Turkish Angora: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A Turkish Angora cat sitting on a blanket

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Known for their long, delicate, ballerina-like bodies and softy, silky fur, Turkish Angoras are considered treasures in their homeland of Turkey. Despite their delicate appearance, however, Turkish Angoras are playful cats that can be affectionate with their owners, and friendly with children or other pets—but she'll let those other pets know who's boss.

A natural breed that originated in Turkey as early as the 15th century, Turkish Angoras were long-thought to be only white cats with blue or green eyes. And—for many years—all long-haired cats were referred to as "Angoras." Today, however, it's widely accepted that Turkish Angoras can come in a variety of colors and variations, including Himalayan, Calico, Tortoiseshell, and Tabby.

A Turkish Angora can thrive in most home types, but does best in a home with lots of love and attention. Compared to other cats, the Turkish Angora is somewhat needy, and doesn't like to be left alone. Turkish Angoras also have higher energy levels, and can get into mischief if she becomes bored. Think: Opening cabinets, turning on faucets, or knocking things off of surfaces.

Breed Overview

Weight: Between 5 and 9 pounds

Length: Between 12 and 18 inches

Coat: A long, silky, single coat that has a sheen

Coat Color: White with lavender, chocolate, or Himalayan, Tabby, or Calico variations

Eye Color: Light blue, sapphire, emerald, green-gold, gold, amber, copper, or two different colors completely

Life Expectancy: 13 years or longer

Characteristics of the Turkish Angora

Affection Level Medium to High
Friendliness Medium to High
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Low
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Turkish Angora

Unlike many man-made cat breeds, the Turkish Angora is a naturally occurring breed that originated in Turkey sometime during the 15th century. No one knows the exact origins, but it's believed that they originated from the African wildcat, and their long, silky hair is the result of a spontaneous mutation. Others believe Turkish Angoras developed their longer coats as protection against harsh, snowy climates in Ankara (formerly Angora).

Despite these origin stories, legend says Turkish Angoras may have originated even earlier: It's believed that Mohammad (the founder of the Islamic faith) adored cats, and once cut off his sleeve to avoid disrupting the Turkish Angora sleeping in his arms.

The earliest written reference of Turkish Angora cats dates back to 16th century France, so it's commonly accepted that Turkish Angoras began moving into Britain and France during the late 15th century. By the 1700s, Turkish Angoras were imported to the Americas.

Turkish Angoras were exhibited at some of the first cat shows in the late 19th century, and Persian breeds began to incorporate them into their breeding programs. This, unfortunately, caused Turkish Angora populations to dwindle throughout Europe. In response, Turkish Angoras became the treasures of Turkey, and a breeding program was established at the Ankara Zoo to preserve them.

During the 1950s, American servicemen stationed in Turkey saw the zoo's Turkish Angoras, and attempted to bring some home. Although the breeding program was hesitant to give up some of its cats, two cats were gifted to Colonel and Mrs. Walter Grant. These cats became the foundation of the American Turkish Angora breeding program. Over the years, many more Americans brought Turkish Angoras home and propagated the breed through the United States.

The Cat Fanciers Association began to accept white Turkish Angoras in 1968—colored Turkish Angoras weren't registered until 1978. Today, Turkish Angoras are also recognized by the International Cat Fanciers Association, among other groups.

Turkish Angora Care

Despite the Turkish Angora's delicate, luxurious appearance, grooming is relatively simple. Because Turkish Angoras have a single coat, they're far less prone to tangles and matting. Simply brush your cat's coat once per week to remove debris, and bathe as needed. Those with light colored Turkish Angoras may find they have to bathe their cats more frequently. Fortunately, many Turkish Angoras love water—and are natural swimmers!—so bath time may not be as challenging as you'd imagine.

Like all cats, your Turkish Angora may be susceptible to periodontal disease if proper dental hygiene isn't practiced. Daily brushing is ideal, but brushing weekly will offer your cat some protection.

Be sure to check your cat's ears weekly for dirt, debris, or signs of infection. If your cat's ears are dirty, gently clean them with a soft, cotton cloth. Avoid ear swabs, as they can damage the delicate, inner-ear structures. If your cat's ears smell funny, or appear to be red and inflamed, make an appointment with your vet ASAP—these are common signs of ear infection.

If your cat has discharge around his eyes, gently wipe it away with a clean cloth. It's important to use separate sections of the cloth for each eye to avoid spreading potential infection.

Because the Turkish Angora has higher energy levels, you should plan to exercise your cat for 15 to 30 minutes each day. Playing with cat toys is a fun, easy way to help your Turkish Angora expend some energy.

Keeping your Turkish Angora indoors at all times is highly recommended. Allowing him to venture outdoors puts him at risk of becoming lost, stolen, or injured.

Common Health Problems

The Turkish Angora is a generally healthy cat, but—like all breeds—may be susceptible to certain health conditions. It's important to note that many white cats with one or two blue eyes are prone to deafness in one or both ears.

Some other health issues commonly seen in Turkish Angoras include:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: A type of heart disease characterized by the enlargement of the heart muscle, cardiomyopathy can affect both pedigreed and non-pedigreed cats.
  • Ataxia: A fatal, neuromuscular disorder that affects kittens aged two to four weeks. Screening has greatly reduced the instances of ataxia.

Remember: Whether your cat is pedigreed or non-pedigreed, there's no guarantee that she will—or won't—develop certain health conditions. If you're concerned about your Turkisk Angora's health, talk to your veterinarian about steps you can take to ensure a long, happy, healthy life.

Diet and Nutrition

Your cat's diet depends largely on its age, sex, and activity levels. If you're not sure how much to feed your cat, check the feeding guide from your favorite cat food, or talk to your veterinarian. Overfeeding can lead to obesity—which brings a whole host of other health problems—so it's important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet for your Turkish Angora.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Turkish Angora

Turkish Angoras are relatively uncommon in the United States, so it may be difficult to find one through your local shelter or rescue organization. Check websites like PetFinder.com, which allows you to search for cats by breed, or ask your local shelter, vet, or a reputable breeder if they know of any Turkish Angoras that need a good home.

If you choose to work with a breeder, it's important to do your research and ensure they have an ethical, reputable program. Lookout for signs of an unethical program, like extremely frequent litters of kittens or the ability to pay for your kitten online. If you're able to visit the breeding site, large volumes of cats and unhealthy or sick looking cats are major red flags.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing any cat home, it's important to do your research and ensure the breed is a fit for your family.

If you're interested in breeds similar to the Turkish Angora, check out: