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Photos Courtesy of Crystal Arnold

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The Traditional Turkish Angora includes all colors, patterns, and Traditional Turkish Angora body types of Turkish origin, which include the Ankara Kedisi, the Turkish Van, the Classic Turkish van, the Anatolian Cat, the Aphrodite, and the Van Kedisi. These are all names for the same, naturally occurring breed of cat. The Traditional Turkish Angora is a long haired, "biggish sized cat".

History of the Traditional Turkish Angora

What the Turks are saying...

Personality of the Traditional Turkish Angora

Q: What is the HISTORY of the Traditional Turkish Angora?


A: The Traditional Turkish Angora has been around for hundreds and even perhaps thousands of years and will be with us for a long time to come. The history of this magnificent breed is extensive and rich.

There are several theories concerning the origin of the Traditional Turkish Angora. At some point it is mentioned, that long-haired breeds (Including the Traditional Turkish Angora and the Traditional Persian (Doll Face)) descended from the short hair African wildcat, native to Asia and Africa. The African wild cat posses the same chromosome number and structure as domestic cats, and interbreeds easily with them. A different assertion tells us, that they descended from a wild cat called the Pallas Cat or the Manul cat (Otocolobusmanul) a long haired Asian wildcat, domesticated by the Tartars and Chinese, then later by the Turks. The range of these original cats occupied the Caspian Sea, the south shore of which is Persia (Now Iran). Iran’s neighbor to the west is Turkey, whose capital, Ankara, was formerly called Angora. Another source stated that they came from the Lake Van area of south-eastern Turkey, which resulted in them being called "Van Cats" for a while. The long hair gene is recessive and probably mutated spontaneously and was perpetuated over centuries of inter-breeding in confined, mountainous regions such as the Lake Van region, that limited out crossing. The district of Van is snowed in for six months of the year, so these cats were very hardy, and have extensive winter coats. However, it is very hot in Van in the summer, so the cats shed to a much lesser coat in the summer months.

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Photos Courtesy of Crystal Arnold

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Legend has it that Mohammed (570 – 632), founder of the Islamic faith, possessed a Traditional Turkish Angora he regarded so highly that rather than disturb it as it slept on his robe, he cut off the sleeve. Mohammed’s Traditional Turkish Angora was reputed to have been odd-eyed (one blue eye and one gold eye).

The Traditional Turkish Angora is believed to have originally come from Angora, Turkey, the Persian Province of Chorazan, Russia and Afghanistan to Europe in the late 1500’s, with their principal color being white. These cats have been domesticated for centuries, in fact for as long as the famous Saluki Hound! Their fur was of great value to the natives of Angora, as it formed an important article of commerce and was greatly sought after by merchants of surrounding countries. The Traditional Turkish Angora was said to be a great favorite of the Armenians and Turks who especially enjoyed how their unique coat color contrasted with their oriental furnishings and for their exceptional character.

A book about "Feline Husbandry" was written by Niels Pedersen, who set forth what he called the "seven ancient mutations". One of these Mutations created long hair in cats. The others were solid coloration, tabby striping, the dilution gene (which causes colors to produce a lighter tone), sex-linked orange coloration, the white spotting factor and dominant white. Of course, many other mutations occurred over the centuries, but these seven occurred so long ago, no one knows exactly when and where they developed. All of these mutations are seen in the Traditional Turkish Angora, as well in other breeds.

When such mutations occur in isolated areas, like the cold plateaus of Turkey, this trait is more likely to be spread through the existing cat population. A speculation says the gene for long hair spontaneously arose in three separate areas where cold harsh climates made the longer, insulating fur an important part of survival. These were Russia, Persia (now Iran) and Turkey. Because of the unforgiving environment and high elevations in Turkey, cats with long fur had dominance. Another belief is that the mutation developed in only one of these places and was then transported to the others later. At some point they manifested the dominant white gene. Yet they still have a wide variety of colors and patterns.

The first long haired cats seen in Europe in the sixteenth century came from Angora or Ankara in Turkey. It is from the Angoras, later called Persians and later referred to as long-haired, that by selective breeding the many colored and beautifully typed varieties of today have evolved.

