The Turkish Van
by Diane Marcus
This is the third article published by CFA on the Turkish Van cat. The first article, written by Deborah
Childs Hayes, Ph.D., appeared in the Cat Fanciers’ Almanac, October 1994. The 1994 article describes the origin and history
of this ancient breed which is thought to have originated in the Lake Van region of Turkey, once part of ancient Armenia.
Hayes also discusses the history of Turkish Vans as an officially recognized breed in various countries, as well as the
structure, van pattern, coat and personality of the cat. The second article, also written by Deborah C. Hayes, appeared in
the 1997 CFA Yearbook and provides detailed information on the personality, development, appearance and breed standard
interpretation of the Turkish Van, as well as tips on how to handle the breed in the show ring.
What is a Turkish Van?
A Turkish Van is not something we drive down the street. It is not a type of costume. It is not something to eat. It is not a type of dance. A Turkish Van is a large, wonderful, active, intelligent, beautiful, strong, very powerful, healthy breed of cats, with no known genetic defects. It is a natural breed, not a man-made breed, originating in Turkey. In “The Odyssey of the Turkish Van” (The Cat Fanciers’ Newsletter, December 1988), Dei von Saxe-Coburg (Stellamaris Cattery) stated, “The Turkish Van is unique – in its history, its color and pattern, its personality and its ability to survive, virtually unchanged for thousands of years. It shares an area known as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ with mankind. It is a breed that is indeed worthy of our respect and one that truly deserves our best efforts to preserve it, both in its native lands and in its many adopted homelands throughout the world.”
Turkish Vans are white with color on the head and tail. One of the most notable features of the cat is the magnificent longhair colored and plumed tail, which stands erect and waves in the air when the cat is running. The coat is semi-long, lies flat to the body and there is no undercoat. Males are 9-20 pounds and females are 7-12 pounds. They take three to five years to fully mature.
The breed is extremely active and strong and loves to run, and run, and run. They are truly “moving” vans because they are always in motion, and they move furniture when jumping on or off. The well-muscled, heavy hind quarters make papers on your desk go flying after the cat jumps off. On the tenth day after her arrival, my first Turkish Van wedged her head and then her chest into the slightly opened sliding glass patio door, leading to my backyard. She managed to enlarge the opening so that she got out. I searched unsuccessfully for four days and could not find her.
The breed is extremely intelligent. This same cat that got out of the patio door was in my backyard at 5 AM of the fifth day, and she ran inside the house when I opened the same door through which she escaped. I have one Turkish Van who usually growls if she is standing in the front hall and hears the doorbell ring. While in a hotel room recently, one of my well-traveled male cats ran to the door, growling after hearing strange noises in the hotel hallway. Inspection revealed that the strange noise was a large ladder being dragged down the hallway. These cats can be trained to do tricks and walk on a lead. All Turkish Vans fetch instinctively, and their favorite toy to fetch is a small ball of rolled up paper. They also carry around stuffed animals; sometimes the stuffed animal is larger than the cat’s head. They enjoy stealing your writing instruments and autographing them, and have been known to haul off glasses and chew up the temples. Kittens instinctively use the litter pan and I see no evidence that this behavior is learned from Mom.
In 1955, two British photographers, Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday, were contracted by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism to publicize the country and promote tourism in Turkey, by traveling around and photographing people and places of interest to tourists. While in Turkey, the women became aware of and interested in the native longhaired white cats with auburn markings on the head and tail. During their assignment they were given unrelated male and female Turkish Van kittens who rode around in the car with them as the two women toured Turkey. When Miss Lushington and Miss Halliday cooled off from the summer heat at a pond or stream, they were amazed that the kittens got into the water and paddled around. Miss Lushington and Miss Halliday took the two kittens back to England and began to promote the breed. When Laura Lushington wrote about the incident in 1962, she commented (Cat Breeds of the World by Desmond Morris): “To my astonishment, the Van kittens strolled into the water too and swam out of their depth – apparently thoroughly enjoying themselves. This, I suppose, is the reason they were dubbed ‘Swimming Cat’ by the press on my return to Britain.” This first breeding pair of Turkish Van cats produced kittens that looked exactly like the parents – white with fluffy auburn tails and auburn marks on their heads. It took 14 years (1969) before the GCCF officially recognized the new breed. “The Turkish Van is probably the only breed to owe its development to a Ministry of Culture and Tourism,” stated Pat Turner in her article “The Turkish Van” (Cat World, Vol 181, March 1993).
