The Original Longhaired and White Cat

The Turkish Angora is widely believed to be the original source of two mutations - that of the dominant color white, and of the longhair gene.  In the 16th Century, there were no longhaired cats in Europe, until about 1520, when the first TAs were imported.  They were brought by Pietro della Valle to Italy, and by Nicolas Claude Febri de Pieresc to France.  Soon after, they became excessively popular in the UK.  However, as the larger Persian-type began to grow in popularity in the UK, the Angora was on the way out of the gene pool. The TA was used to soften the harsh coat of the Persians of the day, with no one bothering to do Angora breedings to continue the lines. As a result, the Angoras were largely lost from the world until the country of Turkey decided to take action.  In 1917 the Turkish government began collecting all the remaining white cats with either blue, odd or amber eyes for the Ankara Zoo, where they would (and to this day do) conduct controlled breeding.  However, the dominant white gene, as well as the polygene for blue and odd eyes, forever exists in the Persian and now other gene pools where Angora breeding stock was used.

The breed is one of legend across the centuries. One story tells of the prophet Muhammed and his beloved TA, who fell asleep on the arm of his robe. Rather than disturb the cat, he had aides cut the arm off his robe so that he could rise. Further is the story that an odd eyed white Turkish Angora will someday be a reincarnation of one of Turkey's venerated leaders, Ataturk. The story also goes that the successor to Ataturk would be bitten on the ankle of an odd eyed white cat - showing the legacy and regard of this wonderful cat in its home nation.
In 1962, Walter and Liesa Fallon Grant brought a breeding pair, Yildiz and Yildicek (Star and Starlet), to the US.  In addition other breeders showed interest in this wonderful, unique cat that had maintained its type and singular personality for centuries.  In 1967 the Grants presented Yildicek and her daughter, Talihli, to CFA, and the breed was accepted in 1970 for Championship status.  It has since been accepted in all major North American registries, as well as most European registries.  The breed is appreciated and well known in Europe, but remains very rare in the United States and Canada.  CH Sevda of Chin Hills, one of the first cats imported, was CFA's first Turkish Angora to achieve the Champion title, but many years would pass before the breed's first Grands. Thankfully, that has changed, and each year we see Regional and National winners in this wonderful breed.

Is there a controversy about the Turkish Angora?

No. If you've been searching you may have found an article or two that are propped up by two individuals, who are sadly seeking to increase their own profit by claiming they have the only "real" Turkish Angoras in the world. They are deliberately misinterpreting several genetic studies, studies that have proven that the lines used by today's American and European breeders are, in fact, "real" Turkish Angoras. By registration rules, all CFA Turkish Angoras must trace their pedigrees back to the zoo - and they do.