tapering from a wide base to a narrow end; full brush.
Coat: Single-coated, length varies; tail and ruff should be long, full, finely textured, and have silklike sheen; britches apparent on hind legs.
Color: Any color or pattern except those showing hybridization resulting in the colors chocolate, lavender, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white.
Disqualify: Cobby body type; kinked or abnormal tail; crossed eyes.
Allowable outcrosses: None.