In the Complete Cat Encyclopedia edited by Grace Pond and published in 1972, Laura Lushington wrote a section on the Turkish Longhair cat. She stated:
“One of the two accepted breeds in Turkey, the Van Cat is now known in Britain as the Turkish Cat. Originating in the Lake Van area of southeastern Turkey, these cats have been domesticated for centuries (in fact for as long as the famous Saluki Hound); they are much loved and prized by the Turks for their exceptional character and unique colouring. Apart from their great capacity for affection and alert intelligence, their outstanding characteristic is their liking for water, not normally regarded as a feline attribute. They not only dabble in water and play with it, but have been known to enter ponds and even horse-troughs for a swim – they soon became famous as the ‘swimming cats.’ I was first given a pair of Van kittens in 1955 while travelling in Turkey, and decided to bring them back to England, although touring by car and mainly camping at the time – the fact that they survived in good condition showed up the great adaptability and intelligence of their breed in trying circumstances. Experience showed that they bred absolutely true. They were not known in Britain at that time and, because they make such intelligent and charming pets, I decided to try to establish the breed, and to have it recognized officially in Britain by the G.C.C.F.”
Will My Turkish Van Swim?
The Turkish Van cat has become famous for its love of water, but will it swim? In Pet Library’s Complete Cat Guide published in England in 1968, Grace Pond discusses the Longhair Turkish cat: “This is not a ‘man-made’ variety, but is one that has been known for years in the Van area, where they have a reputation for swimming in shallow streams and rivers. This fondness for water is looked on as amazing by many people who believe that ‘all cats hate water,’ but this is untrue. My own blue Persians love sitting out in the rain, and playing with running water in the sink. One or two have fallen in a pool in the garden from time to time, and have always managed to swim ashore quite easily.”
For hundreds of years in the Lake Van area of Turkey, the Armenian people would see these native cats swimming in shallow streams and rivers. One can speculate that with years of evolution, these cats learned to swim in order to cool off during the very hot Turkish summers, and to catch herring or other fish for food.
In the United States, most breeders and owners of Turkish Vans do not let their cats outside. Thus, we do not know how inclined the breed is to cool off in summer heat by getting into a swimming pool, pond, lake or stream. Jack Reark (Matabiru) in Florida, once placed a Turkish Van kitten in his lily pond; the cat did not seem upset and just swam out. He took a photo of this kitten among the lily pads, which has been widely published. Three people have phoned me over the past seven years to report that their indoor-outdoor Turkish Van had jumped into their swimming pool to go after a bird or insect that was buzzing around over the pool. The bird or insect flew away and the cat paddled around for a minute or so, and then swam out.
The coat of the Turkish Van will dry out faster than coats of other breeds since there is no undercoat. The coat itself is quite water repellant.
The Turkish Vans are intrigued by dripping water faucets and with the water in their water bowls. They carry toys around in their mouth. After carrying and batting the toys around for 5-20 minutes, they frequently drop the toys into the water bowl. Some of the cats like to stroll into the shower stall with their owner.
Why Do Turkish Vans Have Color on the Head and Tail?