During the 1600’s these famous cats made their way to Europe by caravans on the important Turkish, Russian and Persian trade routes between Europe and the Middle East. Rare animals were a marketable transport. By 1626 they had arrived in Italy.

Some breeders claimed that Angoras came to America with the early settlers. This is an assertion, though never documented, that could well be true.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey



The subject could be brought up that there is an Angora Rabbit and an Angora Goat, both with coats that are long and silky. However, these names must have been given to the Rabbit and Goat breeds long after the Angora Cat appeared. Angora sweaters are made from the hair of these rabbits and goats, but not from the Traditional Turkish Angora cats fur.

The French naturalist, Count de Buffon, observed in the mid-18th century that cats in Persia "except in color bore a perfect resemblance to the cat of the Angora." Persian cats were gray, said Buffon, while Angoras were black, white, deep red, light fawn, or mottled gray.

Of interest is a letter addressed to the President of the French Zoological Society by M. Lottin de la Val. It dates from a meeting of this organization held on May 11, 1856, "When you recently did me the honor of calling on me, you imparted the recently held view that the so called "Angora" cat does not exist or could not exist except in the vicinity of ancient Ancyra. I hasten to dispel this illusion. I myself came upon specimens of that lovely feline species in the great Armenian plateau, at Erzerum, where the climate is greatly different from that of Angora. The species is very numerous at Mourch in Kurdistan, where it is the dominant variety. I also found it at Billis and in the Pashalik of Bayazit.. The finest specimens, however, which I saw belonged to the Archbishop of Van, a town in the east of Kurdistan, on the frontier of Azerbaidjan. He had three of them, one pearl grey, one orange-hued with black and white flecks, and a third, which was completely white. Their fur was magnificent, though there was thought to be nothing to be surprised at in them, as such cats are common in Kurdistan. I also saw some at the residence of Khan Mahmoud, Prince of Hekiars, at Alpeit. I can not recall having seen any in Persia, though, had I thought that scientists might have been interested, I would have taken care to seek them out, busy as I was. But what will surprise you most of all is that despite the high temperatures prevailing, one should find Angora cats at Bagdad, though certainly these are not so fine as those to be found on the northern slopes of the Medique and Taurus mountains, though whether the difference is due to the hot atmosphere or the hostility of the people of Bagdad, I cannot say. You will no doubt settle that point better than I could, all I can say is that the people of Bagdad are in constant warfare with their cats, maintaining, not without good reason, in my opinion, that they bring the plague, because of their fur coats and their habits."
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Photos Courtesy of
Crystal Arnold

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Several years before breeding, showing and keeping records on cats were thought of, "The Book of Cats" was written in 1867 by Charles H. Ross. The book was surprisingly well received. In it Mr. Ross gave descriptions of definite varieties, for example, "The Cat of Angora, with silvery hair of fine silken texture. Some being yellowish, and others olive, approaching to the color of the Lion, but they are all delicate creatures, and of gentle dispositions."

Early cat shows were quite simple compared to today. In 1874 W. Gordon Stables, M.D., C.M., R.N, wrote in his book, "Cats, Their points and Characteristics, with Curiosities of Cat Life", "On judging of long-haired cats very few words will suffice. The classes, are tortoiseshell and White, Tabby, Red Tabby, Pure White, Black and Unusual Color. These classes must be judged by: Markings, which are wanted as distinct and well arranged as possible. Size-they ought to be large cats. Pelage-ought to be very long, silken and glossy. The eyes should be of the same color as in the short-haired classes. Miss Hale’s Angora, "Selim" is a very fine specimen, slate colored on the body, the face vandyked with white, and a beautiful snowy apron in front. His eyes are green and sparkling, and from his cage he glares out at you with a look of surly grandeur, highly characteristic of his noble breed. The same lady’s "Zuleika", a pussy imported from Smyrna, is a most lovely and engaging little thing. All white, with small round head, long haired, and pitiful eyes, as if it wanted so much to be petted-in fact just lived to be loved, and nothing else. It is a pet fit for a princess."

TA Female

TA Female

TS Male

Photos of Traditional Turkish Angora cats from the Ankara Zoo Courtesy of Harvey Harrison - Breeder of Traditional Turkish Angora cats. (Circa 2005) (Click on Photos to enlarge).

