Colour: The traditional Angora is the blue-eyed white. Other colours include Black, Cream, Red, Brown, Silver, Grey
Turkish Angoras are an ancient Turkish breed of longhaired cat. (Angora = Ankara. The capital city of Turkey changed its spelling in 1930, but the animals named for it, such as the Angora Cat and the Angora Goat, retained their original forms.) According to Turkish legend, their great national hero, Kemel Ataturk, will one day be reincarnated as a pure white Angora Cat.
Domestic Breed: An ancient Turkish breed of longhaired cat. (Angora = Ankara. The capital city of Turkey changed its spelling in 1930, but the animals named for it, such as the Angora Cat and the Angora Goat, retained their original forms.) According to Turkish legend, their great national hero, Kemel Ataturk, will one day be reincarnated as a pure white Angora Cat.
Appearance: Traditionally a blue-eyed, white-coated cat with long, soft fur. The hairs are especially long on the neck, underside and tail, but less so on the rest of the body. This, and the absence of a woolly undercoat, gives the Angora a slender, bushy-tailed look that clearly distinguishes it from the heavier-coated Persian with its more rounded silhouette. The Angora kittens are slow to develop the typical adult coat, it not being fully displayed until the age of two years. Perhaps because of their hot-country homeland, the summer moult is extreme and leaves them looking almost like a short-haired breed.
History: There are three rival ideas concerning the origin of the Angora Cat:
(1) It was originally developed from the wild Pallas's Cat (Felis manul) by the ancient Chinese and the Tartars, and only later taken to Turkey. There is no scientific evidence to support this.
(2) A more acceptable theory envisages an old-established Russian domestic cat developing an unusually long-haired coat as a protection against the intense winter cold. This breed, taken south to Asia Minor on board trading ships, eventually arrived in Turkey and Iran, giving rise in these two warmer regions, to the Angora and Persian Cats respectively. This theory would explain the apparent anomaly of long-haired cats being named after hot countries.
(3) An alternative theory suggests that the Angora was taken from the cold mountains of eastern Persia by Islamic invaders in the fifteenth century. Once in Turkey, its coat changed slightly, becoming less thick and fluffy than that of its Persian ancestors. (For details see Persian Cat.)
Whichever is true, in Turkey there were soon several colour forms of Angora Cat, each with its own title. There was, for example, a red tabby called the sarmen and a silver tabby called the teku. There was also an odd-eyed white cat with one blue eye and one amber eye, called the Angora kedi. In some circles, the white form became the favoured one and purists usually insist on this as the 'only true Angora colour'.
The Angora Cat is recorded as a distinct breed in Turkey as early as the 1400s, and was the first long-haired cat to be brought to Western Europe. The earliest specimens arrived in the sixteenth century as special gifts from the Turkish Sultans to noble families in England and France. In addition, at about the same time, it is reported that the French naturalist Nicholas Claude Fabri de Pereise brought some of these cats back to France from Turkey as novelties. It was only later, in the seventeenth century and especially towards the end of the eighteenth century, that this lithely elegant breed was joined by the even longer-coated Persian Cat.
By the nineteenth century, the more luxurious Persian had come to dominate the scene and the true Angora was becoming something of a rarity. Eventually, by the turn of the century, the traditional Angora Cat had been completely eclipsed by the glamorous Persian and pure Angora specimens eventually vanished from the West.
However, in the 1960s some British breeders set about recreating the delicately beautiful Angora and achieved this goal by the careful selection of Angora types from long-haired Oriental cats. The soft-coated, bushy-tailed look was soon regained, but the typical Angora head was less easily perfected. The angular, pointed face of the typical Oriental cat persisted, setting these new, 'pseudo-Angoras' apart from the true originals. The new Angoras also retained the more vocal personality of their Oriental ancestors.
Happily, although the original breed had long ago vanished from the show rings, it was not entirely extinct. A few pure lines remained in the Ankara region of Turkey and, thanks to the intervention of the Ankara Zoo, the true Angora was eventually rescued from oblivion. The zoo collected together a number of the surviving Turkish specimens and began a serious breeding programme with them, keeping only white cats with blue, amber or odd eyes. Some of the progeny of this programme were exported and two unrelated pairs reached North America in the 1960s to form a new breeding nucleus there. These cats and their descendants are now referred to as Turkish Angoras, to distinguish them from the reconstituted British Angoras.
The reintroduction of the true Turkish Angoras in the 1960s was due to the efforts of Walter and Leisa Grant. In 1962 they visited Ankara and, with the blessing of the Governor of the city, purchased a pair of cats from the zoo there. The male was an odd-eyed white called Yildiz and the female an amber-eyed white called Yildizcik. They were joined by a second pair, also white, but this time with the male amber-eyed and the female odd-eyed, called Yaman and Marvis, in 1966. Together, these four animals became the foundation stock for the re-introduction of the ancient breed, and in 1970 the Turkish Angora was finally accepted back into the show ring as a distinct category by the CFA in America. At about the same time, American breeders formed the Original Turkish Angora Society to consolidate the revival of this distinguished cat. In the 1970s additional cats were imported from Ankara Zoo, this time to Britain and Sweden, and the breed has since become re-established in many parts of Europe.
Personality: Terms that have been used to describe this breed include: polite, courteous, responsive, fastidious, gentle, kind, sweet, affectionate, alert, loyal and intelligent; sometimes shy and aloof, sometimes outgoing and gregarious. Graceful in movement, but unusually immobile - the ideal indoor house cat.
One of the earliest descriptions of this breed, by Sir William Jardine in 1834, reads as follows: Angora Cats '...are frequently kept in this country as drawing-room pets, and are said to be more mild and gentle in their tempers than the common cat...We have not heard much in praise of their utility.'
Charles Ross, writing in 1868, provides another early evaluation of the character of this breed: 'The Cat of Angora is a very beautiful variety, with silvery hair of fine silken texture....they are all delicate creatures, and of gentle dispositions. Mr Wood, while staying in Paris, made the acquaintance of an Angora, which ate two plates of almond biscuits at a sitting. This breed of Cats has singular tastes; I knew one that took very kindly to gin and water, and was rather partial to curry. He also ate peas, greens and broad beans (in moderation).'
Colour forms: The traditional Angora is the blue-eyed white. Many other colours are now acceptable. Because there are two 'Angoras' - the British and the Turkish, it is important to consider their colour forms separately. The GCCF lists the British Angora simply as the 'Angora', and ignores the Turkish Angora. The CFA ignores the British Angora and lists only the Turkish Angora:
GCCF (British) Angora: White; Black; Chocolate; Lilac; Red Self; Cinnamon; Caramel; Fawn; Blue; Cream; Silver Tabby; Red Tabby; Brown Tabby; Tortie; Chocolate Tortie; Lilac Tortie; Cinnamon Tortie; Caramel Tortie; Fawn Tortie; Blue Tortie; Brown Spotted; Black Smoke; Colour-pointed; Black Shaded; Brown Ticked Tabby.
CFA: (Turkish) Angora: White; Black; Blue; Cream; Red; Black Smoke; Blue Smoke; Classic Tabby Pattern; Mackerel Tabby Pattern; Silver Tabby; Red Tabby; Brown Tabby; Blue Tabby; Cream Tabby; Tortie; Calico; Dilute Calico; Blue-Cream; Bi-color.
1898. James, R.K. The Angora Cat: How to Breed, Train and Keep it. James Brothers, Boston.
1911. Benavente y Martinez, J. The Angora Cat.
The Angora Breed Club. Address: 26 Essex Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 6UA, England.
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