Turkish Vans are not white cats; they are colored cats with very large patches of white. The large patches of white are the dominant color, making the cat appear to be a white cat with color on the head and tail. The piebald gene (also known as the white spotting gene or the piebald white spotting gene) is responsible for the pattern of color, and the Turkish Van standard calls for tail color and colored markings on the head. Spots of color can also be found randomly on the body and legs as small, medium or large spots. The standard states that, “one or more random markings, up to color on 20% of the entire body, are permissible. Random markings should not be of a size or number to detract from the van pattern, making a specimen appear bi-color. A symmetrical pattern of head markings, divided by white up to at least the level of the front edge of the ears, is desirable.” A cat with total absence of color on the head or tail will be disqualified, as will a cat with color in excess of 20% of the entire body. Genetically, one can produce a solid white Turkish Van, but this cat is not acceptable for showing. Breeders strive to produce kittens that have a full colored tail, some colored markings on the head, and few or no body spots. The following colors are listed in the Turkish Van standard: “Solid and White: red, cream, black and blue; Tabby and White: red tabby, cream tabby, brown tabby and blue tabby; Parti-color and White: tortoiseshell, dilute tortoiseshell, brown patched tabby, blue patched tabby; Other Turkish Van Colors: van pattern only – any other color and white with the exception of those showing evidence of hybridization resulting from the Himalayan pattern (point restricted) and colors (chocolate, lilac, etc.).” The coat of the Turkish Van is water-repellant and dirt does not easily cling to the coat. The texture of the coat is unique to the breed as it feels like cashmere or rabbit fur. As the cat ages, its coat becomes more lush. The standard calls for a van pattern only on a glistening chalk-white body.
Are Turkish Vans Deaf if They Have Blue Eyes?
The Turkish Van Standard calls for eye color to be amber, blue or odd-eyed. A high percentage of blue-eyed solid white cats are deaf and their hearing is lost around the fifth day after birth. Inherited deafness resulting from degeneration of the cochlea is well documented in the blue-eyed solid white cat. Turkish Vans are not solid white. Deafness is not associated with the Turkish Van, unless caused by injury or disease.
Are Other Van Cats Related to the Turkish Van?
Spectators at cat shows frequently ask if other van breeds are related to the Turkish Van after seeing signs on cages denoting exhibits of Van Persians, Van Maine Coons and Van Cornish Rex. These are simply Persians, Maine Coons and Cornish Rex exhibiting a pattern that happens to be white with some color on the head and tail, which is known as a “van” pattern of color. A more correct designation to describe these breeds that can come in white with a van pattern, would be Van-Patterned Persian, Van-Patterned Maine Coon and Van-Patterned Cornish Rex. However, the terminology is not likely to change since it came about before Turkish Vans were accepted for showing in CFA.
In addition to the three breeds mentioned above, other breeds that can come in white with a “van” pattern include: American Curl, American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Devon Rex, Exotic, Norwegian Forest Cat, Oriental and Selkirk Rex. The CFA Show Standards for all these breeds, other than Turkish Van, allow for only one or two small body spots. Judges see more Van Persians and Van Cornish Rex in the judging ring than they see Turkish Vans. Occasionally, the Turkish Van breeders and exhibitors have to remind a judge NOT to DISQUALIFY or PENALIZE a Turkish Van with more than two body spots. As stated earlier, the Turkish Van standard does allow for one or more random markings.
The use of the word “van” to describe a white cat with color on the extremities is discussed in the 1978 CFA Yearbook. In an article entitled “A Cinderella Story – History of Bicolor & Calico Persians,” Bobara Pendergrast describes the white spotting gene and eight degrees of expression. “No. 8 is a perfectly marked Van. The color is confined to the extremities; head, tail, and some leg spots.” She notes that during the 1970’s, cats with a perfect van marking (Degree Number 8) were called “Harlequins” which were shown in the AOV class until their acceptance in October 1977 at the New Jersey board meeting. Prior to their acceptance, there was some opposition to the name “Harlequin,” mainly because some felt it denoted a spotted animal such as the harlequin Great Dane. Dick Gebhardt suggested the name “van” in relation to the pattern of the Turkish Van: “Although it will be hard for some of us to get in the habit of calling the cats ‘Vans’ instead of ‘Harlequins,’ it was well worth the change to have these outstanding colors recognized for championship competition.” This was the birth of the terminology “Van Persian”– white with color on the head and tail, like the pattern of a Turkish Van cat. Since that date, the cat fancy picked up the term “van” and applied it to purebred, pedigreed and mixed breed longhair and shorthair cats that are white with color on the extremities.