In Harrison Weir’s book "Our Cats and All About Them", published in1889, He stated, "The best are of high value, a pure white with blue eyes, being thought the perfection of cats, all other points being good, and its hearing by no means defective. The colors are varied, but the black, which should have orange eyes, as should also the slate colors, and blues, and the white are the most esteemed." He also told about an Angora cat, which was exhibited at Brighton, "This cat had tinted fur, white with black tips. It was a beauty with the white scarcely visible unless the hair was parted."

In the early days the Traditional Turkish Angora were highly treasured, being a status symbol of the aristocracy. Rumor has it that one Traditional Turkish Angora owner turned down an offer of $5,000 for her prized Angora at an 1890 cat show in London. This amount of money could purchase a respectable house at that time.

For a time it was assumed that Traditional Turkish Angora’s and Traditional Persians (Doll Face) were different names for the same long-haired cat, but this was not true. Arguments came forth saying that, "The name "Persian" would seem to be somewhat of a misnomer, as it has yet to be proven that these lovely animals originated from that country. Angora seems to be a much better term." Fifty years after they came to England and France the long-haired breeds known at the time were classified as "Angoras", "Persians", "Russians" and "Indians". The Traditional Turkish Angora was the most popular.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey

In Frances Simpson’s 1903 "The Book of the Cat", she provides only minimal information about this very old breed, "In classing all long-haired cats as Persians I may be wrong, but the distinctions, apparently with hardly any difference between Angoras and Persians are of so fine a nature that I must be pardoned if I ignore the class of cat commonly called Angora, which seems gradually to have disappeared from our midst. Certainly, at our large shows there is no special classification given for Angoras, and in response to many inquiries from animal fanciers I have never been able to obtain any definite information as to the difference between a Persian and an Angora cat. Mr. Harrison Weir, in his book on cats, 1889, states that the Angora differs somewhat from the Persian in that the head is rather smaller and ears larger, fur more silky with a tendency to woolliness."

The poet J. Slingsby Roberts had an Angora Tom, named Soloman, with emerald eyes.

At the end of the sixteenth century it is claimed that Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peirese, a naturalist, scientist and archaeologist, introduced the first Angora to France, and it is presumed that the cat actually came from Angora.

Anoush Vahid of Sadakat

Photos Courtesy of
Heather Lane-Lillis

Click on photo to enlarge

The first Traditional Turkish Angoras are said to have made their way to Great Britain via France. From England they ventured to Germany. The first organization dealing with purebred cat breeding was started in Germany in 1922, under the name of "1. Deutscher Angorakatzen-Schultz-and Zuchtverein (1st. German Association for the Protection and Breeding of Angora Cats). Through this group Herr. K. Hirschmann organized the first purebred cat show as early as 1924 in Nuremberg. A wonderful array of cats appeared in the cages that contained several Traditional Turkish Angoras (still with long noses) and surprisingly two "Siamese temple cats (now known as Traditional Siamese and Classic Siamese)" with gold plated collars. These Traditional Turkish Angoras were the first ever shown in Germany. Herr Hirschmann was the judge, basing his show standards on a booklet from England. More shows followed in Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden and in Rheims in 1933. Herr Hirschmann had great show success with his Red Self Angora cats, whose parents he had imported from England.

This German Organization began a Registry and Stud Book in 1922, with the first entry being Herr Hirschmann’s "von Brosame", followed by "Puppi Edle von Fipsheim", the mother of numerous prize-winning kittens. During the 1920’s and 1930’s Berlin played a leading role in German cat breeding. During this time Frau L. von Werner owned a cream Angora, "Hell von Babelsberg", a beautiful male from Frau von Harbou’s breeding. This "Hell von Babelsberg" was a direct descendant of the cream tom, "Bincie of Bredon", from the Wolfsitz cattery of Baroneess von Larisch. "Bredon" was a famous British prefix.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey

In 1947 the Angora was described as being imposing, white in color with a magnificent plumed tail. Even though they came in several other colors, breeders at that time were endeavoring to keep them only pure white with great success because white propagates itself with consistency. The Angora was considered a parlor cat, very sensitive to cold and dampness and consequently delicate in constitution. Their owners were warned not to feed them tripe, giblets, or scraps of fish, since their digestion would upset much sooner than that of other cats. Angoras and Persians were highly valued when they were purebreds. Yet, many young Angoras were sold without their new owners knowing what they had purchased. For a while all long-haired cats were called "Angoras", and then for a while they were called "Persians". The ordinary person made no distinction between breeds. The Traditional Turkish Angora, and Russian Long-hairs were indiscriminately used extensively in Traditional Persian breeding programs to add length and silkiness to the Persian coat.

