Van Kedisi






1. The origin of Van kedisi
2. Van cat as a social construct
3. The Van cat house
4. The official side of the Van cat
5. Racist attitudes of YYÜ towards colored cats
6. Scientific research in Yüzüncü Yıl University
7. Real differences or confirmation biases?


 Introduction

White and odd-eyed cats are regarded as something more than an usual Turkish "street cat". And they have a name – Van cat or Van kedisi breed.  They can be found anywhere in Turkey, but universally believed to be a symbol and cultural heritage of Van city.
The Van kedisi archetype is so much integrated in Turkish society's consciousness today, that it is no longer doubted if such a cat breed actually exists.
This research article investigates Van Kedisi phenomenon from different perspectives, mainly scientific, sociological and ethical.
The research allows us to arrive to the conclusion that Van Kedisi is pseudo-breed, unscientific, however has a strong political and public support, therefor the opposing views and construct criticism is likely to be met with suspicion and even hostility.

Note on terms used:

Van Kedisi – Van cat, associated with Van area and known as a cat with white fur and odd-eyes.
YYÜ (Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi- 100th Year university) – a state run university in Van, responsible for breeding so called Van cats.
Van cat house – the name used for Van cat research center (Van Kedisi Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi). It is a part of YYÜ, so when the text refers to YYÜ, it also means the Van cat research center.
Zahit Ağaoğlu, Fuat Odabaşıoğlu, Fetih Gülyüz, Abdullah Kaya are professors and leading researchers of Van cat house breeding program.



1. The Origin of Van Kedisi

While the breed Turkish Van is a invention of English breeder Laura Lushington1 (see The Turkish Van), Van kedisi origins may not be traced to any particular person.  However it does not mean that Laura Lushington had no impact on how Van cats were viewed in Turkey; When Van cats became known in Europe, this resulted increased awareness about the breed in Turkey as well. Turks "inspired" by the cat breeders in West, started to feel the urge to protect their cat they thought was going to be "extinct". While Western Vans and those in Turkey shared nearly the same name, those cats were seen quite differently: in Turkey as white and odd-eyed cat (Angora?) and in Britain as a cat with auburn markings on its head and tail, long-haired, odd-eyes are irrelevant (Lushington’s preference1).  Only later Turks will adopt Westerner views of Van and Angora cats for differentiation purposes.
It may be a coincidence, but the reports about the Van cats started to appear just after L. Lushington’s visit in Van city2. The propaganda (based on anecdotes) about tourists stealing the white cats from Van3, was born. This served as an explanation for the decline of white cats in the area.  Lushington was accused for making a fortune by importing cats from there4, that was a lie – Lushington did not take any cats from Van1and did not care for the solid white and odd-eyed ones. It is even likely that, Lushington was unaware of Van Kedisi as a white cat breed, because the idea of Van Kedisi had not been yet popular among local people in Van and elsewhere, and could be at best the opinion of some individuals.

Let’s imagine, Van kedisi as a breed was known by local people much earlier than 1960’s, what is the earliest evidence of its existence? 

The Angora cat appears in written sources as early as 15 century 5. Cats from Eastern Anatolia were unquestionably said to be the Angora cats6. However there are a couple of reports from 19 century112,113 mentioning Van cats and suggesting this name for the long-haired (white or colored) cats instead of popular breed "labels" at that time, such as Angora or Persian.
It is worth remembering that terms "Angora" or "Persian" were often used interchangeably for any long-haired cats by European travelers, speculating that these cats might have originated in certain areas of Middle East or Anatolia.
On the other hand, the Van kedisi breed’s history, known solely as a white cat with odd-eyes, does not stretch far. The "historical facts", which cannot be verified or are a pure nonsense (there are variations of these, depending on source) are borrowed from the cat fanciers publications about the Turkish Van breed 7,8 .
Interestingly, odd-eyes were thought as a trait of the white Angora cats10,11. People in Ankara referred their breed as white cats with two different eyes, whereas the length of fur did not matter to them12.  The Ankara Zoo has been breeding these type of cats  since 193913. It becomes obvious that, Van kedisi has an identical description of the Angora cat. It means, The Angora cat, which has much more longer history documented, must have been used as a prototype for Van Kedisi.

Prof. Odabaşıoğlu7 thinks that Van Kedisi came from the Altai mountains area (Central Asia), and Prof. Dr. Zahit Ağaoğlu14 was certain that this was proven by French historian Charles Texier. In the book written by Charles Texier, there is not even one word said about the Van cats, or any cats, but he described the Angora goats and that they were probably were brought to Anatolia from Central Asia by Turkish tribes15. Botanist Aucher Eloi supported this view, but claimed that not only goats, but also long-haired cats from Angora (Ankara) had similar origins16. It seems that the history of the Angora goats was re-used for the long-haired cats. Maybe this is why many believed, that the Angora cats came from Pallas cat, a wildcat found in Central Asia17

In conclusion, the Angora’s identity as a white cat results from the false analogy: white goats and cats are linked to each other and it is assumed, there is some kind of causative factor in Ankara’s environment, that must be responsible for whiteness and long fur in these animals. Samuel Aysoy offers a hypothesis of ’negative ions’18(which said to be responsible for Van kedisi breed development too!19). The link between the goats and cats can not be proven – it is  nothing but imaginary. Van kedisi just borrows a large part of the Angora’s story besides the various falsehoods about the Romans, Hitites and Urartian artifacts.7, 8,9,20,47,82



2. Van cat as a social construct

The social construct is an idea, invented and maintained by the society21. Social constructs (race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, class etc.), appear natural, have been existed for a long time without being explained and questioned.
Cat breeds, as constructed identities for the groups of cats, share a lot of in common with human ‘races’– both are weakly defined, simplistic, changeable and cultural. It would be too simplistic to say that social constructs are only ‘imaginary’. While logically it is true, the constructs have an independent existence which persists regardless if we believe in them or not. Perhaps, Van Kedisi myth would perish in a rational society; However with a support from various institutions, like the Turkish government, media and general public, Van Kedisi will be alive in many minds of Turkish people and thought as a "fact"for generations to come.
Cat breeds are based on single gene traits, such as fur length, color or mutation, whose are chosen by communities or individuals, mostly by people who call themselves ‘breeders’. Emotional aspects, individual taste and aesthetic preferences, opinions became the foundations on which breeds identity is built. While Van Kedisi and a white Angora breeds are made-up, imaginary concepts, they are far from harmless. These concepts allow segregation of cats based solely on fur color; reinforce stereotypical thinking and cause welfare issues, particularly deafness, strongly associated with white fur. Cats, which resemble a particular breed (most of them are pedigreed, but in Turkey this is not a requirement), are worth more compared to cats which said to be "mixed" (the illusion of value). This is why people are willing to pay larger amounts of money for "breed" cats, while trying to sell a "non-breed" would likely be seen as unjustified act.
While cat breeds are made up by humans and only some can be defined genetically, many having a mixed ancestry22, the opposite is true for many natural (random bred) cats. The Anatolian cats are unique from the genetic point of view: the Anatolian cats genetic makeup strongly relates to its native land (Anatolia), separating them from all other cats23.
 
Van kedisi definition:
Solid white. Some bicolour varieties are tolerated, but not prefered7, 24.
Odd- eyed, but same colored eyes are more common, though not favored.
From Van, but are present in many other places in Turkey25
Loves water and swimming24 and those cats which do not, some say29, are not Van cats. However Prof. Dr. Fuat Odabaşıoğlu, author of Van kedisi book7, is not so sure:’ When left in water, they swim, but they are not willing to go into the water on its own’27.

