Turkish Angora cats are members of one of the oldest cat breeds. They are called Ankara Kedisi in Turkish, and sometimes called as Ankara cat in English.
For centuries this cat breed developed in the seclusion of the mountainous Turkish Ankara area. The climate was such that it encouraged the breed to develop its coat into what was considered its main characteristic: a long a silky, beautiful coat to warm against the harsh winters. (The Turkish Angora cat is by no means the only animal in the area to have such a lovely coat in the Ankara area). This silky shimmering coat moves beautifully over its lean, muscular body. And the tail.. Ah, the tail… A beautiful plume of long silky hairs, carried proudly like a flag.
If this cat isn’t the very essence of elegance, nothing is.
Many wonder about the ancestry of the Turkish Angora cats. Different theories have been presented. One theory says it is a descendant of the long-haired Asian wild cat, the Pallas cat. The problem is that the Pallas cat breed is virtually untamable, and rather aggressive, and compared to the sweet and social nature of the Turkish Angora cats this just feels illogical.
Another theory tells that it is the Manul cat (Felis manul) that was the ancestor of the Turkish Angora cats. This small cat was tamed by the Tatars originally.
And as ancient Egypt always fascinates people, it has been speculated that the traders originally brought cats (descendants of the African wildcat) with them from Egypt. And out of them the Turkish Angora cat developed through natural selection and inbreeding in those closed mountainous areas. The long hair of the Turkish Angora cats is a recessive trait, but the seclusion effectively stopped outcrossing with foreign cats and so the beautiful long silky coat of the breed could develop through times.
One of the earliest legends of the Angora may date this beautiful cat breed as far back as 1400 years – it tells that Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic faith, had a beloved odd-eyed Angora cat, Muezza. According to the story the cat was once sound asleep in his lap, and when he had to leave he did not have the heart to disturb the sleeping Muezza and instead cut his sleeve off to the cat continue its sleep uninterrupted.
It may be possible that already the crusaders brought these long-haired cats with them to Europe when they returned home. For certain the Turkish Angora cats are mentioned and brought to Europe by travelers in the fifteenth century. It was bred in France and England and was quite popular during the Renaissance.
In the sixteenth century a French scholar, Fabri de Peiresc, brought several pure white cats with him when he returned from Ankara (Ancyre). He started breeding the cats and the beautiful kittens were given as presents to the royalty and nobility. One of the first ones was given to Cardinal de Richelieu.
Among other, this elegant, royal cat was the companion of Louis XV of France and Marie Antoinette. There is a story that Marie Antoinette loved her Turkish Angoras so much that she sent them to safety from the French revolution by a ship to America – the very same ship which was intended for her own escape…
It was the favorite cat of the well-to-do and appreciated for its beauty, but then came the Persian. People were not so strict about the breeding of cats and started to use the Angora to make the hair of the “doll-faced” Persian cat longer and silkier. Long-hair cats were all called “angora” or “longhairs”. And so, through this breeding, the rounder Persian became standard of a long-haired cat and the slim Angora virtually disappeared from Europe.
Thank goodness there were Turkish Angora cats left in Turkey. The Turkish government became worried about the breed and began a systematic breeding program of Turkish Angoras in 1917 at the Ankara Zoo. They essentially wanted to preserve what we today call the traditional Angora – a pure white cat with blue or odd eyes. And the breeding program still continues.
The odd-eyed Angoras were especially praised, because they were thought to be touched by Allah (and Mohammed’s Muezza was believed to be odd-eyed too). One of the reasons for the Turkish people to consider this cat as their national treasure, is the story that Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, predicted than an odd-eyed Angora would bit the ankle of his successor. Another version of this story tells that Ataturk would be re-born as a white, odd-eyed Turkish Angora. (Talk about a cat with some legends attached to it!)
The Turkish were not willing to give out their lovely cats – the white Turkish Angoras are still prized as rarities in Turkey. But finally, in the 1960´s breeding cats were finally taken to USA, Scandinavia and Britain.
And aren’t we glad the Turkish finally allowed the rest of the world to meet this lovely cat… It is such a special breed.
First of all the Turkish Angora cats are lively. If you are interested in quiet cats, then consider other breeds.
The Angora is an active, high-energy cat. Actually it has so much energy, it would be a good idea to get your Angora a cat-friend. I remember a story I once heard of a person who considered the Angora a horrible cat breed. Her friend owned an Angora and she went to visit her, much to the interest of the Turkish Angora cat of the family. “It attacked my feet from behind corners and there was no escaping it”. It turned out the Angora in question did not have a cat friend – and not that many toys either. And so it considered the toes of the poor visitor as a row of toys to be played with.