Pendergrast’s article contains a diagram of each of the eight degrees of white spotting. The diagram was “devised to help the breeder produce better marked bi-colors and calicos; patterns that will come as close as possible to our standard.” Degree Number 1 is the lowest degree of white spotting and produces a cat of almost solid color. Pendergrast states that a Degree Number 1 cat carries “very little white on the top side and not much more on the underside. The face will usually have only a white splash.”
Roy Robinson and Pat Turner define 10 degrees (grades) of white spotting with Degree Number 1 being a solid color cat with no white at all. At the other end of the spectrum, Degree Number 10 is the highest expression of white spotting, creating a solid white cat. Degree Numbers 8 and 9 are the perfectly marked Van.
In the book Genetics for Cat Breeders (3rd ed, 1991), Roy Robinson states that the genetics of white spotting are not exactly known. Robinson’s discussion of piebald spotting includes a diagram of the 10 grades of piebald white spotting (123). Robinson also wrote about piebald genetics in the British magazine Cats (Number 267) and stated that Grades 2 to 9 show increasing amounts of white with, 2 having very little and 9 having white everywhere other than on the face, skull and tail.
In her article in the British magazine Cats, Pat Turner gave names to the grades of white spotting in between Grade 1 and Grade 10. They are as follows: Grade 2-White Trim; Grade 3-Mitted; Grade 4-Irish; Grade 5-Saddle; Grade 6-Pied; Grade 7-Chinese; Grade 8-Harlequin; Grade 9-Van. The ideal van pattern in the Turkish Van has Grade 8-9 of white spotting with a full colored tail. “A symmetrical pattern of head markings, divided by white up to at least the level of the front edge of the ears, is desirable. One or more random markings, up to color on 20% of the entire body, are permissible.”
The Turkish Van in Turkey
There is some confusion in the world over what is a true Van Cat that originated in Turkey. Many Turkish people consider a Van (pronounced “von”) cat to be a solid white cat with odd-eyes. I have had Turkish people come up to my exhibits at cat shows and demand that I remove the sign designating my cats as Turkish Vans. The first time that this happened I was quite startled and had a hard time handling the situation. I learned to reply to Turkish people that in their country, they define a Turkish Van differently than the rest of the world. I let them know that I am aware that the cat in Turkey is called a “Van Kedi” (“kedi” is the Turkish word for “cat”) more often than it is termed a Turkish Van cat, and that it is a large, solid white, muscular cat with odd-eyes. I also tell them that the Turkish Van cat outside of Turkey is described as a large, muscular, longhair cat with odd-eyes, blue eyes or amber eyes, and that this cat is white with color on the head and tail, and that sometimes random body spots are present.
When Turkish people phone me wanting to purchase a Van cat, I ask them to describe the coloring of the cat. Invariably, they state that it is a solid white cat with odd eyes and as a result, they usually do not pursue purchase of one of my cats. I refer them to Turkish Angora breeders and I point out that the body type of a Turkish Angora is quite different from the Turkish Van.
In the January 1988 issue of Cat World, Bea and Leen Kort (breeders of Turkish Vans in The Netherlands) talk about the May 1987 trip they took to Lake Van in search of Van Cats – white, longhair, with color on the head and tail. Bea and Leen became aware that to the Turkish people, a Van cat is a white cat with two different eyes, one blue and one yellow. They noted that the tourist information kits for Eastern Turkey include references to the cats of Van, and that on every street corner, one could buy postcards with the famous solid white, odd-eyed Van Cat’s likeness. In the Lake Van area, the Korts found mainly solid white cats, both shorthair and longhair. They were thrilled when they finally did discover one white longhair female with black Van markings. The Korts were given this female cat and one of her male kittens (“more black than white”) after trying unsuccessfully to purchase the black van female. The Korts imported both cats into The Netherlands.
