Showing posts with label Angora cat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Angora cat. Show all posts

Friday 21 May 2021

Three rival ideas about the history of the Angora cat

The term "Angora cat" is sometimes used interchangeably and rather confusingly with "Turkish Angora cat". The real Turkish Angora cat can be seen in the Ankara Zoo. These are the originals and they do not look like the selectively bred Turkish Angora cats that you see created in America. But they are quite long-haired with dense fur and you wonder why a domestic cat should have evolved into having long hair in a climate in Turkey which does not demand the extra protection of long fur. The same, incidentally, goes for the Persian which is meant to have originated in Persia, now Iran.

Real Turkish Angora cat
Real Turkish Angora cat. Photo: Ankara Zoo. This cat lives in the zoo.

There are three rival theories about the origins of the Angora, the first of which is without any scientific foundation and highly improbable. This is that the breed developed from the wild Pallas's cat better known as the manul. In other words, the theory is that this small wild cat was domesticated and evolved into the current Angora. This is completely impossible and I think we can discount it, in part because the appearance is completely different and ironically the manul has a longer, denser coat because they genuinely do live in very cold climates.

A more acceptable theory is that an old-an established Russian domestic cat developed a long-haired coat as a protection against the intensely cold Russian winter and this breed was taken south to Asia Minor on board commercial trading ships and eventually arrived in Turkey and Iran resulting in a long-haired cat residing in a warm country.

An alternative theory would be that the Angora was taken from the cold mountains of eastern Persia by Islamic invaders in the 15th century. Once they arrived in Turkey the coat evolved into becoming slightly less thick and fluffy than that of their Persian ancestors.

The Turkish Angora is one of the ancient cat breeds and the true and original ones currently reside in Turkey and they are, as mentioned, very different to the selectively bred variety in the artificial world of the American cat fancy. There was quite a lot of trading between countries a thousand years ago and on board the ship there would be domestic cats which is how the original domestic cats from the Middle East (the Fertile Crescent) spread out across the planet.

I have no preference for the two plausible theories mentioned above. It is likely that the cat was introduced into Turkey from the north i.e. Russia or perhaps one of the satellite states of that country before they became satellite states.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Turkish Angora vs Persian Cat

At one time around 1900, the Turkish Angora was similar to the Persian. Looking at photographs of the two cats today (2012) you would not believe it. Selective breeding has separated them completely. The Turkish Angora is quite long and slender (foreign in shape) while the Persian has been developed in the opposite direction, round and cobby.

The Angora as it was called in 1901 (as opposed to "Turkish Angora") differed from the Persian in its coat, head, ears and tail but not in overall conformation (body type). The fur of the Angora was glossier and softer than the fur of the Persian. Angora fur was longer in clusters and it nearly touched the ground. The desired color was white.


The Angora's fur was a desirable commercial product in Turkey and sold to surrounding countries. I am not sure about this. I presume that we are talking about the pelt of the cat in which case they were obviously killed. This seems to be in conflict with this cat being a show cat in the early cat fancy. However, I may have this wrong.

The head of the Angora was less round and more angular than the Persian cat's head. It appears that the ears of the Angora were well tufted, more so than those of the Persian. The advice for breeding the Angora at the time was to cross the cat with imports from Angora (Turkey) thereby ensuring that the cat was purebred. That is an interesting concept today. It is common sense but you would rarely, I think, hear a breeder doing that today. Angora cats in Turkey are probably more purebred than the purebred Turkish Angora bred by breeders in the West.

The modern day (2012) Turkish Angora in Turkey looks like a traditional Persian so we can conclude that there has been no selective breeding and "refinement" of the Turkish Angora in Turkey. It has all happened in the West, mainly the USA probably.

Friday 28 October 2011

What is an angora cat?

Angora cat of 1895. Image in public domain
This is a tricky subject in my opinion. Although today the word "angora" usually applies to the Turkish Angora, a purebred cat that originates in Turkey and which is still found in Turkey.

The word "angora" used to mean a long haired cat. Well that is what I think. You will see old illustrations of cats that were all-white with long hair that look like modern traditional Persian cats that were referred to as "Angora cats". This terminology was used in the early days of the cat fancy, say the late 19th century and early 20th century.

I have a page on the Angora cat so I won't go on about it here!

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