The angora is a very affectionate and curious cat, and friendly to people. They love their humans and bond with them totally – expecting the same in return. They tend to have one favorite human, but they love everyone in their family. Wherever you are, they are. Their behavior can be almost dog-like when they follow you around where ever you go. It is said the males bond a bit stronger than the females, but anyone with a lovely female Turkish Angora is probably of the opposite opinion.
Still the Turkish Angora cats are not lap-cats. They will wiggle out of your arms when they consider they have tolerated being held long enough (or should I say: short enough). But there are times when they love to be cuddled. Otherwise they show their affection by being right by your side. All the time.
They enjoy seeing visitors as well (Yay! Friends to play with!) and can be the first one greeting them when they arrive. After that they are known to have kept good (active) company to the visitors in question until it is time for them to leave – and like a good host escort them to the door and almost wave goodbye... And while they are at it, they charm everyone. They move so elegantly – gliding through a room with the grace of a ballerina, holding their beautiful plume of a tail in the air, silky hair moving softly over their slim bodies and long legs. They love to be admired, which makes them good show cats (unless they happen to have one of those more stubborn days).
This is one chatty cat. An Angora absolutely loves a good, long conversation and definitely talks with you, explaining important things to you in their cat language. (And they expect you to understand it all). Their voices are rather traditional (meaning not high-pitched as one might expect, looking at their slender form that resembles oriental cats).
The Angora are strong-willed cats, and independent spirits, make no mistake about that. If they want your attention, give it to them because you will do so eventually in any case. If you try to do something else instead, you’ll lose the battle of the wills. If you try to shoo them off while working on your computer, you’ll find out it is a bit hard to write with a cat lying on the keyboard. If you manage to prevent that, you may find a paw chasing the cursor on your screen. If they want to play – you play. They are very good at training their owners to play with them.
And they really love to play. They are constantly on the move and have some mischievous plan in their minds for sure. They have a good sense of humor, so be prepared to be the target of that humor. They love to bounce on things, so if you don’t want yours or your visitor’s toes to be the object of their (rather sharp) attention, keep toys at hand. Plenty of toys. But it is this very playfulness that makes them very good companion to children – and why not to elderly people as well. They are never boring and can amuse their owners endlessly.
They get along famously with other pets – just as long as it is made clear they are the boss. They want to be the alpha-pet. The Top Cat.
The Turkish Angora cats are very intelligent and quick-witted. They learn by observing, so if you see that interested look in their eyes (which is always) while they are looking at something you want to keep safe, just be sure all the doors are locked, and things the cat should not play with, are behind those doors. They are very agile, curious to the extent to put old-time explorers to shame – and they are playful. Quite a combination to a cat breed which considers the whole house as their private amusement park. If nothing happens, the Angora makes things happen.
They love to be high – literally. Tops of cupboards, shelves, doors… This trait does not diminish with age. If we were Angoras, we’d be dangling from chandeliers in old folks’ homes.
Just to show you I am not kidding you, thhis picture of Susan de Kock's white Turkish Angora Rolf tells it all... Susan told me she eventually had to take off the chandelier in question because Rolf considered the it to be his perching post. Well, understandable from a cat's point of view - what better place to see everything and everyone than a chandelier? Especially when it is all too easy for this acrobat cat breed to reach it?
Here is another example of a cat Tarzan: a Turkish Angora wondering how it could get even higher ("Grow, tree, grow!"). Photo courtesy by the Mithrandir cattery (Actually "Chandelier Rolf" is bred by the Mithrandir cattery also - I have a feeling they spend a lot of time picking down Turkish Angora cats from where they should not be...)
Because of their wish to climb high mishaps may happen. Best be prepared for those in advance, for example with Feline First Aid Kit - Cat.
Among other things you might want to keep the bathroom door closed when you are taking a bath. This breed is known to love water and they just might take a dip in the bath tub while you are relaxing there.
Like other white and blue-eyed cats, the traditional Angora with this coloring can be deaf – it is a genetic thing in all cats. Or if it is odd-eyed, the ear on the side of the blue eye may be deaf. This is not always the case, though. but if this is so, they adapt well to their condition and live full and happy lives (especially when they are indoor cats). Just find other ways to get their attention than by calling them by name. (You don’t have to work hard on this, though, as they probably are already right next to you, supervising whatever it is you are doing).
The Turkish Angora tends to live a long life – even over 15 years. So you are in for a rather long and active period of your life if you choose to have an Angora in your life.
Do you have a energetic, lovable, beautiful Angora? Tell us all about it here!
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Photograph copyright of white Angora looking over its shoulder: GlopalP / Istockphoto. Do not copy.
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This is a gouache painting of a beautiful Turkish Angora Grace. If you wish to see photos of the painting progress, CLICK ON THE PICTURE. You can also read how Grace and her human Anke together fought for Grace's life.
Photograph copyright Zinatova / IstockPhoto. Do not copy.