Vital Stats:Life Span: 12 to 18 years
The longhaired Angora cat is not the source for angora sweaters, although his fur is certainly just as soft and beautiful. This natural breed takes his name from the city of Ankara in Turkey, which was formerly known as Angora. For centuries, the cats have been attractive souvenirs for invaders of or visitors to Turkey and may have been the first longhaired cats to arrive in Europe. One theory suggests that Vikings brought them from Turkey more than a thousand years ago.
The cats eventually became scarce and were saved only through a breeding program originated by the Ankara Zoo. Angoras were first brought to the United States in 1954. Breeders took an interest in them, but it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that recognition for the breed was sought from the Cat Fanciers Association. The CFA began registering the cats in 1968 and granted full recognition to white Turkish Angoras in 1972. Colored Turkish Angoras were accepted in 1978. Today the cats are recognized by most North American cat registries.
The Turkish Angora is a small to medium-size cat, weighing 5 to 9 pounds.
Beautiful and elegant on the surface, the Turkish Angora can surprise an unsuspecting owner with his athleticism and intelligence. No bookcase is too high for him to reach the top, and no closed door is safe from being opened by his questing paws. While he certainly can have lovely manners, the Turkey, as he is sometimes nicknamed, has an active, boisterous side to his nature, with a cleverness that makes him endlessly entertaining. He likes to play and will do whatever is necessary to get and keep your attention, even if it means getting into a little trouble.
The Angora keeps his kittenlike playfulness well into old age. He is friendly toward guests but loves his own people best. This is a sociable breed who is best suited to a home where he will have another cat or a dog to keep him company if people aren’t home during the day. When you are home, the Angora may drape himself across your shoulders or settle comfortably into your lap. At night you’re likely to find him next to you with his head resting on your pillow.
To live happily with a Turkey, you should have a sense of humor that matches his own, as well as a good store of patience. Once he gets an idea into his head, it can be difficult to change his mind about how he should behave, but he is so charming that you probably won’t care. If you will, it’s best to consider another breed. This is an affectionate, gentle cat who is devoted to his family, but his precocious intelligence, resourcefulness, desire for interaction and play, and short attention span may make him a challenge to live with.
Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Turkish Angoras are generally healthy, but solid white cats with one or two blue eyes are prone to deafness in one or both ears. Other problems that have been seen in the breed are ataxia and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Ataxia is a fatal neuromuscular disorder that affects very young kittens at 2 to 4 weeks of age. Careful screening has greatly reduced the incidence of the disease.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease that causes the heart muscle to enlarge. It is found in pedigreed and non-pedigreed cats. Turkish Angoras are one of the breeds that may be affected by this disease.
The Turkish Angora has a single coat with a silky texture. Because there’s no undercoat to cause mats or tangles, it’s easy to groom with weekly combing or brushing, and it sheds very little. The coat doesn’t achieve its full length until the cat is approximately two years old.
Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Trim the nails every couple of weeks. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection.
Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.
Keep the Angora’s litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about bathroom hygiene, and a clean litter box will also help to keep the long coat clean.
It’s a good idea to keep a Turkish Angora as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Turkish Angoras who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Turkish Angora is best known for his long, fine, silky coat, which seems to shimmer as he moves. The length of the coat varies, with the longest hair usually seen in the ruff around the neck, the “britches” on the upper hind legs and the plumed tail. You may think of an Angora as being solid white, but the coat can also be other solid colors as well as tabby, tortoiseshell, calico or other patterns.
Beneath the coat is a body that is firm, long and muscular. Legs are long, with the hind legs being longer than the front legs, and the paws are small, round and dainty, often with tufts of fur between the toes. The long tail tapers from a wide base to a narrow end.
Contributing to the cat’s beauty is a small to medium-size wedge-shaped head with large ears that sit high on the head and are tufted with fur and large almond-shaped eyes that slant slightly upward. The eyes can be blue, green, gold, amber or odd (one blue eye and one green, green-gold or amber eye).
Children And Other Pets
The Angora who has been well socialized is comfortable with kids, making him a good choice for families who will supervise children to make sure they pet the cat nicely and don’t pull his fur or tail. He is happy to live with cat-friendly dogs, too, as long as they recognize that he’s in charge. Introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.