Desmond Morris reports in his book Cat Breeds of the World (1996, 1999) that in 1991, Roger Tabor visited Lake Van for filming of his 1991 television series, “The Rise of the Cat.” In discussions with the local people, Tabor also found out that they considered a true Van Cat to be an all white animal, without any darker markings on the head or tail. The native people considered the cats with auburn markings to be inferior to the all white cats. They also think the ideal Van Cat has odd eyes – one blue and one amber eye.
The Turkish Van in the United States
Turkish Vans were imported into the United States in the early 1970’s, and some were brought in from Turkey by servicemen who had been stationed there. In 1983, Barbara and Jack Reark (Matabiru Cattery) of South Miami, Florida imported a pair of Vans from France, and then three more from the Netherlands. The Rearks began to actively promote the Turkish Van (white with color on the extremities) to encourage others to work with the breed. The Rearks are credited with getting people interested in showing and breeding the cats in this country. Barbara retired from breeding and showing a few years ago, and Jack is deceased. Barbara still enjoys giving advice and Turkish Van anecdotes and history to those who seek knowledge from her.
Dei von Saxe-Coburg (Stellamaris Cattery) became interested in the breed in the mid-1980’s, and later wrote the CFA Turkish Van Breed Standard and the text for the CFA Breed Profile. She actively promoted Turkish Vans by exhibiting some of her cats in the Miscellaneous Division of CFA in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dei leased a female, Stellamaris Sultanesse to Pete Moon (Little Moon) in 1991; Pete’s one and only litter produced CFA’s first Turkish Van Grand, GP Little Moon ZZ Top, a black and white neuter.
In 1992, Dei decided to stop breeding cats. Mark Williams and Mike Tobin (Talorien Cattery) felt that it would be a terrible loss to the Turkish Van breed if Dei’s breeding cats got petted out, so they took some of her cats. They had three litters using the tortie and white female, Goblen Sonbahar of Talorien (now CH Goblen Sonbahar of Desert Jewel, DM), a cat of unknown parentage that Dei had imported, and male Cerissa Vancho Villa of Talorien, a black and white male bred by Cheri Wilkerson. After a few years, Mike and Mark stopped breeding Turkish Vans. The imported female cat, Goblen Sonbahar, went to Linda Gorsuch (Desert Jewel). Diane Marcus (Invanity) purchased Talorien’s Vantastic Voyager as her foundation female Turkish Van cat. In March 2000, CH Talorien’s Vantastic Voyager, DM became the third Turkish Van DM, and this event triggered the DM title for her dam, CH Goblen Sonbahar of Desert Jewel, DM. There have been seven show seasons for Turkish Vans; CH Goblen Sonbahar of Desert Jewel, DM is behind all seven of those Best of Breed Turkish Vans.
Karen Hooker and Deborah Hayes (Pairodocs) started working with Turkish Vans in 1988. They were very interested in advancing the breed to Championship status and worked hard to get this accomplished. Deborah was the driving force that galvanized the troops to do the necessary number of presentations in the Provisional Class so that the breed could be advanced to Championship status. CH Santir Candy Kiss of Pairodocs, DM, a tortie and white female bred by Beth Holden, is one of the foundation cats at Pairodocs. Candy became CFA’s first Turkish Van DM in February 1999. She is the dam of GC Pairodocs Harlequin Dancer, a tortie and white female who was the first Turkish Van to grand in championship, and the 3rd Turkish Van grand. This cat is behind many of the cats that have granded and been shown since the 1994-1995 show season.
