Monday, October 31, 2016

Cat Breeds: Turkish Van

As breeds go, the Turkish Van is one of the oldest. It's also one of the least well known, though almost every feline registry in the world acknowledges this cat as a distinct and separate breed. The ancestors of the modern Turkish Van have been roaming the mountainous areas of the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey since at least the Middle Ages. They've probably been there much longer than that, but there is no real evidence one way or another.

Despite its ancient origins, the Turkish Van was only discovered in the 1950s. Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were travelling in Turkey when they spotted white cats with auburn markings covering their heads and tails. Intrigued, these ladies were able to acquire two of the kittens. The kittens travelled with the women until they returned to England. During these travels, the women noticed that the kittens, unlike other cats they had encountered, truly loved the water. They'd splash in fountains, run through puddles, and generally get into any water they could find.  Because these kittens were unique in their look and attitude, Lushington and Halliday decided to start a breeding program in England.

But the Turkish Van is rare, even in Turkey, so there weren't many cats available to export to other nations. It took a concentrated effort, one involving breeders from all over the world, to preserve and promote this breed. Breeders were rewarded for their years or dedication with recognition by TICA in 1979. Other registries soon followed once it became clear that this breed was happy and healthy and very different from other breeds out there. Even his attitude was different. This guy might be rare, but he's a joy to behold.

The Appearance of the Turkish Van

Large and powerful, the Turkish Van can weigh up to 20 pounds, though 15 is a more common weight. Regardless of size, all of these cats have a van pattern coat, which means white and colored patches, with the colored patches being restricted to the head and tail. The white should be a pure white, not at all yellowed. There is the occasional Turkish Van that is pure white, with no markings of any kind, but these are rare and usually referred to as the Van Kedi. They are also not preferred in competition, though they are just as sweet as their van patterned counterparts.  Eye color can vary, but most Turkish Vans have blue, gold, or odd-eyes.

The traditional color of the Turkish Van is a deep auburn, but most solid colors are allowed by most registries. Auburn is still the preferred color, however, so if you're looking for a show cat, you might want to look at auburn kittens. No matter what color your kitten is, this rare breed has silky fur that grows softer as he ages. Fur should be longer in the winter, long enough for the cat to have a generous tail plume, but sheds out much shorter in the summer. Grooming isn't necessarily an issue, but you should brush him out once a week and bathe him once in a while. He likes these things, so grooming and bathing is not difficult.

The Personality of the Turkish Van

Affectionate and loyal, this robust breed loves to play. He'll engage in a fun round of fetch, chase the kids as they squeal in delight, and even pester the dog into a rousing game of tag. Though he loves to cuddle, he's not overbearing at all. His great intelligence and love of people make him a great companion for just about any household.

Unlike most cats, the Turkish Van loves water. Whether it's a dripping faucet or a sprinkler in the backyard, expect your kitty to be fascinated. A happy Turkish Van is one who has room to run and splash, so consider adding a water feature to your yard so he can have some fun. Even an indoor fountain will make him happy, though he might make a mess with all his splashing. He might even swim in a pool--even if you don't want him too!

If you're looking for a fun and engaging companion who likes to hang out at the poolside, the Turkish Van might be for you.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cat Breeds: Turkish Angora

Through Turkish Angora is one of the most recognizable cat breeds out there today, but it hasn't always been this way. The earliest reference to these majestic cats can be found as far back as 16th century France, but they probably existed before that. Mention is made of the Angora in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, but then Persian breeders folded the Angora into its own breeding programs, meaning the Turkish Angora basically disappeared as a separate breed. For a long while very few people in the world of cat fancy even knew what a Turkish Angora was.

But in Turkey, that was not the case at all. Even while the rest of the world was ignoring or dismissing the Angora, Turkey considered the breed a national treasure and even established a breeding program for these cats at the Ankara Zoo. Though all colors were welcome, this program focused on white cats with blue eyes, gold eyes, or odd eyes. Records were meticulously kept and genetics were carefully observed and recorded. This program is the only reason the Turkish Angora exists today.

The zoo didn't allow the cats to be exported, however, causing a bit of a wrinkle for the breed. But then, in the 1950s, American servicemen stationed in the area started to write home about the breed, sometimes even including pictures. Interest was aroused, and in 1962 the Ankara Zoo felt pressured into sending a breeding pair of cats to the United States with Colonel and Mrs. Walter Grant. These would be the foundation of the breed in North America, but they were hardly the last cats to be brought over from the Ankara Zoo.