We can conclude, that Van kedisi has a very vague description where main focus goes to the white fur and different colored eyes. Other "facts" defining a breed, are largely acquired from the Turkish Van breed.

Swimming of (white) cats without being forced, is rarely, if ever seen. This "mythological" trait of Van kedisi, a widely believed anecdote, even when no proof exists. Perhaps, the idea of "swimming cats" again can be traced back to the inventor of the Turkish Van breed, Laura Lushington?28

If other breeds or non-breeds can be white and odd-eyed, what else sets Van kedisi apart? What genetics teach us about the fur and eye colors of cats? These and similar questions will never be given a second thought. The lack of understanding of simple color genetics both by general public and YYÜ is evident.

Since some cat breeds in cat fancy have color restrictions, for example, Russian blue and Chartreux are only grey cats, this may seem to be justified to allow for the existence of white cat breed too. It needs to be remembered, that the cat fancy is about hobby breeding and showing, and does not qualify as a scientific institution. As it follows the cat fancy breed standards are allowed to be merely opinions.
The Van Yüzüncü Yil university, which actually does the research on Van cats, is another matter, and must be scrutinized, because this university claims to be a scientific organization, NOT a cat registry. If such an institution or university follows the footsteps of the cat registry and apply its principles, this institution is pseudo-scientific, rather than scientific!


Van kedisi and politics

Van kedisi popularity grows even more when masses (the general public) associate this white cat with famous people or politicians. Bülent Ecevit’s (who was a prime minister of Turkey) wife was given a short-haired Van Kedisi30. R. T. Erdoğan received Van kedisi as a gift from the governor of Van province, but later gave it away to journalist31. Villagers from Van wanted to send their precious Van cat to US president Obama, but the offer was declined32.

The importance of Van Kedisi increased dramatically when nationalists got interested int this cat breed.
Eastern Anatolia, particularly Van city, is an area surrounded by controversy.  Some Armenians and Kurdish nationalists make their claims to this territory. The type of cat, that is thought to be inseparable from this land, is called "Armenian" or "Kurdish" Van cat, discarding the name "Turkish Van", as it is recognized in the cat fancy. So the demand for Van area also means asserting a right for owning a breed of cat, associated with this territory.
There are no historical sources witnessing a significance of white cats in Armenian/Kurdish culture and folklore.
The mention of Van cats appears only after 1960’s. The writings and other artworks33 of Van cats attributed to Armenian- American painter Arshile Gorky (originally from Van) were fabricated34. A cat of Van, with no particular emphasis on coat or eye color is a character of  Armenian novel35, however some interpret it as a political allegory (a massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks36). Media creates and modifies the image of Van Kedisi turning it into political and national issue. Turkish military was blamed for killing 200 Van cats, just because this cat ‘symbolizes Kurdish culture37’. All this story was made-up and should be dismissed as propaganda, as YYÜ said, it is an ‘utter nonsense’.

The nationalists have very little interest, if a breed they acknowledge as part of ethnic heritage, is ‘real’ (has a long history and tradition) or constructed (invented, but not by the ethnic group). The Van cat became a political symbol, therefor defending and confirming its existence is more important than ever. Certainly, cats themselves could not care less about the name and nationality given to them.

The Van cat may also represent the disparity between politics in Turkey: Ankara ("Western" part of Turkey) and Van (East). The dispute over odd-eyed cat logo, chosen by Ankara municipality is one such a notable example. A head of Van chamber, commerce and industry, Zahir Kandaşoğlu felt particularly offended by odd-eyes as a symbol of Ankara city. He concluded that "even those (odd-eyed) cats born in Ankara, still their father is from Van". Ankara municipality then responded:
"By doing a simple Internet search, it’s very easy to learn about their traits and differences of these two breeds(..) Van cats have a short fur and brown spots on head and tail"38. The logo of odd-eyed Angora also hurt the governor of Van Münir Karaloğlu feelings: "If you take Van cat and use it for the logo as Angora cat, it will upset us, Van people and even Van cat will be sad"39.

Certainly, no one is a winner in the fight over the right to own a white odd-eyed cat, an imaginary breed with two different names.

P. 1 White cats as symbols.
1- Van kedisi statue in Van; 2- Odd- eyed white Angora known as Misket is a symbol of Ankara city.
3- Maskot, Van cat with moon shaped head for FİBA 2010 championship. 4. Melih Gökçek, a major of Ankara, dancing with his Angora cats.




3. The Van cat house
P.2 The Van cat house

The Van Kedisi conservation program was build on false premise, that white and odd-eyed cats are exceptional. Before evaluating if such a belief has any biological and scientific support, the authorities rushed to establish the project to increase the number of these white cats.  Anything that follows later, are efforts to continue the existing state of affairs. There is no possibility that the program is going to be abolished soon, as Van kedisi breed relies on blind faith, that is occasionally reinforced by so called "research" and a continuous support from the Turkish media.

After Laura Lushington’s visit in Van, there was a steady increase of reports of Van cats smuggled by foreigners3,4.
 
P.3. ‘Only 6 Van cats are left’, 1974, Milliyet. A writer, Yalçın Kitapçı continues to spread the rumor, that Van cats are massively taken from the city. It is questionable, if there was a large population of white cats in Van at all or those claims result from the authors vivid imagination. Kitapçı states, that  6 ‘rare’ examples of the ‘breed’ had been sheltered in the school building, but caretakers were unable to reverse the declining numbers of these cats.


1982, Ziraat Meslek Lisesi started to house white cats and promised to build ‘a special house’ for them in order to save these cats from ‘mixing’ with other cats, the breed savors  considered ‘impure’40.

A deputy from Van, Fetullah Erbaş spoke about the Van cats in parliamentary meeting (1992)41: ‘Van cats are going to be extinct, because every tourist coming to Van, takes a cat from the city. Currently, finding a Van cat in Van became a serious issue. I ask the ministers to take these cats under protection’. 
Soon after, The Van Cat Research Center (VKAM) in Yüzüncü Yıl University (YYÜ) was established7. However the Van cat house was not built until 19987. The project of Van house was supported and financed by Doğa ve Hayvan Serveler Derneği (Nature and Animal Lovers association), which organized the Angora and Van cat beauty contests in order to collect enough money to build separate houses for the Angora and Van cats42.
The Angora cats in Ankara Zoo had their own house in 1994, but for the Van cats it happened four years later7
Furthermore Doğa ve Hayvan Serveler Derneği felt responsible to make Van kedisi breed well known in the world43. "These cats create a positive image for our country in abroad" - said Betül Kalemli, a wife of Turkish politician and a head of Doğa ve Hayvan Serveler Derneği.

P.4. Doğa ve Hayvan Severler Derneği. The association that helped to build "cat houses" both in Ankara Zoo and Van, gives a gift, a picture of the Van cat, to Environment minister Mustafa Taşar. Interestingly, a cat in the picture is not completely white. This shows that this association might be influenced by Westerner views on Van cats (reference to the Turkish Van breed).


100 Yıl University (YYÜ) propagated Van kedisi breeding program is funded and supported by Turkish government, aiming to ‘research Van Kedisi genetic, morphological, physiological, biological, biochemical characteristics, reproduction, nutrition and diseases’. Also promote Van Kedisi through seminars, scientific conferences, publications, documentaries; regulate the breeding of Van kedisi44.

The other objectives include ‘perpetuating the critical historic traits of the breed’, such as ‘white fur, heterochromatic (blue/yellow) eye structure and deafness.26

Şenler45 was  was first to summarize the biological and behavior characteristics of Van kedisi. Although this work is not available to preview, its unclear why a cat from Felis Catus family would need a separate review on its biology and behavior. This work may mark the beginning of Van cat research by 100 Yıl University (YYÜ).

