History of the Turkish angoras


As its name indicates, Turkish Angora comes from Turkey. It seems that it was domesticated first by the Tartars and the Chinese in the town of Angora (old name of Ankara). As for the origin of the long hair, there’s no mystery left : the change in the "short hair" genes of the original cat appeared in the middle East from Persia or from Turkey ; the long hair came from Asia , from the banks of the Black Sea to the Caspian sea.

The Turkish people considered white cats with long hair as objects of great value and rich traders of the silk road echanged them as good luck charms in their Ankara palaces.

In the 17th century Turkish angora was discovered by Pietro Della Valle, a great Italian navigator who had gone away to forget a loved one and got as far as Jerusalem. His description of these cats on his return interested
Nicolas Claude Fabri de Pereisc a lot. He was a naturalist and couldn’t stop bringing them back to France where he started breeding them and became the 1st pedigree breeder. At this period there weren’t any long furred pedigree cats in Europe, so the Turkish Angora became quickly a gift which was greatly appreciated by the aristocracy and the Bourgeoisie.

Richelieu, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, la Pompadour became infatuated with famous angoras like "Brillant" belonging to Louis XV. European Nobles looked out for them and bought them at a great cost because they were considered as luxurious objects.

Famous painters of that period and until 1860 painted Turkish angora cats eg of one "the child and it’s cat", "A cat watching a bird" by J.J. Bachelier in 1761. Gustave Courbet’ studio in 1855 where he shows us his white angora called "Etoile".
Buffon describes the 3 races of cats known at that time in his Natural History (1756): the domestic European cat, the chartreux cat and the angora, our Turkish angora. At about 1880, the writer Pierre Loti on the Vaudour which was anchored in the port of Istanbul. named his white turkish angora with odd eyes "Belkis"

But it was in England that the Turkish angora started interesting breeders. The famous judge Mr H. WEIR described that race of cats in his works "Our cats and all about them " (1889) , the best are pure-white with blue eyes, colours vary, but the black and the blue which must have orange eyes, are in next choice after the white ones.

Colours will always cause a problem for this race. Indeed 9 years after H. Weir’s book came out, it was decided to accept only white Turkish angoras.

This colour problem came back again and again and causes contreverse even now.

After these annoying beginnings things went wrong for the angora cats. The English breeders started crossing their angoras with Afghan cats with long woolly fur to make a Persan cat. They succeeded marvellously. More than they could wish for to obtain that lovely cat we all know. But if the Persan had great success, the poor Turkish angora got forgotten. Nobody spoke about them, "angora" suggested any type of cat with long hair, the public used the name angora (and still do) to talk about a persan or of any cat with long hair. Many alley cats, coming from crossing long hair cats are called "angora" wrongly but often they are not geniune pedigrees.

In Turkey people were upset at seeing the British abandon the angora, which they had liked so very much. At the end of the 2nd world war, Ankara zoo wanted to save its National angora (named Ankara Kedi – cat from Ankara). They forbade its exportation and chose 30 angoras with blue eyes, amber eyes, green eyes and odd eyes.

They could have stagnated a long time if the Americans hadn’t suddenly got interested in them.

In 1962 a couple of Americans, Colonel and Mrs Walter Grant of the US Army got special permission to take a couple of these cats to america. There was a white male with odd eyes "Yildiz" (Star) and a white female with amber eyes "Yildizcik" (starlette). 

The first american litter of Turkish angoras were born a few months later. There was Mustapha, a white male with odd eyes and Shuna Aïsha a white female with amber eyes. They were registered in a book of American origin, the CFA. The race was thus recognised officially.

In 1967 we noticed the first re-appearance of the 3 Turkish angoras at a yearly meeting of the CFA in Los Angeles.

Towards the end of the sixties, a small group of breeders founded "the Original Turkish Angora Society" to promote the pure white Turkish angora. From then onwards, the race started spreading in different European countries. In Holland, in France…

Many american breeders wanted to priveledge white, as in Europe the International Feline Federation did (FIFE). They didn’t accept any other colour. On the over hand in 1978 numerous varieties of colours were allowed by the CFA followed by several independant European clubs. Now we can admire black angoras, blue, red, cream, smoke, tabbies, two colours, calico, in fact about every known colour except the colourpoint pattern.

Today the French breeders possess more and more sorts of colours. Even though it is more difficult for these angoras to get into to exhibitions, compared to the white angoras, it still remains a necessity to keep breeding them to avoid deaf kittens being born into the world.


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