Another pair was brought to the United States in 1964, and a few others here and there, until finally there were enough Turkish Angora cats in the United States for breeders to stop worrying about importing cats from overseas. Finally, after years of work and discouragement, the Turkish Angora was firmly established in North America.

The Appearance of the Turkish Angora

Often called the ballerina of cats, the Turkish Angora has long legs and a fine bone structure. Thought graceful, he is also powerful and muscular, not at all thin or bony. The head is an elegant wedge, the ears and eyes rather large, giving the breed a majestic appearance.

The coat is soft and silky and varies in length according to the season. In winter, the hair is long and the tail has a full plume. In summer, the hair is shorter, leaving only slight britches and a fluffy tail to remind you of his winter glory. Any color is acceptable, but white is the most common and the most desirable. This breed also comes in most patterns, including tabby, smoke, parti-color, and solid, obviously.

Many white cats will have odd eyes, where one eye is blue and the other is amber or green. This is allowed, but only if the cat is white. White cats may also have blue eyes, green eyes, or amber eyes. Other Turkish Angoras should have amber eyes.

With semi-long hair you might expect the Turkish Angora to mat and tangle easily, but the silky texture and uniform growth limit the grooming needs of this cat. He should be brushed once a week to remove loose hair, but he won't generally mat and he always looks his best.

The Personality of the Turkish Angora

You would be hard pressed to find a breed more elegant and graceful than the Turkish Angora. He moves with the grace and power of a trained dancer, often doing so just to entertain you. He love to play and race around, chasing toys and leaping about until you are laughing at his antics.

The Turkish Angora loves people of all ages. Old, young, it doesn't matter. People are great and a constant source of love and affection according to this energetic breed. He can tolerate other pets, but only if he gets to take precedence over them. He needs to be able to command your affection before the dog does or he'll become one irate kitty.

If you're looking for a majestic bundle of energy who will crawl all over you day and night, the Turkish Angora might be the cat for you.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cat Breeds: Toyger

Some breeds come about simply as an experimental accident. Such is the case with the Toyger. In the late 1980s a tabby breeder named Judy Sugden was busy using selective breeding to improve the distinct markings of her mackerel tabby cats. During this process, she took note of one of her cats. He was unusual in that he had two spots of tabby markings on his temple. Sugden realized that she might be able to use this cat to develop a breed that resembled a wild tiger, but only if she crossed him with a big-boned Bengal. It certainly had possibilities. And so her experiment began.

She was joined in her efforts by Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee. Together they established a proper breeding program for their fledgling breed, and in 1993 TICA accepted the Toyger as a Preliminary New Breed. In 2000 it was advanced to New Breed Status, but it wasn't until 2007 that the Toyger was finally granted Championship Status. Today it is considered a rare breed and is one of the more expensive breeds in the market.

The Appearance of the Toyger

This energetic little guy really does look like a miniature tiger, only not quite so orange. His body is long and powerful, his shoulders high, his bones thick and heavy. Weighing no more than 15 pounds, the Toyger really is grace in motion.

Colors for the Toyger do range a bit. The base color can be a striking orange, but may also have a more yellowed appearance. The stripes must stand out, but that's not all that's distinctive about the coat. If you look closely, you'll see what looks like gold glitter scattered across the fur. This isn't a camera trick, and it isn't unique to one cat. Toygers really do look like they've been sprinkled with glitter.

When Sugden was creating her new breed, she had something specific in mind. She wanted tiger markings that were distinctly not tabby, and the pattern had to be vivid against the base color. She even decided the cats must have circular head markings. Because she was so specific, and only used cats that would give her the markings she desired, she managed to get exactly what she was after in a relatively short amount of time. Her experiment was more than successful.

The Personality of the Toyger

Sugden did more than breed for coat color. She wanted her tiny tigers to be sweet and affectionate, and this she accomplished. The typical Toyger is intelligent and good natured. He'll play a game of fetch, or nap on your lap, or even romp with the kids. He's adaptable, so kids and other pets are not a problem. He does fairly well on his own, but he loves his family and wants to be the center of attention.