As for genetics, YYÜ has a limited interest "to establish phylogenetic tree to figure out genetic distance among the Van cats and the Angora cats"26.

YYÜ housed 90 cats in 200346, but in 2013 there were 140 cats47.

 
P.5.Creating illusion of rarity by proposing restrictions and bans.
The attempts to pass legislation, that forbids Van kedisi (more accurately- white cats) to be taken from the country (or even Van city!), so far were not successful.
However, the foreigner media spreads an anecdotal claim, that it is forbidden to take Van cats from Turkey and if someone tries to smuggle one, could be punished by $50,000 fine48. This is false. The law only vaguely states that taking abroad the endangered species (breeds), including cats (white cats?) even those kept as pets, requires a written permission from Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock49.
a)  1992, those involved with Van kedisi project, wished to pass a law that forbids the white cats to be taken from the Van area. Ağaoğlu believes, that Van is the only suitable environment for a Van cat to live and bringing it to somewhere else, would result into several physiological changes, like damage to its body type and fur50.
b) 2013, "Van cats are forbidden to be given as gifts" A. Kaya strongly wishes that Van cats would not leave the city of Van, and people who want to see the Van cats, should come to Van, he says. "Van cats given as gifts, scientifically speaking, make me sad"51. He enthusiastically adds: "I wish all our cats would get pregnant, would give birth to six kittens and those kittens would do the same, and that all our cats would be odd-eyed".
 
P.6. A tendency to anthropomorphize cats.
Cats in Van cat house, are often perceived to be human like, this is why YYÜ authorities have a limited interest in studying feline psychology and behavior; the tendency to anthropomorphize the cats is seen from the choices of toys and various activities, humans, not necessary cats enjoy, such as listening music or eating ice-cream.

Examples of news reports from YYÜ (P.6):
1- ‘Arabesque not pop music helps to ease the depression of Van cats’ but in 2014, A. Kaya explains, they now play various type of music for Van cats to help them relax, about 9 hours daily52. It is often emphasized that Van kedisi is vulnerable, prone to "depression", easily affected by events like earthquake ("Van cat jumps off the 5th floor and breaks its leg"53 ,"Toy therapy for Van cats"54) or just by being left alone55. The other example of human feelings projected into the cats: the black kitten born to white Van kedisi female, in words of YYÜ, was "rejected" by other white cats for just being black. A head of Van cat house, Fetih Gülyüz expected this would happen, after all a black kitten was a "genetic mistake"56.
2 - ‘Van cats will become even whiter' A. Kaya announces that cats will be fed with a "special" diet and a "beautifying" supplement57. Being white does not make cats healthier or improve their well-being, but may be aesthetically pleasant for human eyes. The other thing, if a special diet will have any effect, because bathing, practiced by many show breeders, is so far most effective strategy. Why not to make a pool for these "swimming" cats? At least this would demonstrate how many of them really enjoy swimming.
3 – Ice-cream for Van cats. The government introduced Van kedisi standard58 officially confirming, that eating ice-cream, besides watermelons and a tendency for cleanness, are important characteristics of Van kedisi. "Ice-cream helps for cats to cool down in these hot days. Ice-cream is full of calcium which is needed for healthy development59" – says A. Kaya and poses with Van cats, feeding them with chocolate topped ice-cream.
4 - "Van cats are much happier now: they sleep with a baby doll" . Dr. Karaca asked animal lovers to donate some toys:"Van cat house needs plastic houses and balls54".
 
P.6/a Toys in Van cat house are mostly dolls and stuffed animals.
P.6/b "Van cat wears a Santa Claus hat for the New Year60"


P.7.The Turkish media’s obsession:  odd-eyes.
The headline on the left, says "This is also a Van dog", on the right "Mehmet turned into a Van cat overnight61". From animals to humans, having different colored eyes, Turkish people were and still are bombarded with similar stories for years. All of this aims to keep a constant focus on Van Kedisi.



4. The official side of the Van cat

A Kaya: "Van cats are the future ("vision") of Van city and our university".59 Our people should understand the value of Van cats as a trademark of Van city. 
If people travel to Africa for Safari, to Australia for kangaroos, similarly the symbol of Turkey could be the Van cat".
Van kedisi adds up to the "prestige" of YYÜ. A.Kaya adds, that it is a third popular touristic attraction in Van city62.

If such importance is given to the white cat, the conflict of interest is unavoidable. It shapes the thinking, research and everything YYÜ does. Can we expect the institution, which invested a lot of energy to maintain Van Kedisi myth, suddenly will start to judge their Van kedisi?
 
P.8. "Van cat is a registered trademark of Van" refers to the government standard. A brochure by Van Valiliği (Governorship of Van) calls Van cat "the most beautiful cat" which loves to swim.


The Turkish government sees cats in similar way like livestock breeds or Kangal dogs. Surprisingly, YYÜ authorities who make almost all decisions related to Van Kedisi, were not even asked to participate in creating a standard for their breed. So we have a paradox, when a standard may not be compatible with breeding decisions made by YYÜ!

Some may argue that a standard does not allow any further questioning, since it is officially accepted, a breed must be fully legitimate. But this claim is nothing more than the appeal to authority, a logical fallacy. We know that people in government are actually capable making mistakes as anybody else.
Is a standard of Van Kedisi well researched? Is is based on hard evidence? Or is it more political rather than scientific?

Let’s take a closer look.


The Analysis of Van Kedisi (Turkish Van) standard24,58, 63

Consultant and adviser: Prof. Dr. Fatih Atasoy (specializes in cats, dogs, poultry and is a self proclaimed expert of the Angora cats)
Responsible for breed registration: Agricultural engineer Nermin Aksümer and Tavukçuluk Araştırma Enstitüsü (directorate of poultry research station).

1.      Not exclusive to Van area. 

Location : Especially territory of Lake Van, also it is raised in all over Turkey and some regions of the world.
That’s right, any white cat could be called Van Kedisi "breed".

2.      White cat is pure and beautiful so we have to protect it

Aims of breeding: protect the special curiosity, beauty (tr: süs) and purity of the Van cat.
If purity is seen as a white fur and odd-eyes, then their aim is to breed more of these cats, ignoring with that associated problems, like deafness. Beauty is a subjective term and should not be a main motive of  any conservation project.

3.      What physical descriptions and measurements really mean

The description to body type and measurements corresponds to many natural cats. The white cat they call it as a "Van cat" is still natural cat, not a breed.
Measurements have a very little use, since they will vary depending on cats sex, age and individual's genetic makeup. Sometimes, the selective breeding may reinforce some characteristics to become dominant in one breed. By choosing to breed odd-eyed cats like YYÜ does, does not effect the body type, shape or size.
We will not analyze given measurements, as they can not possibly define a breed. Besides, which studies have been used to make those tables? Where are the sources?

4.      ’Van cat walks with its tail turned upright’

All the time? What exactly it means? The position of cats tail is never static. Just like our faces make various expressions depending on our mood, so cat’s tail does. In the context of social interactions, the "tail up" may express different signals and emotions, not only greeting behavior and friendliness64.
It is a body language, universal for all cats65. It can not be a trait of any cat breed.

5.      Three groups of Van cats according to eye colors

 Eyes: categorized to three varieties: odd-eyed, blue and amber eyed.
The odd-eyed is what makes Van cat a true Van. It is desirable, but not realistic. The occurrence of odd-eyes is unpredictable, more accident than anything else, there will be many more kittens born with blue or amber eyes…
Occasionally colored kittens too, because a white coat is a mask, not a color66. The standard gives no explanation why colored cats still continue to appear in all-white cat breeding.

