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The Turkish Angora


by Barbara Azan and Sandralee Rodgers

ELEGANT, ETHEREAL, REGAL, STATUESQUE, STRONG and OPINIONATED are the words perhaps most descriptive of this ancient and oftentimes controversial breed. Most previous accounts of the Turkish Angora have focused on history and legend. Although these stories are interesting and often inspiring, this time we will focus on the cats as they are today: being bred, shown and living with us as our pets.

Elegant - oh yes! When a lithe Turkish Angora sits up tall, on its long, fine-boned legs, a silken sheen of gossamer fur dripping from its slender, graceful neck, with its delicately pointed face and large, expressive almond eyes (looking down on us commoners, mind you) and a crown of large, pointed, tufted ears set high atop its head, it is no wonder that the Turkish people and our breeders are so enthralled with and protective of this regal creature. It is a great shame that most people, including our judges, do not see the Angora in motion. It is then that it appears most beautiful; like a great thoroughbred horse, it literally floats through space with its ears held high, its slender, finely muscled, long body followed by a long, erect tail with a silky banner of a plume streaming out behind it.

The Turkish Angora is thought by many people to be the original longhaired cat. Ankara, formerly Angora, is known as the home of several types of animals with silky, delicately textured, long coats. The goats and rabbits still provide fur for the creation of the beautiful angora knits manufactured today. Turkish Angoras still roam the villages and countryside of Turkey, virtually unchanged through many centuries. The character that has led to their survival is strongly instinctual and extremely intelligent. Today, they are adapting well to living with people, instead of living free, but they still maintain their own, strong personality traits. Anyone who has ever owned a Turkish Angora or shown one, is very aware of that fact. These cats will reward you with exuberant affection and they love to show off, but once an Angora makes up its mind about something, not even the most clever of us can change it. Perhaps one of the best Turkish words to summarize the breed is "yaman:" strong, smart and capable. They do everything with skill and agility, from leaping to the top of your kitchen cabinets, to watching you while you work, to finding ingenious ways of eluding you when it's time for their bath. They are fantastic breeders, both male and female, having healthy, robust kittens with little difficulty and much enjoyment during both the courtship and the raising of their litters.

The Turkish Angora has an unquenchable thirst for play. They love to race through the house chasing imaginary prey. Their long slender bodies and legs, having evolved for the hunt, have the need for the continued chase at home. They can be found in the most unlikely places - making the open door of your closet swing to and fro while sitting on it or playing hockey in the bathtub, with a bottle cap for the puck, in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the silky coat of the Angora is single, which means that it has no undercoat, creating an almost care-free, longhaired cat. This is great for the cat, as well as the owner, for then it has more time to devote to "helping" around the house. An Angora feels it mandatory to be involved in every aspect of your home and life. It will love you with a profound devotion and refuse to accept any less in return. You will find your Angora interested in everything that you do. Whether you are working at your computer or cleaning your bathroom, your Angora feels it must be present to supervise the proceedings. You know it means well, even if it is not always welcome. Please don't tell it so, however. You may hurt its feelings.

THE TURKISH ANGORA SHOW CAT

For many years the Turkish Angora standard has confused and puzzled both breeders and judges. Hopefully, the new, revised standard will make the ideal Turkish Angora type clearer to everyone. The standard describes the head as a medium length wedge. This is not a modified wedge, but rather smooth and straight with neither whisker pads, pinch nor excessively protruding cheek bones to mar the lines. The profile should be in two planes, with no break. The eyes should be large, open, almond shaped, and expressive. Though eye color has no points, a really fine Turkish Angora will also have rich, deep, clear eye color, whatever the color is. Perhaps the most definitive feature of the Turkish Angora is the large, extremely high-set, vertical and erect ears, which give it the alert expression which we hold so very dear. As far as we are concerned, the larger and higher the ears, the better. To see the ears of the Turkish Angora at their most glorious, one need only hold a feather or dangle a toy in front of the cat.

The body of the Turkish Angora is long. This describes it most clearly. Long legs, long tail and a long, finely muscled, slenderly built torso, with all parts in perfect balance. The key word is LONG. As for refinement, in the Turkish Angora refinement means delicate features with no hint of coarseness anywhere on the cat. The boning must be fine. A coarsely boned cat should not be used for show, as that coarseness detracts from the elegance and grace that makes an Angora that which it should be. The silky, fine coat of the Angora changes according to the season; from a short coat with only slight britches and fluffy tail in summer to the full winter coat with medium long, silky hair complete with mane, britches, and lush, plumy tail. The coat must be silky, fine and single with no hint of shagginess. The best coats, however, are seen on mature animals over the age of three.

As with other breeds, we want our cats to be as distinctive, and as immediately recognizable, as any other breed in CFA. We are proud of the unique characteristics of the breed and would like them to be immediately identifiable as TURKISH ANGORAS, wherever encountered, whether in a crowded showhall or when visited at home.

THE COLORS: TO BE OR NOT TO BE?

The color of the Turkish Angora has been in dispute historically, and in some quarters still is. We would really like to put this subject to rest finally and completely. Yes, white has been the traditional color of the Turkish Angora both in the Ankara Zoo and in the American show ring. It was the first color shown and is still highly prized. However, technically we know that white masks color. A Turkish Angora need not be white to be a great representation of its breed. Over the years, dedicated breeders have produced wonderful colors (many times from white to white breedings). There is now a concerted effort on the part of many breeders to promote newly recognized, as well as the more traditional, colors of the Turkish Angora, which may have any eye color independent of the color of the coat. We hope that they may be accepted and treated with equal consideration and favor by the public and the judges. Type should be the criteria for excellence, not color. Check your neighborhood cat show for the new designer colors of Turkish Angora.