Past and presence / History of the Turkish Angora

The Turkish Angora is quite an unknown breed.. Even though she is one of the eldest cat breeds, she's only got quite a small fan club here in Europe. On one hand that's a pity, on the other hand it's a big advantage. The fact that this breed is fairly unknown has saved her from degeneration up till now. The very few breeders of this race are anxious to keep these striking qualities by worldwide exchange of breed animals in order to enlarge the genpool. Also part of that is the import of so called Foundationanimals from Turkey, who are subject to a tough natural selection in their homeland. No hobbybreeder is capable of keeping his beloved ones so cruel but efficiently from degeneration as mother nature. Thoroughly chosen imports also make sure that the physical appearance of this breed doesn't distance itself too much from its Turkish original. This way new bloodlines come in, but the efforts for a good homogeneous standard are not endangered.

This very old catrace apparently originates from southern Kaukasia and was spread by trade-caravans. It is the origin of many other nowadays better known breeds, for example the Norwegian Forestcat, Maine Coon and last but not least the Persian. Once an expensive preciousness, the Turkish Angora abruptly lost importance at the beginning of this century just because of her non extreme characteristics. She had become rare in Turkey and had nearly disappeared in the rest of the world. When the Turkish government realized that its national cat was going to die out, the breed was put under national wildlife protection. The export of white Turkish Angoras was completely forbidden.

In a nationwide appeal private households where asked to provide white Turkish Angoras. They were collected in the state-owned zoos of Ankara , later also in Istanbul, where they served to breeding and race preservation. In the zoos they did, as we know today, a fatal selective breeding on white color. But mother nature helped too in that matter, because this breeding on Whites expressed itself as a dead end. The healthier, not homozygous white cats reproduced themselves much better. So the colored varieties were maintained (survived), until they got the appreciation they deserve- outside Turkey, first in America, then also in Europe. But it is due to the work of these zoos that this wonderful catbreed was preserved until its rediscovery. In the sixties breeding began in America, in the early eighties then in Germany. The origins of the old German lines are imports from Turkey and America.


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February 1998