In 1994, Leslie Simons and Mike Thorsteinson (Wishnwhisker) became interested in Turkish Vans after owning and loving a “Van-alike.” They got started with Summitspring Ani of Wishnwhisker, a red and white female bred by Doug Williams (now deceased) and Carol Simpson. They leased males from Mike Meinecke (Vansalot) in Tacoma, Washington in order to produce their first four or five litters. Their cat, GP, RW Wishnwhisker Sir Spoticus, was the first Turkish Van Regional Winner (Northwest Region, 1997).
In 1992, Debra Rexelle (Ashmanor) had become interested in Turkish Vans and obtained some cats from Lori and Mike Meinecke. One of these, GC, BW Ashmanor Duracell, was Best of Breed in 1999.
Since Turkish Vans were recognized for Championship status in May 1994, interest in the breed has slowly grown. Most of those who worked with the breed prior to 1994 have retired. The established catteries, Pairodocs (1988), Wishnwhisker (1994), Desert Jewel (1994 with Turkish Vans) and Invanity (1994), continue to produce grand premiers, grand champions, regional winners and DMs. CFA’s second, fifth and sixth Turkish Van female DMs were bred by Diane Marcus (Invanity): GC Invanity’s Vanessa Redgrave, DM; CH Invanity Savana B. of Caravanserai, DM (Owner: Pat and John Chapman and Diane Marcus); and CH Invanity’s Savantha, DM (Owner: Pat and Brenda Heinig and Diane Marcus). In March 2002, GC Pekivanokie’s Katvandu of Invanity, DM (Breeder: Claudia Burnett; Owner: Diane Marcus) became CFA’s first Turkish Van male DM and the seventh Turkish Van DM.
Since 1996, the following people in the United States have started to work with and breed Turkish Vans and show them in CFA: Nancy and Alan Dukes (Dyma Fi) in 1997, Pat and John Chapman (Caravanserai) in 1997, Windy Johnston (Vansylvania) in 1997, Beth and George Lewis (Abykatzen) in 1998, Linda Scott and Teri Davis (Leafchaser) in 1998, Mark Garfinkel and daughters Charlotte and Monica Garfinkel (Catvancy) in 1998, Erika Fetz (Vankkadia) in 1998, Tracy Alexander (Alacatzam) and her son Jimmy Alcorn (Vandazed) in 1999 and Deidre Stalhut (Softspirits in 1999). There are about 20 other people who are not interested in breeding and who have proudly shown their Turkish Vans in premiership since 1994. The breeders are very appreciative of these people who have helped to promote Turkish Vans. Those of us who breed and show Turkish Vans, and those of us who show but do not breed Turkish Vans, look forward to continuing success and recognition of Turkish Vans in the show ring. We think that the Turkish Van is a very special, interesting, delightful, healthy, intelligent and beautiful cat that makes a wonderful addition to any home.
Success in the Show Ring
Turkish Vans were accepted for showing in the Miscellaneous class in May 1988 for the 1988-1989 show season. The breed was advanced to Provisional status in May 1993 for the 1993-1994 show season. At the February 1994 board meeting, the Turkish Van breed was advanced to full Championship status for the 1994-1995 show season.
There are relatively few Turkish Van breeders and exhibitors. This group of dedicated Turkish Van aficionados has worked very hard to present Turkish Vans that can be handled and admired. It is recommended that one start showing a Turkish Van in the Kitten Class at four months of age and every few weeks afterwards, as this experience helps the cat to learn that nothing bad is going to happen. During the first three show season years, it was very difficult to gain recognition and finals in the show ring. Judges had to become acquainted with the Turkish Van and how to handle it. Turkish Vans are very strong and aware of any changes, noises, other cats and people in the show ring. In the past three years, judges have become very familiar with the Turkish Vans and they do a great job of handling them. The Turkish Van is seeing a lot of success in the show ring. More than a few times between 1994 and 1998, a Turkish Van got loose from the judging ring or benching cage, and was seen galloping around the show hall. A romp around the show hall has never caused one of my cats to become “unshowable.” In October 1997 at the Indy Cat Show, my cat’s double cage fell off the table after show management accidentally dropped a bolt of plastic tarp on top of his cage. This seven month old cat ran wildly through the show hall, finally seeking refuge inside a Pepsi machine on the back wall. Four hours later, the vending machine company arrived and opened the door of the machine. The cat was cowering in the bottom of the Pepsi machine door beneath the fluorescent light sticks. A few weeks later, “Pepsi Boy” was back in the show ring.
