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Choosing a Turkish Angora

By: J. Anne Helgren

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English writer E.V. Lucas once said that any cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room. The Turkish Angora confirms it. This ancient breed is one of the world's most beautiful purebreds. Her fine silky fur, long elegant body, upright pointed ears and large brilliant eyes make the Angora highly prized for her beauty and grace. Once thought to be extinct, the Angora has made a recent comeback. While still rare (24th out of 37 breeds, according to the Cat Fanciers Association's 1999 registration totals), the breed is gaining new fans every year.

History and Origin

Longhaired white cats have been noted in Turkey and surrounding areas for centuries. According to legend, Muhammad, founder of the Islamic faith, possessed a Turkish Angora whom he treasured. Rather than disturb the cat as she slept on his robe, he cut off the sleeve. If true, the Angora has been around for more than 1,400 years.

Researchers speculate that the recessive mutation for long hair mutated spontaneously in areas such as the high cold plateaus of Turkey, where the cold harsh conditions made the longer, insulating fur an important survival trait. These Turkish longhairs were hardy survivors with flowing, non-matting fur, lithe bodies, and the intelligence to survive in an unforgiving environment.

Longhaired Turkish cats were imported to Britain and France as early as the late 1500s. At first Angoras were highly prized, but gradually the Persian became the preferred type in the European cat fancy and Angoras could not be found outside their native land. In the early 1900s, the Ankara Zoo in Turkey began a breeding program to protect and preserve the Angora. Because the Turkish people value the cats so highly, obtaining Angoras from the zoo was difficult. However, in 1962 two of the zoo's Angoras were imported into America. These cats revived interest in the breed, and today most North American registries accept the Turkish Angora for championship. Numbers are still small but are growing, with the registration totals gaining ground each year.

Appearance

The Angora is often confused with the Persian, but not because they look anything like one another. The Persian is a stocky, placid cat, while the Angora is small, usually ranging from 5 to 9 pounds. Their bodies are long, their ears large and pointed, and their eyes large and almond-shaped. Head shape is completely different as well; instead of the Persian's large head and flattened face, the Angora has a small, medium-long wedge-shaped head set on a long, slim, graceful neck. The legs are long, the paws round and dainty, and the tail long and tapering. When in motion, Angoras move with the grace of small, furry dancers.

A semi-longhaired breed, the Angora has fine, silky fur that is longer on the tail and around the neck. Although pure white is the most widely recognized color, most colors and patterns exist except those that indicate hybridization such as the pointed pattern and the colors chocolate and lavender.

Personality

Everything is a cat toy to the action-packed Angora. They will tolerate being held only for a few moments before jumping down to bat at sunbeams and zoom around the house at top speed. Their grace and playful antics make them loads of fun to watch. Angoras particularly enjoy heights and can usually be found perched on top of the highest cabinet.

Highly intelligent, Angoras can be very strong-willed and determined once they make up their minds. If you put your Angora's favorite toy away in the cupboard before she's finished playing with it, she won't rest until she figures out how to open the door and retrieve her property. Failing that, she'll drive you crazy asking for it until you give in and get it down for her. In a battle of wills, the Angora usually wins.

Turkish Angoras form strong bonds of love and trust with their owners, and this is one of the traits that Angora fans particularly prize. While they show affection to all members of the family, they usually bond with one special person and follow him or her everywhere. Some enjoy a good conversation, too, and are happy to keep up their end of the discussion. Their voices are generally soft and mild.

Along with her cousin the Turkish Van, the Angora is known for her swimming prowess, and some have even been known to voluntarily plunge in the swimming pool for a dip. Not every Angora enjoys water, but many do, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Much depends upon their upbringing – kittens raised by swimming mothers are more likely to pick up the habit.

Grooming

The Turkish Angora is one of the easiest longhairs to keep. Their semi-long fur doesn't possess the downy undercoat that causes fur to mat easily. Generally, Angoras need only a once-a-week combing with a good steel comb. Bathing every two months or so is recommended, particularly for white Angoras.

Turkish Angora kittens can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending upon breeder, area, bloodline, gender, color, pattern and eye color. A retired show or breeder cat runs $50 to $400. Why such a wide range? Because the very rare hearing blue-eyed or odd-eyed pure white Angora sells for considerably more than Angoras of other colors or patterns – if you can buy one at any price. It's relatively easy to get a kitten of another color or pattern, or to get a deaf white. Blue-eyed white hearing females are rare and are prized for breeding, and therefore are in high demand. Usually, such cats are kept for the breeder's own breeding program.

Association Acceptance

  • American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE)
  • American Cat Association (ACA)
  • American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA)
  • Canadian Cat Association (CCA)
  • Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)
  • Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF)
  • The International Cat Association (TICA)
  • United Feline Organization (UFO)

    Special Notes

    Deafness is not uncommon in pure white, blue-eyed Turkish Angoras. However, the Angora is no more predisposed to this than any other breed or any random-bred blue-eyed white cat. White cats can be born partially or totally deaf due to a defect in the dominant gene that is responsible for the white coat and blue eye color. This gene has been linked to a form of hereditary deafness that causes degeneration of the organ of Corti in the cochlea.
            
    Odd-eyed cats - cats with one blue and one amber or green eye - generally lose hearing in only one ear, on the side with the blue eye, if they inherit the defective gene. While hearing-impaired Angoras should always be kept inside for their protection, fanciers say they adapt remarkably well to their disability and adapt by interpreting vibrations. Cats depend upon body language and olfactory signals to a greater extent than do humans, so hearing impaired cats don't lose their ability to communicate and can still make fine companions. Deaf cats can be shown in AACE, ACFA, CCA, CFA, and UFO.

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