6.      Someone’s opinion gets in a way

Body: accepted two varieties. Solid white only or with yellow and red markings on the head and tail.
The Van cat house keeps only solid white cats with one small exception: occasionally born colored kittens are discarded, by telling us they are mixed and impure. Talking about yellow/red patched cats, has anyone smells a legacy of Laura Lushington? This was the only accepted color of Turkish Van in Britain’s cat fancy for some time. Today it takes a place in Turkish standard, where colored cats were never seen as "true Vans" by Turkish people. We speculate it is a opinion of standard consultant, Mrs. Atasoy. He has repeated the same thing in the documentary about the Angora cats67.

7.      Some Van kittens may have black spots on their heads.

This is seen in many white cats. These kittens are masking their black color (heterozygous)66. While a white fur covers everything, blacks spots still will be expressed on some white kittens. 

8.      They really like us, humans

Why description of Van cat is so general that would fit almost every cat? Yes, cats like humans if they treat them well. They are active and protect their territory and they hunt, choose partners and so on.  If you have heard about the Felis Catus and its behavior, it becomes obvious that these traits do not make Van cats look special.

The standard written in Turkish sounds like this (language is corrected to resemble original):

Behavioral traits:
They like to live with human families, but get wild if left alone. They are very active. Van cats like to be petted and play games.
They adapt well to various circumstances. Van cats use their paws to check the heat of their food before eating it. Females prefer harmonious relationships. They have a hierarchy in their lives. Dominant cats do not share their territory with other cats. Males are competitive. They know and like to swim.
They are good hunters. Females are selective about the partners for mating.

9.      Loves swimming and watermelons

Special abilities: swimming in water, playing with water, liking people.
Some requirements for breeding: just like most of felines, comparing with other animals, they take cleaning more serious. English version: It is more careful about cleaning compared to other cat breeds.
It has been observed, that Van cats like to eat fruits like melons,  watermelons and cold desserts, like ice-cream. They like heat.
 
 P. 9. Does Van Cat Research Center follows the standard? It seems, they do!


Genetic characteristics:
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Others:
The fur of kittens and young adults is shorter. In adults, in winter fur is longer and in summer- shorter.
Deafness in Van cats is uncommon, only approx. 2-5 %  of cats are deaf.
P.10. Many white cats suffer from deafness. They really do. Maybe it’s time to take it seriously?



Questions:

1. Longhair and short-hair? The difference in fur texture and length in long-haired and short-haired cats is obvious, why standard does NOT mention anything about this? Can they not see any difference? 
2. Purity: What is a pure Van cat? Does white fur and odd-eyes is enough to make it pure? Are colored cats impure because they are not white? Who says so? 
3. Why no sources for claims are provided? Where they got the data, which studies were used? Do they think that being an authority is already an evidence for everything? 
4. Since when opinions and observations became a scientific evidence? See: behavioral traits, tail upwards, swimming and eating watermelons. 
5. Where is the evidence that white cats like swimming more than other cats having different colours of fur? 
6. Where is the evidence that white cats are somehow distinct genetically from the other cats, which are not white? 
7. How can one claim, that Van cats have a very low incidence of deafness, when there is no study about this has ever been done. It is   well documented that all white cats are at risk for being deaf due to white gene. How can one say that Van cats have only 2-5 % deafness rate with such an absolute certainty, when not even one so called Van cat has ever been tested for deafness?



5. Racist attitudes of YYÜ towards colored cats

A cat with a white or tabby or any other colored fur is a fact, we can observe it, it is biological, and there are genes responsible for these fur colors. The way we feel about the white fur is a completely different matter. This actually has nothing to do with a biology of the animal.

First of all, let’s review the basics of color genetics.

What makes a white cat - white?

"The animal is white because it carries a gene that prevents the expression of pigment of any color in the coat, even though the genes themselves are present. This should be emphasize that white cats may have almost any underlying genotype"66

In other words, a white cat hides its colors under its white fur. It could be just about any color phenotype present. Due to masking effect of dominant white, the color can not be seen, but it is still present in cats genes. Today its possible to do a DNA test to find out what color a cat really carries underneath its white fur68.

In rare cases, white fur can be caused by tyrosinase mutations69, known as albino or pointed (Siamese, Burmese), different from dominant white gene. The natural cats in Turkey do not naturally have these mutations.

Although most of cats are heterozygous (W/w+ carry a color allele together with W), there are homozygous white cats with genotype WW (two copies of dominant white gene). Both cats appear solid white and have one or two blue eyes, but about 56 % of heterozygous cats have normal hearing, while all homozygous are partially or completely deaf70. White gene prevents the distribution of melanocytes in the inner ear71, causing deafness.

The white fur is not exclusive to any cat breed; White fur appears in many natural cat populations around the world. The cat breeders have already developed a breed analogous to Van Kedisi- Khao Manee from South Asia, a white cat with odd- eyes.
Although these cat breeders prefer the white cats, they don’t exclude the colored ones:"White is not a color. It is "epistatic", and it masks the true colour of the cat. These colored cats are important, and are used in our breeding programme, being mated back to white Khao Manees".72

In conclusion, most of cats are white because they carry dominant white gene, which masks other colors cat may have.

Where odd-eyes come from?
Odd-eyes known as heterochromia73, is a variation of eye color, frequently occurring in cats with white solid coats and sometimes in cats having ‘white spots’. Heterochromia in cats is caused by dominant white or white spotting gene and is not related to albinism. Albino cats can not have odd-eyes, since they lack the pigment completely. Some dog breeds and horses also prone to tendency to have odd-eyes, but it is rare in humans. Just like cats with blue eyes, odd-eyed ones also often suffer from congenital deafness.
 
P.11.Odd-eyes as a result of white spotting gene. On the right, a cat from YYÜ.
In 2006, Van research center was left with disappointment when only 5 out of 45 kittens turned out odd-eyed. One of odd-eyed kittens, had colour on its head and tail. Z. Ağaoğlu explained: ‘A mother of this kitten before taken to Van cat house, mated with different breeds after this accidental breeding, the acquired genetic traits started to re-appear in her kittens. We have begun to breed pure Van cats at both the domestic and international levels, especially we focused on genetic research74’.

 
P.12. YYÜ uses the wrong definition for odd-eyes. Dyschromatopsia (Diskromatopsi) means an impaired color perception75, not to be confused with heterochromia, which is a correct term for "odd-eyes". The snapshot is from the official YYÜ website.
P. 13. Ancestors from Van or simply a color variation?

If those cats in the picture (P.13), can be white and odd-eyed, is this because they are Van kedisi? Or is their white coat, just one of possible colors they can actually have? Which one is more likely? If so, why so called breeds from Turkey can be only white, but not colored too?
The prevalence of dominant white alleles in many cat populations around the world, contradicts the idea that white fur and odd-eyes are indigenous to Van lake area.



P. 14. Colored cats born to white cats in YYÜ.

"White to white" breeding does not always result to solid white kittens. Breeding white cats give unpredictable results, in contrary to the example of breeding tabby cats with other tabbies, where result will be the same (more tabbies). White kittens may have colored spots on their heads – an expression of underlying genotype66. For example, a cat with black spots is expected to carry a black color.

P.15.a) Allowed (but not desirable) colors of Van cats. The acceptance of these coat colours is due to influence from the Turkish Van breed. Nonetheless, YYÜ still selects against these phenotypes.
P.15.b) "An example of impurity in the breed". A writer of Van kedisi book7, who is also an author of "Veterinary genetics"76, feels prejudiced against tabby and black cats for some unknown reason.