If you're looking for a cat who is a natural acrobat, a sweetheart, and resembles a toy tiger, the Toyger might be for you.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cat Breeds: Tonkinese

The Tonkinese is the perfect example of a hybrid progressing through the ranks to become a truly recognized breed in its own right. The 1960s saw the Canadian cat fancier Margaret Conroy and her beloved Siamese and Burmese cats take center stage. Conroy loved both breeds, and so set out to create a hybrid that embodied her favorite qualities of each breed. Choosing her breeding cats carefully, she crossed a seal point Siamese with a sable Burmese. At first she called her kittens Golden Siamese, but later adopted the name Tonkinese, as suggested by other cat fanciers who wanted to avoid the notion that the Tonkinese was just another hybrid.

With the aid of other breeders, Conroy wrote a moderate and reasonable standard for her new cats and presented it to the Canadian Cat Association. This standard described a cat that was neither slinky nor stocky. Instead her cat was the perfect blend of Siamese and Burmese body type. Her standards were accepted and in 1965 the Canadian Cat Association gave the Tonkinese Championship Status. The Independent Cat Association (which no longer exists) followed suit in 1972. It wasn't long before all other American registries did the same. Today the breed is recognized by just about every registry in the world.

The Appearance of the Tonkinese

The stunning Tonkinese is the perfect blend of its parent breeds. It is neither sleek nor cobby, but something in between. Weighing in at no more than 12 pounds, this cat is medium in size with a rounded and muscular body. The head is a gentle wedge and the ears are only slightly larger than your average domestic cat. The muzzle should be blunt and fairly short.

The eyes of the Tonkinese are like little almonds in shape, but not in color. The most common eye color is a stunning turquoise or aqua, though blue and even green are also allowed. Regardless of color, the eyes should be bright and alert.

As for coat color...well, there's a little more variety. And a little more controversy. Tonkinese are available in many colors and patterns. There are pointed, solid, and mink cats, and all these patterns can be found in blue, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, lilac, seal, and even red with tortoiseshell counterparts. Unfortunately for breeders and enthusiasts, not all registries accept all colors and patterns. So while your blue mink Tonkinese may be shown with one registry, it's considered ineligible for competition by another. If you're interested in showing your cat, consult with the registry you're interested in before you purchase your Tonkinese to make sure you're getting a kitten who will be eligible for competition.

The coat must of necessity be short and should lie flat against the body. Its silky texture is a breeze to groom, with no more than a quick weekly brushing necessary to keep your kitty looking and feeling his best.

The Personality of the Tonkinese

This cuddly breed demands to be next to you, under your feet, or in your lap. Your feline friend will want to be in the middle of everything and he'll talk to you frequently, fully expecting you to engage him in conversation. Despite this tendency to talk, he's not as vocal as his Siamese cousins. Still, he's louder than your average cat, so be prepared for chirps and meows at all hours because he doesn't know how to tell time and doesn't care that it's well after midnight.

A lover of games of all kinds, he'll play fetch for hours on end, then turn around and race around your house like a mad kitty while he waits for the next game to start. Because he's always on the lookout for new playmates, he gets along well with children and other pets as long as they'll play with him. He loves to play chase, so dogs are a favorite companion for this social breed.

If you're looking for an intelligent cat who will charm your guests and love you forever, the Tonkinese might be the cat for you.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Thai

Though registered as the Thai with TICA and some select registries in Europe, it's actually known as the Wichienmaat or Old-Style Siamese in Thailand. This adorable cat originates in the Thai kingdom of Ayudhai, and it is still occasionally bred in Thailand today. Elsewhere, however, the Thai is virtually unknown. TICA recognized this cat as a Preliminary New Breed in 2007, and an Advanced New Breed in 2009, but still most people haven't heard of this little guy.

Medium in size and possessing rather short hair, the Thai has a softer appearance than its more popular cousin, the Siamese. The forehead is long and flat, the face sweet and round, and the eyes large and always blue. The hair is short, but very soft, and grooming is easy enough. Only a single brushing a week is required, and this takes only a few minutes.

Though white markings of any kind are not permitted on the Thai, the points may be of any other color. There are Thai cats with tabby, tortoiseshell, or solid point, as long as there is no white present. The body is typically cream, though yellow tones are permitted.

Like many breeds, the Thai is quite intelligent and loves people. And while they may be low maintenance when it comes to grooming, they're truly high maintenance when it comes to affection. This talkative creature will demand any and all attention from anyone in the house. He doesn't really care where he gets his love as long as he gets it. So be prepared to spend a lot of time cuddling.

If you're looking for something a little softer than the Siamese, but still just as charming, you might be looking for the Thai. If you can stand being nuzzled day and night.