Slowly the term "Angora" in relationship to long-haired cats in England was seldom if ever used in that country. A typical Angora rarely existed then, so it was offensive to breeders to see a number of badly bred, long-haired cats advertised and spoken of as Angoras. The general public in England at the time thought of any long-haired cat as an Angora. Even poor Maine Coons were termed Angoras. Whatever the Angora was originally, it had become far removed from purebred Angoras. The purebred, imported long-haired cats were thought to be a cross of the Angora and the Persian. The Persian possessed a rounder head than the Angora. Also their coats were quite different. The coat of a Persian then had a wooly under coat and a long, hairy outer coat. Their hair was somewhat shorter on the shoulders and upper part of the hind legs. The Angora, on the other hand, had a long, soft hair, hanging in locks, inclining to a slight curl or wave on the under parts of the body. Their hair was much longer on the shoulders and hind legs than the Persians, and was not so plentiful nor evenly profuse as the Persian’s. . The Angora had a more wedge-shaped head, compared to the Persians roundness of face. Of course the Angoras and Persians of the 1940’s era were constantly crossed with each other, causing what was considered a decided improvement to each breed. Even Traditional Russian Blues were used. The long-haired cat of the 1940’s was decidedly more Persian bred than Angora. The Persian breeders liked the resulting long, locky coat, especially where great length of coat was produced on the shoulders and legs.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey


As we see the three breeds were interbred, and when that was done, the Traditional Turkish Angora characteristics tended to disappear and the Traditional Persian (Doll Face) dominated. In time, true Traditional Turkish Angoras ceased to exist as a pure breed and vanished from the western world. By the 1900’s they had virtually vanished from America too. By 1909 Dorothy Champion, an American Persian breeder, declared, "That the term "Angora" should be seldom if ever used in this country as a typical Angora scarcely exists. The long haired cat of today is decidedly more Persian-bred than Angora." However, only in the mid 1950’s was the term "Persian" adopted as a breed name. All longhairs simply continued to be registered as longhairs, even though the cat world had been calling them Persians for more than half a century.

In England Laura Lushington and Sponia Halliday played a role in the Traditional Turkish Angora breed when they were given a pair of what they called "Van kittens" in 1955 while traveling by car and camping in Turkey. They decided to bring them back to England through rough traveling conditions. The fact that they did well showing the wonderful adaptability and intelligence of their breed. Once involved in a breeding program, they proved to breed absolutely true. This pair of ladies decided to establish the breed and push for its acceptance by the GCCF to save the breed from eventual extinction in its present form. Although domesticated and privately owned, the cats were not being bred on a scientific basis in Turkey. In order to find new, unrelated Traditional Turkish Angoras to enlarge their breeding stock, they had to go back to Turkey four years later. The new cats had to go through the inhumane, British, six month, quarantine. The first Registered Traditional Turkish Angora in Britain was "Van Guzelli Iskendern", imported by Miss Lushington in 1955. In 1969 "Turkish Cats’ were accepted by the GCCF in England. The first Traditional Turkish Angora open class Champion was their, "Van Alanya". The Breed Standard at this time called for a mostly white cat with auburn spots on the forehead and an auburn tail, ringed in light and dark shades. It was supposed to have Amber eyes. One has to wonder if this was totally for the benefit of the Lushington/Halliday cats this describes, or if the whole breed was even considered.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey


Since 1939 the government of Turkey in conjunction with The Ankara Zoo began protecting its famous breed of cats by supervising and maintaining a breeding program. For a lesser period of time the Zoo in Istanbul did also. Only white Angoras with blue and amber eyes are raised and accurate records are kept on all the offspring. Particularly prized is the odd-eyed Traditional Turkish Angora, believed to be touched by Allah, who has one blue eye and one gold eye. They are called "Ankara Kedisi" in their native country. There is an untrue belief the Turkish government banned any exportation of their Traditional Turkish Angoras in an effort to preserve their gene pool there. From P. Aksoy we learn, “There is no ban or any law like this.  But still you can meet some Turkish people including officials who believe in this.”