The difference between white and colored cats in Turkey is only one gene, in the same way as a long-haired cat has a gene for the long fur and short-haired lacks of it. The variations of fur types are not seen as different cat breeds in YYÜ, but a similar phenomenon like color makes a huge difference between "purebred" and "mixed". 
It is not possible to justify Van kedisi breeds existence from the biological and genetic point of view.

If Van Kedisi breed is a part of regional culture and folklore, would it not be reasonable to support this breed?

No. First of all, research organizations and universities should inform and teach people the truth, not to try to conform to people’s beliefs and traditions (science must be separate from any irrational beliefs and traditions). YYÜ is capable to convince everyone that colored cats in Van could actually be valuable as much as white ones. In contrary, YYÜ only tries to strengthen a myth of white cat breed even more.
Second, if you make a survey and ask people in Van, if they think that a white cat with odd-eyes is their ‘cultural heritage’, it is  likely many will answer with ‘yes’. To draw any conclusions from this type of questionnaire would be dishonest, because the perception of Van kedisi breed, may not even be rooted in culture, but a belief imprinted int brains of masses by "fifty years of education": opinions of YYÜ and the Turkish media. 

A case of racism 

The attachment of value to white cats (superior and "pure") and excluding other cats as "mixed" (inferior) due to lack of whiteness and odd-eyes, is a classical case of a type of racism. Racism is usually based on superficial, observable set of phenotypic properties, like skin color, for example. These traits itself are neutral, however racism ideology is about hierarchy, and having certain traits can put you to the top of ladder or very bottom. It has real, harmful consequences in human societies, but racism directed towards cats, also affects how people treat and see cats. White cats are given special status, they are kept in special institution (YYÜ) and are encouraged to increase in numbers, while colored cats are largely ignored and seen as burden; neutering them is a mandate77

The officials of Van cat breeding program see the colored cats as undesirable outsiders, at worst, as a threat for Van Kedisi "purity" and existence.
The accidental mating of Van kedisi and colored "street" cat leads to degeneration (dejenerasyon), says Ağaoğlu. What do they mean with degeneration? Degeneration is a theory/belief, well known from writings of Buffon78. Degeneration means a deviation from the norm, acquiring inferior traits: for example, Indo-European, "white race" was seen as a primary, original race and other races "degenerated" from it.
The concept of degeneration, when speaking about the races, gained a negative meaning and is avoided by many biologists due to associations with racist ideology and eugenics.

In this context, the degeneration of Van cats means the loss of white fur and odd-eyes (in this context, it is not a scientific term!). Other fur colors are regarded as foreign and undesirable. This misunderstanding arises from lack of knowledge of colour genetics or perhaps, a way to justify racist beliefs.

Ağaoğlu: "We do not know the ancestry of all our cats, so some of our Van cats we breed, still give a birth to black or brown (tabby) kittens. This means that some generations ago, those cats mated with other cats outside and genetic degeneration still continues through generations. We work on this issue for years, but still we did not eliminate the degeneration completely. Our aim is to prevent degeneration from re-occurring79

How did YYÜ cats got mated with colored street cats if they are not allowed to go outside? If a white female is born from two white parents and bred to the white male, but some of her kittens are colored, is it still due to secret affair with a "stray"? If a female cat got pregnant from colored male in the past, how it is even possible that this event can have an affect on her future litters? Or is it because white cats actually carry genes for colored fur which appear hidden under the white "mask" and perhaps, there is no reason to try to eliminate them. 

It is not hard to understand the frustration of YYÜ.  The  failure to explain why not all cats turn out to be as they expect them to be, steams from unwillingness to understand what the white fur actually is, and that odd-eyes can not be selectively bred111.

Indeed "sometimes two cats with the same characteristics still produce the black kittens. From these litters some kittens turn out odd-eyed. But according to the science, it didn’t match our research. This is why these cats were excluded (from breeding program) to some degree. We are extremely careful about the genetic makeup of the cats we choose to breed. We aim for long-haired, odd-eyed Van cats. All our efforts are going towards this direction".77

"Even when mating two odd-eyed cats, we do not get 100 % odd-eyed kittens, says Dr. Fetih Gülyüz. "From a litter of 3 kittens, maybe only one comes out odd-eyed or maybe not even one. There are no cats which can give birth to only odd-eyed kittens."80

The article, which was an obvious propaganda81, claiming that the Turkish Cypriots were stealing Greek Cypriot "breed", received some limited attention in Turkish media.  YYÜ was also asked to express their opinion on this matter:
"Cyprus "cat war" is a bit political. Those cats are mixed (melez), from unregulated, wrong breeding. This is why I do not believe that a healthy result will come out of these DNA tests. Anyway, we can not rely much on mixed/hybrid cats."82
YYÜ clearly dislikes the colored cats, and any cat which lacks the white fur, is automatically labeled as "impure". Moreover if a cat is mixed, it follows it must be unhealthy as well! So Ağaoğlu thinks that DNA results will prove just that. In contrary, DNA testing of Cyprus cats aimed to find out if Cyprus cats have an unique genetic makeup compared to other natural cat populations (they do not, they are descendants of Anatolian cats). According to Ağaoğlu there is no point for bothering with such an advanced genetic research by studying natural (non-white) cats, since natural cats equal to mixed, which could be interpreted as "worthless".
  
Are Van cats are going to be extinct?
Or better should we ask this question:  
Do white cats really going to be extinct?
Definitely, no. Whereas white colored cats may seem less common than tabbies and bicolored varieties, it is very unlikely that this particular coloring is going to disappear anytime soon. Natural cats tend to have  a lot of variation – white coat is naturally present in these populations to a greater or lesser extent. The prevalence of certain colors is highly effected by sexual selection (for example, if a white male is dominant in one territory, the percentage of white cats in that area will be higher). Neutering causes the decline of human preferred phenotypes83, such as white color and long fur. However even if one day all the white cats vanished from Turkey (highly unlikely!), there would be plenty of them in neighboring areas and in pretty much any country in the world, where domestic cats exist.  

YYÜ on saving Van cats

In the very beginning of Van Kedisi breeding program, YYÜ felt so concerned about Van Kedisi that they carried out the artificial insemination project: "We take the sperm from cats and this is all done with normal microscopes, which are insufficient. We have no electro-ejaculators so  its difficult to extract the sperm. Assistant Hasan became a real expert on this, he performs straightaway a masturbation for cats."73

The death rate of kittens in Van cat house in previous years was about 50-60 %26, 84 Abdullah Kaya explains, when better hygiene measures were taken, the kitten mortality rate dropped until 7 %. In proportion to surviving kittens, the odd-eyed kittens in Van cat house increased significantly, when only kittens with same colored eyes were given to adoption.

The Global warming was to blame for lower birthrates of Van kedisi in 2009, because it "disturbed the balance of hormones"85

Families who lived in Van and owned white cats could apply for a financial support from Van municipality in 200486, however this policy was soon abolished.

YYÜ offers stud services for anyone who wants to breed their white female cats. "We recommend everyone who has a Van cat , to breed it with our purebred males to make sure that kittens will be higher quality and purer."87

YYÜ is planning to count the white cats in Van area and other parts of Turkey with a support of The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey88.



Does Van research center practices selective breeding?

The aim of Van cat Research center is to produce cats with odd-eyes, as many of them as possible. The program eliminates colored cats, heterozygous white cats (which had colored kittens in their litters), because YYÜ wants all cats to be solid white only. This approach is a best way for breeding cats with alarmingly high rate of deafness.
YYÜ prefers to breed not only white cats, but especially those with odd-eyes, believing that these cats can pass this trait on their offsprings77. Unfortunately this breeding strategy is destined to fail, because there is no evidence that selective breeding can have any effect on frequency of heterochromia. Breeding solid white cats certainly will result to some kittens with heterochromia, however its merely a chance and there will be still many kittens with same colored eyes111.