To date, there are 91 Turkish Van grands: 36 grand champions and 55 grand premiers. There are 27 male and 9 female grand champions. There are 39 male and 16 female grand premiers.
In the first show season that the breed was recognized for Championship status (1994-1995), four cats attained the grand title. GP Little Moon ZZ Top, a black and white neutered male was the first Turkish Van to grand; he granded in premiership on October 22, 1994 in Region 2 to the delight of his breeder and owner, Pete Moon. In the Northwest Region, “ZZ Top” has been shown several times a year since 1994 and has quite a following. Most recently, ten-year-old “ZZ Top” competed in a special senior division ring at a cat show in Portland, Oregon, where the cats had to be at least seven years old. Pete Moon had become interested in the breed in 1988 when he realized that his beloved black and white neutered male mixed breed cat, “Little Mo,” looked somewhat like a Turkish Van. “Van-alike” “Little Mo” had a lot of success in the Household Pet Division. Knowing that Turkish Vans would one day achieve Championship status, Pete decided to try breeding. Pete leased a female Turkish Van and went out for stud service and his first and only “Little Moon” litter, including “ZZ Top,” was born on January 25, 1992. Pete decided that breeding was not for him, but he takes great pride in promoting the Turkish Vans.
GP Threesacrowd Jazz of Lotsaluvan, a red tabby and white spay, born on May 31, 1989, was the second Turkish Van to grand; she granded in premiership on October 29, 1994, one week after GP Little Moon ZZ Top. Breeder Teri Cutrera and owner Ann R. Van Brunt were very thrilled with this accomplishment in the days when many judges had never seen a Turkish Van in the show ring.
GC Pairodocs Harlequin Dancer, a tortie and white female born on May 14, 1991, was the first Turkish Van to grand in championship. This cat was almost four years old when she granded on April 1, 1995 at a show in the Chicago area. This event was a very special one for breeders and owners Deborah C. Hayes and Karen L. Hooker, since Deborah had taken the lead role in obtaining the advancement from Provisional to Championship, after only one year in the Provisional Class.
GC, BW Desert Jewel Red October, a red and white male Turkish Van born on May 14, 1994 was the second Turkish Van to grand in Championship on April 8, 1995. Breeders Linda Gorsuch, Mark Williams, and Michael Tobin, and owner Linda Gorsuch, were very pleased to have achieved this championship granding in three months time, and the cat ended up becoming Best of Breed for the 1994-1995 show season.
In the 1995-1996 show season, six Turkish Vans obtained the grand title but in the 1996-1997 show season, only two Turkish Vans obtained the grand title, both in championship.
In the 1997-1998 show season, eight Turkish Vans obtained the grand title. Four cats granded in championship and four in premiership. In the show season 1998-1999, there were 19 grands with six in championship and 13 in premiership. Seventeen cats granded in 1999-2000, with five in championship and 12 in premiership. Nineteen cats granded in 2000-2001; there were 7 grand champions and 12 grand premiers. Through mid-March in show season 2001-2002, 16 cats have granded; there are 8 grand champions and 8 grand premiers. It has been difficult to grand a cat in championship. Since the breed takes three to five years to mature, the young adults do not yet look like a mature specimen. The breed standard is written for a mature male.
Perhaps the first one-show Turkish Van grand in championship and in premiership, as well as the first National Winner in championship and premiership, are just around the corner.