 P. Aksoy explains about the Zoo, “The Ankara Zoo was never an important institution.  The breeding program was very unscientific.  Volunteers (not even government employees) collected any white Angora cat they could find – the solid white cat they considered as a “breed” (including shorthair white cats which were later separated and made into the “Van Kedisi” in the same zoo). The conditions even today are far from best.  The Ankara Zoo could be a place for someone who wants to get a white Angora cat, however the breeding program makes no sense as Angora cats freely roam everywhere in Turkey. Most of the free roaming cats in Turkey are “purer” than the pedigreed “Angora” of the cat fancy.   In conclusion, the Ankara Zoo did not save anything, but it is widely used as a “historical fact” of the fake Angora and is very over rated.”

New interest in the breed in the U.S. began when in 1962 Colonel Walter and Liesa F. Grant were given special permission from the Governor of Ankara to take an unrelated pair of true Traditional Turkish Angoras of a type not seen in the West for many years from Turkey to the United States. Fortunately these were purebred Traditional Turkish Angoras from the Angora Cat Colony maintained for many years in the Ankara Zoo. The female, "Yildizcik" (Starlet) was amber-eyed, and the male, "Yildiz" (Star), was odd-eyed, with one eye brilliant blue and the other amber. Perhaps other Angoras had arrived in North America by various means, but these two cats were the first "official" ones to arrive, complete with all their records. The Grant’s brought still another unrelated pair back from Turkey, under the same arrangements, in 1966. This time the eye colors were reversed with the female, "Mavis" being odd-eyed with the male, "Yaman", having amber eyes. These cats excited a great deal of comments! Subsequent importations by Americans stationed in or traveling through Turkey provided the foundation stock used to reconstruct the Traditional Turkish Angora as a separate breed in the U.S. The breed was accepted in the U.S. in 1973, due to the instrumental efforts of the Grants.

Nettie Tuzcu lived in Turkey, when the Zoo was doing its breeding program. She remembered, "They had these cats-a few breeding pairs-at the Ankara Zoo." She admired the caged cats so much, she persuaded her husband’s uncle, who just happened to be the Minister of Agriculture, to get her a pair. That marked the beginning of her lifelong love affair with the regal breed. Tuzcu bred and cared for the cats, while living in Turkey, then took them with her when she moved to the U.S.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey


Perhaps because only white cats were used in the Breeding program of the Ankara Zoo, this color predominates in the breed today. However, there are recessive genes to other colors that can arrive in litters from time to time. The white color is dominant, therefore a white cat must always have at least one white parent. It can never be a throwback. “Once the American registries recognized the Traditional Turkish Angora, they registered many unknown cats, states P. Aksoy, “including those that probably even did not come from Turkey. I myself studies numerous “Turkish Angora” pedigrees.  Many cats have no records of their origin, some breeders like Taspinar/Tai-phoon (cats used in Azima breeding excessively) were known for their bad reputation (breeding their “Angoras” with various cats including Siamese and Persians whose recessive colors are still alive in the USA and EU Angora breeding programs). American breeders did mistakes and those mistakes turned to a weird looking, thin boned breed they call “Turkish Angora”.  No wonder, when we compare DNA of cats from Turkey and those “cat show champions”, they turn to completely unrelated breeds!.” What’s more CFA refused to register non-white Traditional Turkish Angoras until 1978,  sometime after the other associations had recognized the breed in a variety of colors. This is why most of the Traditional Turkish Angoras in the U.S. are white.

The first U.S. Grand Champion was No Ruz Kristal of Azima., bred by Elain Gesel of Bowmanville, N.Y.and owned by Barbara Azan of Azima Cattery in New York. 

Another early breeder in the U.S. was Barbara Azan of Azima Cattery in New York, who was instrumental in getting the breed recognized and popularized in the United States and in exporting examples of the breed to other parts of the world. 