Is breeding for odd-eyes a sort of selective breeding? Bear in mind that cat fanciers do not only breed for fur or eye colors, other characteristics like body type, fur length and even temperament are taken into consideration89. Does YYÜ cares about the type of cats they breed? Probably not, because their cats do not have an uniform phenotype, similarly to natural cats. It is not a bad thing, but signalizes a lack of selection. Temperament? Cats can not be selectively bred for character traits or preferred personalities, but they can be socialized, that has effect on how affectionate and "well-behaved" as a pet cat will be. The socializing 100+ cats is nearly impossible, as to learn about their temperaments and decide accordingly which cats should be bred and which not. A fearful, aggressive cat, even if odd-eyed may not be a good candidate for breeding, as that one which is clearly deaf or a cat carrying a genetic disease. YYÜ does not do any screening for inherited genetic diseases, and most importantly there is no testing for deafness, which is primary problem of white cats. So selective breeding is more than choosing cats with preferred eye color.
If inbreeding rate is high, some genetic diseases may become prevalent in Van cat house. Since by breeding for white fur and odd-eyes not only creates more deaf cats, but increases homozygosity for detrimental to health mutations (which can not be seen from phenotype!), otherwise rare in natural cats, but may take over small, limited populations.

Where YYÜ gets its cats? No information is given, if cats are from Van area or donated from elsewhere and how frequently "fresh stock" comes into the breeding program. YYÜ is not choosy about the white cats, even if they are from the natural cat population (from the street), because they believe that a white cat is not a part of that population, somehow is able "isolate itself" from mixed cats, no matter how ridiculous it may sound.
YYÜ does not argue that other cities in Turkey also have "Van cats", recognized only by white fur and odd-eyes. 
It made clear that such a simple characteristic, like white fur (and odd-eyes) are sufficient enough for "differentiating" Van kedisi from all other cats in Turkey. White cats are never seen as a part of natural cat population, although they are undoubtedly exactly the same cats, which happened to have a white "masking" gene.66

A science based program should try to compare the genetics (not fur, eye colors!) of both natural cats and those chosen to be become a "breed" Van kedisi, before establishing any breeding program. A program based on belief, does not have to research anything, but then it can be NOT qualified as scientific in any possible way.


6. Scientific research in Yüzüncü Yıl University

We used to hear from TV programs to newspapers, from professors to ordinary people saying "science", "scientific", "scientists say","research proves". Is everything science if we call it that way? Of course, not. There is a bad (pseudoscience) and a good science. But it is not easy to spot which is which! You have to go deeper into exhausting analysis, reading boring papers no one reads, and expect to find your answer that way. Maybe do an experiment yourself or develop a hypothesis etc. Who has time and understanding for these type of things nowadays? This is why we are here, to give you a detailed review about the scientific research concerning the Van cats.
Many people believe that Van cat breeding program is scientific. If you have ever seen any scientific publication about the Van cats, they probably appear so complicated and flawless because you can not understand what is written there.
P.17. Health and reproduction studies done on Van kedisi.

We will not analyze health and reproduction related studies (P.17). Why? They can not offer anything for Van Kedisi topic, because they are not breed specific. Do not be fooled by a long list: You could take any group of cats (chosen by colour etc.) and call them with chosen name and make these type of studies easily. Having a large colony of cats at your university, makes a research very convenient. There is no need to look for participants for an experiment, you get an idea for the study and you have your sample ready right here.
However it is truth that inbred/related cats may become homozygous for deleterious genes and may suffer from particular health problems more than cats not bred by humans. Yet this would be a fault of a breeder and does not show that white cats are different from non-white cats, just because a white cat group representing a "breed" is prone to particular diseases.

 
P.18. Studies that compare the Angora to Van cats.


Scientific studies trying to prove Van and Angora cats differ (biologically) by giving an impression that individual differences are breed related:

2010 – Macun, Arıkan et al., Ankara ve Van Kedilerinin Gebelik ve Laktasyon Biyokimyasal Parametrelerinin Karşılaştırılması (Erciyes Üniv) Comparison of some Biochemical Parameters of the Gestation and Lactation Periods of the Angora and Van Cats
Sampled 3 so called Angora and 4 Van cats from Kirrikale. With such a  tiny sample and forgetfulness that each cat is individual, picked up some differences in blood chemistry they believed were breed related. They were not.

2011 – Macun, Erat, Arıkan, Comparison of prenatal development of Turkish Angora and Van cats (Veterinarski arhiv)
The paper says:  "Information about the prenatal development of Angora and Van cats is lacking". Because it makes no sense, at the end to find out results are similar and you wasted your precious time to  answer something you have already knew.
Conclusion: The prenatal development of the Angora and Van cats were also found to be similar in this study. What do they expect? These cats belong to the same species (Felis Catus).

Phenotype studies that suffer from bad design, fail to find any significant differences:

2010 – Erat, Arıkan, Body Mass Index and Different Body Measurements of Turkish Angora and Van Cats in Two Different Locations (Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances)

20 Cats the Ankara Zoo and 16 from Kirikkale University. Their ages ranged from 1-8 years. "Body weights of both breeds were statistically similar", but "The Turkish Van cats had higher BMI (Body Mass İndex) than the Turkish Angora cats".
1-8 years. Cats about 1 year old do not reach the full maturity, so if a group of cats by accident has a lot of more these young cats and females (as they are smaller than males), it will give a wrong impression that one group or a breed as they see it, is somewhat different. It is not. It is just a random correlation, having no statistical significance. Studying "eye color effects" on body type is another absurd, perhaps only seen in Turkey. Once again the eye colour could not be linked to the body measurements.

P.19. The Ankara Zoo houses only short-haired Van cats, a cat pictured as "Van" is a male (it has jowls that make face appear round) and the other one is female. The picture is from the study90 S. Erat included both "breeds" for estimating body weight in domestic cats, without comparing them.


2012 – Erat, Arıkan, The hair characteristics of Turkish Angora and Van cats (Turk J Vet Anim Sci)
41 cats sampled came from the Ankara Zoo. 26 Angoras and 15 Vans, not mentioned but we know the Zoo keeps only the short-hair cats as Vans.
It’s important to note, that not even one word is said about the long and short fur. The authors thought that it is not important, even the length of fur itself is a big difference. Instead they try to draw nonexistent links between eye color and fur type!

Since the fur of long-haired and short-haired cats have different characteristics, the study like this, which includes all the cats to the same category can not offer any meaningful results.
They found out that season had an effect on cats fur - obvious and expected observation. And why do fur of cats get compared to that of sheep?

Despite of lack of differences between studied groups, "It is, therefore, recommended that strict pure-breeding within the breeds should be practiced along with selection programs". It begs a question, how can a strict pure-breeding be practiced, if we are unable to distinguish Vans from the Angora cats?

This paper suggests, that the origin of Van and Angoras might be similar:
2003 - Blood Type A and B Frequencies in Turkish Van and Angora Cats in Turkey

This study has a better way of sampling because 85 Van and 28 Angora cats come from multiple sources: Ankara, Kırrıkale universities, Van cat house, The Ankara Zoo, from veterinary clinics and cat owners (called as cat fanciers in Turkey? Who are they?) The Angora cats were underrepresented (3 times less), maybe because the volunteers supplying samples were biased and recognized most of white cats as Vans rather than Angoras, especially if those cats were odd-eyed. After all there are no reliable guidelines, how to tell the Angora from Vans so the choice of breed one chooses to name its cat, remains subjective.

