Every domestic animal has a different characteristic. One of the cats attracting human beings’ attention for centuries, having silky white fur, different colours, perfect hunting abilities and loving to play with water is Van cat.
The fossil of ancestor primitive of modern domestic cats can be seen about 12 million years ago. It is known that domestication of cats was made by Egyptians in 3000 B.C. The domesticated cats were treated as holy creatures and respected as goddess. Although there are various arguments about the place and time of domestication, the thing that is certainly known is that Asians took part in domestication. On the other hand some resources suggest that the cats were semi-domesticated in 1900 B.C.
Cats are carnivorous. When generalised, animals are nourished by proteins. Having sharp senses, eyes seeing well in dark, sharp paws, sharp teeth, alerted and energetic bodies, walking on their feet silently make them good hunters. They have sensitive hairs around eyes and nose which strengthen their hunting abilities.
They lose their fur hair in spring and fall, and they have facial muscles which change as a reaction to anything happening. Muscle and skeleton form are controlled in an excellent way and that is why no matter the position they fall from they always fall on their feet.
Cerebrum area is wide and indicates the intelligence of them. In addition, cerebellum is improved, which provides excellence in co-ordination.
Domesticated cats are either treated as holly creatures or are fed by people at home for hunting harmful animals like mouse, rat and insects for centuries. However, people have started to take them as close friends.
In recent years one of the cats attracting people’s attention in Turkey or in the world is Van cat. However, as required care has not been shown so far, they face loss of the species. The number of them has been decreasing day by day and the original breeds have been lost, while they were often seen in the region and almost each house had one in the past. People of Van call the cat “Pişik”. Van cats are not only seen as a pet or hunter of rats and insects but also a friend and member of the family.
It is said that Van cats used to spend summer in mountain and winter in houses. Today rarely they spend summer in Erek Mountain and summer in houses.
Van cats are described by the people of region as having long, white, silky fur, long body, tiger walking, fox like tail. Different colours of eyes (Diskrematopsi), intelligent, agile is clean, friendly, loves playing and faithful to its owner and therefore these characteristics make it a rare found cat. However, since 1950s, the cat has been introduced to the world by Europeans but this unique cat has not been introduced fully.
One of the characteristics of Van cats is the colour of their eyes. They are classified under three groups according to the colour of their eyes:
a. Both eyes blue,
b. both eyes amber colour (yellow and its tones)
c. One eye(dischromatopsy, one eye blue and the other amber).
Blue colour of Van cats usually shows turquoise blue but amber colour shows many differences in tones. The tones are amber, light amber, yellow and green almond. Although very rare, sometimes brown colour can be seen. Blue eyed cats are classified as blue eyed short, velvet furred cats and blue eyed long silky fur cats. The colour of newly born kittens is greyish. 25 days after birth the colour of eyes starts to change, and after 40 days the colour reaches final colour.
There are generally one or two black points between ears of kittens. Most of the kittens having two black points are single eyed. And this black point is taken as stamp of single eye cats. However, the black points are lost after 2 months. And sometimes they may have black hairs varying in between 8 to 30.
It is known that having different colour of eyes which human beings, dogs and doves face, is genetic defect syndrome.
Body weight of female Van cats is 2900 grams while males weigh 3600 grams.
Van cats have mating period in February-March-June. This period lasts for up to 10 days. In case of pregnancy during this period, no other mating period is seen in the same year. Pregnancy period is 62 days. The belly starts to swallow from the first month and the cat never lets any one touch her belly. Van cats like other cats prefer to give birth in the locations far away from vision, and for this reason they start to look for isolated and dark location from the first month of the pregnancy. Immediately after birth, Plasenta of the kittens are cut by the mother. Mother cat suckles its kittens for 50-60 days. However, this period can be more or less.
Van cats give birth to four kittens at one birth. The eyes of kittens are open on the 10th day. Mother licks its kittens in order to clean them and starts suckling immediately after birth. If mother deems that the location is not safe, it finds a safe place and carries the kittens there. Mother hardly leaves its kittens alone and only leaves them to meet its needs.
The kittens still with close eyes react to smells other than their mother and try to protect themselves.
The movement of the kittens at the beginning is like walking and crawling.
Kitten brothers/sisters usually fight for milk. They usually play with each other. Playing game is an essential factor for development. The game is under control of the mother and the mother teaches its kittens how to survive. If the kitten is alone, it wants to play with its mother and if mother is not there even it can play with other animals around.
The cats have a strong control over the areas they are settled in. They do not want other cats to come to their living areas. When their living places or houses are changed, they try to return to former place if they do not like the new one. Van cats get used to their new living places in 20 to 30 days. During this period, they examine the surrounding and are not interested in their owners.
The cats have more cleaning sense than other animals. They are considerably curious about cleanliness of themselves and their living surrounding. After toilet, they have instinct to burying the dirt. They clean their mouths and faces with help of their paws after eating and toilet.
The hunting characteristic of Van cats is superior. They hunt raats, mice, bird, flies and insects indoor and outdoor, and eat them. They never attack to poultry animals living with them in the house or out of the house.
Van cats love living with human beings in family environment. If they do not have relation with human beings or have a little relationship, they start to become wild.
Van cats are very affectionate, giving head butts and love bites. Especially during pregnancy they are in need of love. They are very close to their owners and love them. When they see strangers, they react and escape. They jump on the lap of the ones loving them. They are jealous of their owners showing affection to other cats and small kids.
Although there is a belief that Van cats suffer from deafness problem, only 2-3% of odd eyed (Diskromatopsy) and blue eyed cats suffer from this problem.
Van cats love to swim and play with water, and with this feature it is the only cat species.
Van cats checks the meal if it is warm with their front paws and if the meal is warm enough they eat. It is also observed that Van cats eat melon, watermelon and some fruit.
Although the fur is quite thick, they are affected by the cold.
They produce some voices in order to communicate with each other and with human beings. The voices indicate their emotions. Their meowing has some varieties. Some indicates communication with human beings some indicates communication with their kittens or for their sexual activities. The sounds generated according to their needs have different intensity and frequency. Van cats meow loudly when they see their owners in the morning in order to show their happiness. When they are hungry, they go to the kitchen door and meows to indicate that they are hungry.
When the food is given, they show their grates by means of touching their owner. When they need toilet they go to the door and meow in order to ask their owners to open the door. It is also observed that if the door needs to be opened, they jump to the handle and open it.
The studies indicated that Van Cats respond to training very well. They understand what have been taught very quickly. They immediately learn the place where soil is put for their toilet needs, and never try other places for toilet needs.
Kittens are able to learn their names when they are 2-3 months. However, it is thought that this learning means understanding the tone of the sound they are used to rather than learning the names.
It is necessary to take any actions required for preservation of lovely, friendly, intelligent, faithful, beautiful and attractive Van cats and decrease of them.