Discover the Turkish Angora
The Turkish Angora, originally known simply as the Angora, has been called the ballerina of the cat fancy. These gorgeous, graceful cats are said to “dance into your life with their fine-boned elegance draped in a gossamer silk coat in a variety of colors. The traditional Turkish Angora is a snowy-white feline with a shimmery, medium-length outer coat, absolutely no undercoat and a refined body structure. They come in a range of other colors, including black, blue, cream, red, brown, silver and lilac. They come in various patterns as well, including tabby, tabby-white, tortie and smoke. The fur on the underbelly of the Turkish Angora tends to be slightly wavy, but the rest of its coat is straight.
The Turkish Angora is an affectionate, inquisitive and intelligent companion. They are outgoing, strong-willed and want to be at the very center of their owners’ world. In fact, they seem to expect their owners to be equally interested in what they are doing at any given moment. The breed profile published by The International Cat Association (TICA) claims that if you ignore a Turkish Angora, “you can expect it to engage in activities designed to make you pay attention – like batting one coaster at a time off the table until you stop what you are doing and pay attention to it.” Despite being playful and friendly, the Turkish Angora does enjoy rest and relaxation as well. At times, he can be somewhat aloof – especially with strangers – although at other times he is eager and welcoming. This breed bonds closely with its owners. Turkish Angoras typically tolerate other companion animals in their household, as long as those pets recognize who really rules the roost. The Turkish Angora is rightfully described as one of the true gems of the cat world.
Turkish Angoras are lively, agile and athletic, and they remain active throughout their lifespan. This breed may appear delicate, but in this case appearances are deceiving. This is a solid, muscular animal with an established hunting instinct that is often satisfied by chasing toys or other objects throughout the house.
The Turkish Angora is one of the domestic cat breeds that seek out high places. It may be found on the top of a door, on a refrigerator, on a book shelf or on any other high place from which it can supervise the goings-on of its household.
The Turkish Angora is one of the oldest recognized domestic feline breeds, and its fanciers have gone to great lengths to keep its bloodlines pure. It comes from Ankara (formerly Angora), which is the same area that gave rise to several other animals with delicate frames and long, silky coats. The Turkish Angora is thought to descend from the African wildcat and to be one of the first long-haired cats to reach Europe. Domestic cats brought by traders from Egypt became quite isolated in the mountainous regions of Eastern Anatolia. Through inbreeding, crosses with wild cats and natural selection, these unique animals eventually developed into several different long-haired breeds, including the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora. The Turkish Angora was recognized as a distinct breed in Europe by the early 17th century.
The earliest recorded references to the Turkish Angora date back to 16th century France. These cats were well represented in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, during the dawn of the purebred cat fancy in continental Europe and Great Britain. The beautiful white cat from Turkey was used by the Victorians to launch a breeding program that eventually created the hugely popular Persian breed. As a result, the Turkish Angora almost disappeared. By the early part of the twentieth century, there were virtually no Turkish Angoras on the international show circuit. As the Angora became alarmingly scarce, both in its native land and elsewhere, the Turkish government began a relatively unknown but meticulous breeding program in collaboration with the Ankara Zoo, designed to revitalize, protect and ultimately preserve what they considered to be a national treasure: the fabulously beautiful, pure white Turkish Angora.
Breed fanciers overseas – especially those in North America, Great Britain and Sweden – eventually learned of this selective breeding program and took steps to obtain surplus cats that enabled them to start their own breeding efforts to reestablish this historic breed. It was not easy to acquire Turkish Angoras, because the breeders at the Ankara Zoo were reluctant to let their cats go elsewhere outside of their breeding control. However, in the 1950s, American servicemen saw these exquisite animals at the zoo and took news of them home. Eventually, by the early 1960s the Ankara Zoo permitted Colonel and Mrs. Walter Grant to acquire an odd-eyed white male named Yildiz, as well as an amber-eyed white female named Yildizcek. These two Turkish Angoras became the foundation of the American breeding program. The first American Angora litter was born in 1963.
In 1964, Sergeant and Mrs. Ivan Leinbach reportedly brought a pair of Turkish Angoras to Arizona: Sam Olgum and Aliya’s Snowball. Thereafter, Mrs. Ray Porter apparently brought a pregnant, odd-eyed white female, Belkzar, to America. The sire of that litter was one of the Ankara Zoo males named Sam of Mountain Home. The Grants, who founded the Turkish Angora in the United States, were able to import another breeding pair in 1966 – an amber-eyed white female named Yaman and an odd-eyed white male named Mav. Other cats followed in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.
The Turkish Angora has become a well-established breed in North America. However, it did not reach Great Britain until the 1970s. No outcrosses with other breeds are permitted, as proponents of the breed insist that the Turkish Angora’s bloodlines be kept completely pure. The Turkish Angora was officially recognized and granted championship status by some cat registries in the early 1970s. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) only recognized the snow white variety until 1978, when a wider range of colors became accepted.
While the original name for the ancient breed was “Angora,” that name now is used for a rather recent “re-creation” of the breed that involved introduction of Oriental cats into the pedigree. The pure native form is now officially referred to as the Turkish Angora. The Turkish government’s program in collaboration with the Ankara Zoo continues to this day. In fact, the Zoo has its own cat facility which houses the pure white Turkish Angoras for its selective breeding program. Still, the breed has yet to achieve worldwide recognition.
There are no particular health predispositions reported to be associated with this young breed.