"The first aim (…) was to determine the frequency of blood types of the Turkish Angora and Van cats, and correlate the blood type with the gender and colour of the eyes".
As expected, no correlation was found.

The blood type B was most common in both "breeds" and authors explained that is because cats were"similar":
 "Blood type B in Turkish Van and Angora cats was higher compared with the results of large studies worldwide. Blood type incompatibilities were likely to occur in both Van and Angora cats at similar rate.
Presence of similarly high prevalence of type B blood in both pedigree cats indicate that the origin of Turkish Van and Angora cats might be the similar".
"Some have suggested that the Turkish Van is a variety of the Angora breed".

The type B blood is prevalent in cats from Greece too (Mylonakis et al., 2001)" which may be explained through interbreeding involving (..) Angoras and Vans as Greece is neighbouring countries to Turkey."

Genetic studies
effected by research and sampling biases.

2011 - Altunok, Yüksek, Ağaoğlu et al., Genetic Structure and Variation of Van Cats (Biochem Genet) V. Altunok

Sampled: 80 Van cats from the Van Cat House, from veterinarians: 7 Turkish Angora, 6 Persian, 5 Siamese, 2 Bombay, and 12 Turkish Tekir.

It is more a biochemical study rather than genetic; While Microsatellites, SNP’s, MitDna etc. are commonly used as markers in genetic population studies, this research uses enzymes, which have a limited variation91.

The design of study matters, because it affects the outcome. The number of samples is unbalanced, so many Van cats, related individuals were not excluded. This is problematic, because related cats will form a tight cluster and create an illusion of separate group, giving inaccurate results.
The other cats are in too small numbers. And why samples taken from veterinarians only? It is not hard to test the cats from the Ankara Zoo, for example.

Maybe one can recognize a Persian or a Siamese, but these cats, especially Persians could be admixed with natural cats. It is common in Turkey to breed white Angora cats to Persians. The study contains only a few samples of these cats, at least researchers could choose pedigreed cats rather than veterinarian identified breeds.

Where did they get Bombay cats from?
Bombay must be just about any black cat, since nobody in Turkey breeds them (relatively unpopular breed in most of countries). The author of paper does not even know anything about the Bombay breed, saying "Bombay cats (..) originated in Burma". Not true, it is a man made hybrid of Burmese (Siamese family) and European cats.

Tekir which means tabby, became synonymous with mixed (melez) cats. Why would the researchers assume that natural cats are mixed with breeds? If white cats are the Angoras or Vans, a non-white cat is assumed to be either mixed or some kind of exotic breed. It seems just an impossible scenario for Altunok and others, that natural cat may not be mixed with anything and that the white "breeds" originated from them.
 
P. 20. Flawed design, so is the result.
Persian looked related to Vans and Angoras (P.20), there is possibility they sampled Persians mixed with Turkish cats. The pedigreed Persians have European ancestry and are not related to Turkish cats22, 23, 92, Siamese and Bombay cats appear to be the most distinct cats of the study. The black cats were most distinct – conclusion based on…. 2 cats? Seriously?!

How conclusions can be drawn from such a small sample? It is just unthinkable.

"Since pedigree records are not kept for cats in Turkey, perhaps Turkish cats are quite mixed and therefore exhibit generally high heterozygosity in Turkey. Van cats may be relatively isolated among Turkish cats and therefore exhibit relatively low heterozygosity."

Natural cats tend to be heterozygous and they have a large gene pool,as well as the genetic variation. Cat breeds may be heterozygous too. Furthermore exhibiting heterozygosity does not equal to be mixed with other cat breeds! 

Van cats appear isolated because they have the enormous sample and there are many related cats in it, no randomness in sample collection. So this is a result you get – more confusion and no credibility. The study was not reviewed since it contains an error:"dischromatopsy", colour blindness, mistaken for odd-eyes.

"This result is noteworthy and supports the conclusion that Van cats are distinct from Persian and Turkish Angora cats, which were believed to be related to Van cats".

The result is statistically worthless and can not support the conclusion due to flawed methodology. Next time they should exclude related individuals, personal biases and get an equal sample size for other cats.


Eroğlu, 2007, Phd Thesis: Investigation of genetic structure of various cat breeds by using microsatellites in Turkey
The sources for breed related information ("Araştırmaya konu olan kedi ırklar" page: 12-18) come from the Turkish Internet websites. Why supposedly scientific publication uses anonymous Internet sites as its sources? It is obvious, Eroğlu gave a very little effort for researching the cat breeds.
 
P. 21. Tekin Eroğlu does not know what the Angoras in his country look like, and picks a popular image from the  Internet  (likely from USA breeder, author and source can not be identified). The other picture of a short-haired male cat with jowls, chosen to emphasize roundness of the Van cat, belongs to Kerem D. Çorlu from Tekirdağ.

Just like the study done 4 years later (Altunok et al., 2011), Eroğlu’s thesis displays a typical ignorance when comes to colored cats – tabby colored cats equal to cats mixed with breeds, a word "random bred" used by other researchers to describe, as we call the natural cats, is simply not found in Eroğlu and Altunok’s vocabulary. It is not clear  according to which criterion "tabby" cats were chosen.
Geneticists studying feline populations will not agree with Altunok and Eroğlu views on natural cats, because the natural cats are not mixed with breeds, it is the other way around93. Some of them still may be related to their country of origin. Unless particular group of cats underwent very strict human selection, it is very unlikely that white cats (called as Angora or Van) differ genetically from other natural Turkish cats.

Eroğlu uses samples of  56 cats came from Van cat house, 6 Van, 6 Angora, 6 Siamese, 6 Iranian and 18 tabbies (tekir) taken from "special" and government associated individuals (?). 10 microsatellite loci was used to characterize the cat breeds in this study.

Once again inbred or related Van university stock dominates and other cats are underrepresented. However poor sampling methodology does not prevent Eroğlu from making vast generalizations.
P. 22.  "In FCA, it is observed that Persian, Siamese, Turkish Van and Turkish Angora cats were totally separated to create their own groups".

Taking in consideration how small sample of the Angora cats was (could be relatives!), at least one cat ends up in Van grouping and tekir ("mixed") cats overlap with Van kedisi! Not "totally" separate but quite related! (see P.22) A few Persians and Siamese form their own groupings and one "tekir" relates to Siamese, which after all could be admixed with natural cats. Strict pedigree breeding of any cats in Turkey is rarely practiced and Siamese and Persians in this study are pets (not pedigreed).

P. 23. Figure 2) Neighbour joining tree: Van and Angora closely relate to each other and they both relate to "Tekir", Persians (European) cluster with Siamese (Asian).  Persian and Siamese breeds originated from very different natural cat populations, but in Turkey they might completely different from the pedigreed versions as they are in Western countries. Cat breeds in Turkey could be mixed with each other in addition to the Turkish cats.
P. 23. Figure 3) Siamese and Persians are shown as separate from Turkish breeds, "tekir" is somewhere in between the Van and Angora, which form one group.

"It could be said that Tekir cats have some relation to Persian cats, because "tekir" cats are not pure race and affected by other breeds" (p. 50).
If "Tekir" is a natural Turkish cat, then it is plausible that breeds are influenced by "tekir" rather than natural cats are mixed with breeds!