Luckily for all of us who enjoy cats, the ancient long haired breed the Traditional Turkish Angora has made its way in the world, respected and loved by those who know them well.

Traditional Turkish Angora’s still roam the countryside and villages of their native Turkey today, virtually unchanged through many centuries. A Turkish word best summarizes the breed, which is "yaman", meaning strong, smart and capable.

Source: P. Aksoy, The Angora Cat Association (Ankara Kedisi Dernegi) Turkey.

What are those in Turkey saying about the TTA?

Good News For The Traditional Turkish Angora (added 3/10/13)

More History on the Traditional Angora

What is the PERSONALITY of the Traditional Turkish Angora?

The Traditional Turkish Angora is second to none. Strong, adaptable, lively, mischievous, friendly, docile, poised, regal, graceful, beautiful, and elegant, they are truly the aristocrats of the long-hairs. Usually they are gentle and easy to get along with, who make colorful, affectionate, playful pets. The whole house is their cat toy with any small object becoming a hockey puck. Climbing on furniture, door tops and shelves, while looking down at their owner is normal fun to them. They bond with their owners completely and are not happy unless they are right in the middle of things. A good conversation is always enjoyed, as they can keep up their end of the dissertation. A determined nature makes it difficult to change their mind once they get an idea into their head. Extremely intelligent, they are quick to learn simple tricks, such as fetching or playing catch with a soft ball. Helping to make beds, cook, and do laundry is on their "to do" list. If nothing is going on, they will make something happen. They can solve a problem and are eager to "show off" to company. They will tolerate being held for only a short time before wanting down to bat at sunbeams and chase toys. Even kittens are capable of jumping to your eye level from a standing start, when chasing a toy. Described as "pure poetry in motion", "animated, fluid grace", "Living sculptures in fur", and "there’s nothing better on four paws", owners are always emphatic about the wonderful temperament and personality of this breed. Their symmetry and devotion evoke strong responses of loyalty from their human family.

Numerous color photos courtesy of The Angora Cat Association, Turkey


Unlike other long-haired breeds, the Traditional Turkish Angora does not need a lot of grooming, because they have no wooly, downy undercoat. Their fur doesn’t mat the way a Persians is prone to do. They keep themselves very clean. A once a week combing does them well. Some of their owners claim that their usual allergies or asthma don’t flare up around Traditional Turkish Angoras, perhaps because of their single coat.

In additional to their great capacity for affection and alert intelligence, their outstanding characteristic is their liking for water, not usually regarded as a feline attribute. Not every Traditional Turkish Angora enjoys water, but many do. Those who do not only dabble in water and play with it, but have been known to voluntarily enter ponds and even warm horse-troughs for a swim. Even when young kittens they swim in shallow streams and still water. They soon became famous as the ‘swimming cats".

As parents, they have healthy, robust kittens with little difficulty and with much enjoyment from courtship to the raising of their kittens.

What is the HEALTH of the Traditional Turkish Angora?

Unfortunately, as in most breeds of white colored cats, partial or total deafness can occur, especially in the blue-eyed, and odd-eyed cats. This is not a defect of the breed, but rather a defect in the dominant gene that produces white coat color and blue eyes in cats. They are no more prone to this than any other breed. The odd-eyed Traditional Turkish Angoras are generally only deaf in one ear; the blue eyed side. While hearing impaired Traditional Turkish Angoras must be kept out of harm’s way, they otherwise enjoy life just as much as their hearing cats and they usually adapt to their hearing loss remarkably well.


Historical Record © March 2002
Diana Fineran

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These 1889 drawings done by Harrison Weir, the father of cat shows, are of great historical importance because they present the breed as it originally was and as The Traditional Cat Association, Inc. (TCA, INC.) recognizes it today.  A favorite of the Turks and the Armenians, the Traditional Turkish Angora was mentioned by writers as early as the1780's.    

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As the author of this presentation, I was honored to be contacted by Barbara Azan of Azima Turkish Angoras, who has been breeding them for 35 years now.  Her comments about my article are, "My Cattery was established in 1969.  I am astonished at the wealth of information that you have gathered about the Turkish Angoras.  It is an amazingly good article, incorporating a great deal of thorough research."


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