Turkish Angora

Turkish Angora Longhair Cats

The Turkish Angora (Turkish: ‘Ankara cat’) is a breed of domestic cat. Turkish Angoras are one of the ancient, natural breeds of cat, having originated in central Turkey, in the Ankara region (historically known as Angora). The breed has been documented as early as the 1600s and is believed to be the origin of the mutations for both the coloration white (the dominant white gene is in truth the absence of color) and long hair. The breed is also sometimes referred to as simply the Angora or Ankara cat, and in some obsolete works as the Angola.

Turkish Angora cats have a silky tail, medium-long length coat, no undercoat and a balanced body type. They are extremely athletic and will seek out high ground such as cabinets, shelves or other locations that allow them a good vantage point for observation.

Although they are known for their shimmery white coat, currently there are more than twenty varieties including black, blue, and reddish fur. They come in tabby and tabby-white, along with smoke varieties, and are in every color other than those which indicate hybridization (cross breeding), such as pointed, chocolate, lavender, and cinnamon.

Eyes may be blue, green, or amber, or even odd-eyed (one blue and one amber or green).

Ears are pointed, large and wide-set, eyes are almond shaped and the profile forming two straight planes. Another characteristic is the plumed tail, which is often carried upright, perpendicular to the back.

Turkish Angora cats are extremely active, intelligent, and involved. They bond with humans, but will often select one particular member of the family to be their constant companion. They seek to be “helpful” in any way they can with their humans, and their intelligence is at times remarkable, showing basic problem solving skills. They are easily trained, including deaf Turkish Angoras, both because of their intelligence and their desire to interact with humans.

The Turkish Angora has boundless energy. They are a cat which will often seek out “high ground” in the home, including tops of doors, bookshelves, and other furniture. Some prefer to ride their owners’ shoulders. The personality is one of the endearing qualities that makes the breed desireable to certain people. They get along well in homes with other animals, children, and high activity.

There seems to be a connection between Angoras and Persians. Persian cat was developed from mutation of Turkish Angora by British and American cat fancies. Although some cat associations think that Persian cat is a natural breed, in the 19th century Persians and Angoras were identical. In 1903, F. Simpson wrote in her book The Book Of The Cat:

In classing all long-haired cats as Persians I may be wrong, but the distinctions, apparently with hardly any difference, between Angoras and Persians are of so fine a nature that I must be pardoned if I ignore the class of cat commonly called Angora, which seems gradually to have disappeared from our midst. Certainly, at our large shows there is no special classification given for Angoras, and in response to many inquiries from animal fanciers I have never been able to obtain any definite information as to the difference between a Persian and an Angora cat.

The Angora of the 20th century was used for improvement in the Persian coat, but the type has always been vastly divergent from the Persian – particularly as the “show” type Persian has been altered in the last few decades.

Like all domestic cats, Turkish Angoras descended from the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). Fertile crescent was a place where first cats were domesticated. Cats from eastern mountainous regions of early Anatolia and through inbreeding and natural selection, developed into longhaired breeds like the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora.

Longhaired cats were imported to Britain and France from Asia Minor, Persia and Russia as early as the late 16th century, though there are indications that they appeared in Europe as early as the 14th century due to the Crusades. The Turkish Angora was used, almost to the point of extinction, to improve the coat on the Persian. The Turkish Angora was recognized as a distinct breed in Europe by the 17th century.

In the early 20th century, the Turkish government, in conjunction with the Ankara Zoo, began a meticulous breeding program to protect and preserve what they considered a national treasure: pure white Turkish Angoras. The program continues today. The zoo particularly prized odd-eyed Angoras (i.e. Turkish Angoras with one blue eye and one amber eye). The Zoo has its own cat facility which houses the white Turkish Angoras for its breeding program.

The Turkish Angora, which was brought to the Canada in 1963, was accepted as a championship pedigreed breed in 1973 by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. However, until 1978 only white Angoras were recognized. Today, all North American registries accept the Turkish Angora in many colors and patterns. While numbers are still relatively small, the gene pool and base of fanciers are growing.

A genetic study of pedigree cat breeds (using DNA taken from pedigreed cats in US and Europe)random-bred populations showed the Turkish Van as a distinct population from the Turkish Angora despite their geographical association.

The following section is an interpretation of scientific study, using evidence from the The ascent of cat breeds: Genetic evaluations of breeds and worldwide random-bred populations. This interpretation does not appear to agree with the publication. Phylogenetic trees do NOT show that anything is “more related” than any other breed, it only shows the origin of the gene pool overall. Phylogenetic trees only show similarities of origin, rather than genetic relation, calling into question the interpretation that the Turkish Angora is “more related” to any particular breed of cat.

On the other hand the phylogenetic tree indicates that pedigree Turkish Angoras are more related to Tunisian random bred cats and Egyptian Mau than Turkish random bred cat populations. Tunisian cats and Egyptian Mau have western influence: Bayesian analysis indicated that Italian and Tunisian cats were an admixture of Western European and Mediterranean cats. This mixing supported the historical ties between Tunisia and Western European countries(Fig. 3. Factorial correspondence analysis of cat breeds and populations). . Egyptian Maus also appear to be on the verge of losing their historical origins via genetic influences from Europe.

Inconsistencies: The Turkish random bred cat populations shared similarity with Israel cats, but not with pedigree Turkish Angoras (The phylogenetic tree). Only a few Ankara Zoo cats were tested. Many pedigree Turkish Angoras are said to be descended from Ankara Zoo cats and must trace back to the earliest imported cats from the Ankara Zoo. The Ankara Zoo cats are selectively bred white longhair Turkish street cats

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