Suggestions for future researchers :

Ø  Deafness – electrodiagnostic tests, estimated rate of deafness in Van cat house, what need to be done to prevent it.
Ø  Population genetics: comparison of  Van kedisi to the Ankara Zoo cats, foreign cat breeds (Turkish Van and others - all pedigreed!), natural cats from Turkey (various locations) and other countries.
Ø  Behavioral, for example "swimming experiment". YYÜ repeats an extraordinary claim, that Van kedisi is the only breed that swims, this needs to be tested, scientifically!
Ø  Do not waste time looking for implausible links between eye colour and various conditions, such as, trace elements in blood95 and phenotypes, like body type94 and fur96
Ø  Do not use unscientific terms like: "pure-bred", Tekir (tabby color), "mixed".
Ø  Be careful what sources you are using. Look for scientific publications and avoid anecdotal information, Internet websites and cat fancier’s opinions. If literature on subject can not be found, create your own hypotheses and explanations.
Ø  Do not just blindly copy everything you find, do some research and use your critical thinking skills to separate useful information from nonsense.
Ø  Do not favor the evidence that supports your beliefs - be aware of your own biases and try to avoid them. Acknowledge limits and weaknesses of your research. This is the science we expect from you!


Deafness and cat welfare

Animal activists and welfare groups should be particularly concerned about the inherited deafness which results from breeding the white cats. 
Deafness is a disability. It is irresponsible and unethical to breed more deaf cats. Inherited deafness can and should be prevented or at least minimized.

YYÜ has never done a study about deafness in white cats. Prof.Odabaşıoğlu said: "They use to say which part of Van cats are deaf, but there is no evidence in our hands to support it . Deafness is possible, but the rate of deafness in other cats is also unknown.  If it happens in all or not and why, we do not know. There is no one doing a research on this"27
"The rate of deafness in Angora cats is very high. Not an issue in Van cats"50. This is true for the white cats kept in Ankara Zoo97 but it does not apply for colored cats. How can this be different for Van kedisi?

The importance of this issue is dismissed by telling to public that Van cats are not affected by deafness and it occurs only in 2-3 % of cats. Even governmental standard contains this anecdotal statement58. If deafness in white cats is a problem of small minority, so why even look for solutions?
If YYÜ thinks that ignoring the deafness problem, it will go away on its own, then they are doing it wrong. It’s simply not enough to deny that many Van Kedisi are deaf. Somethings must be done about it. 

While YYÜ wants more white cats that would populate Van area at any cost, the German government did the exact opposite: they placed a ban on breeding white cats98, because they see deafness as a serious problem. Prof. Odabaşıoğlu expressed his disapproval of German law, which at the time was pending, by saying its "commercial, not scientific"and promised to prove them wrong by researching deafness in Van cats99. Unfortunately the promise was not kept.

Breeding of white cats is not an innocent act that can be justified in sake of beauty, it must be remembered that it has a serious side effect – deafness. It should not be underestimated just because YYÜ chooses to ignore it. It is a welfare issue that also questions the ethics of breeding in Van cat house.




7. Real differences or confirmation biases?

Check your sources

Many people in Turkey may agree that Angora and Van cats in Turkey are very similar to each other.  It is very hard to distinguish one from another. However the desire to pick up some differences is very strong. Today the Angora and Van cats identities are mixture of Angoras prototype as a white cat with odd-eyes and Western cat fanciers Vans and Angoras. How people perceive and differentiate those two breeds depends on the source of information they rely upon.
The Internet is the most influential source when it comes to the native cat breeds, but also the least accurate. In fact, most of information you read about Turkish breeds is plain wrong, repetitive and never researched.
The first few Internet sites became a foundation for all the Turkish content about cats today. The articles about Angora and Van are either exact copies or slightly modificated of pet.gen.tr (2002)100, online pet shop, Kedigen.com (2002)101, first popular site about cats  and Juen.com102, a veterinary clinic page (2003).
pet.gen.tr introduces to cat fancier versions of Van and Angora, citing as references foreigner cat breed books100. The biggest harm is done with article on tabby cats (tekir kedisi) where author claims that tabby cats are mixed.
Kedigen.com teaches its readers about native cats from cat fancy point of view as well101. Van kedisi article uses knowledge of YYÜ, however photos in article are from the Turkish Van breed. The differences between Angora and Van cats are described. Prof. Fatih Atasoy repeated nearly the same sentences in documentary ‘Ankaranın Yumağı’67:
‘Van cats eyes are almond shaped and amber, Angora’s round and odd-eyed. Van cat’s face more round and Angora’s narrow. Van cat has yellow markings on head and tail and Angora generally white. Van cat’s fur is shorter than that of Angoras’.
Notice that descriptions although widely repeated and copied, are contradictory, because Van kedisi is only accepted as solid white cat with odd-eyes, but in that set of differences it talks about the Angora! The other described generalizations will be found in both ‘breeds’ depending on which cats are chosen for comparison: some cats have rounder eyes, male cats have jowls, some are bigger, some are smaller etc. People have a hard time to accept that there is  a lot of variety in natural cats. Individual differences of cats can not be judged as ‘breed differences’.

Juen.com102 is a mixed bag with influence from Kedigen.com101. It is a source of false claim, that Pietro Della Vella established the association for the Angora cats in Italy, known as Club Angora Turco Pietro Della Valle, in reality, insignificant and recent breeders club (WCF, since 2001).

Internet websites aren’t the only source of misleading information. Foreigner written books, pet magazines all carry similar uncritical writyings, mostly unsourced and spiced up with personal stories. If you read a few of them, you know them all!
Cat breeds can be passed as type of ‘science’. Tübitak published science magazine, where not only adults103 but children104 too, are educated about Turkish breeds, featuring easy to read cat fancy descriptions and photographs of Vans and Angoras, which are not from Turkey anyway!
Since the Turkish government sees Van kedisi as a precious cultural and national symbol, Van kedisi images and written examples with odd-eyed cats are included in many government textbooks. Van kedisi unexpectedly emerges in textbooks about logic114, biology115, science and technology116,117. Turkish children are indoctrinated with persistent dogma that white and odd-eyed cats are valuable, ‘pure’ and need to be protected and non-white cats only deserve a pity for being homeless118
Sometimes Van Kedisi may appear in lessons and lectures about biology and genetics. Geneticist Dr. Yosun Mater thinks that cat breeds are the same as natural populations and even thru genetic differences between Angoras and Vans are not proven: ‘Populations have a lot of different genetic variants, it accumulates them when goes through evolution. DNA tests show that natural populations contain numerous varieties. Cat populations can be given as an example. All are cats, but Angora cats are different, Van cats different, Himalayan cats different and so on105’. Cat breeds, which are weakly defined, should have no place in teaching biology or genetics, especially those based on nothing else but single trait like fur colour!

Although Turkish Van breed received wider acceptance, even government standard mentions ‘yellow spots’, YYÜ still opposes a breeding of any colored cats. Prof. Ataman Güre, who worked 6 years in YYÜ, thinks that Angora and Van cats are ‘separate groups of albino cats’, and does not believe that colored patches on fur as seen in Turkish Van breed is a feature of Van Kedisi106. Doç Dr. Orhan Yılmaz, 15 years later after first documentary about Van cats, reconfirms A. Güre’s claim, that Van cats are indeed albino cats and for that reason they shouldn’t be under sun for long periods of time107.

The vague descriptions about Van and Angora cats, especially when attempts are made to match them with cat fanciers breeds, often contradict each other.

Why can’t I trust what cat registries say about the Van cats?

The cat registries are not a good source for any academic information about the natural cats, in their own words "natural breeds". They can have a say about the breeding and their own created breeds, however when it comes to cats which are indigenous to certain geographical area and are not bred by humans, cat fanciers knowledge is limited only to the cats that were used to create their version of natural breed, which may and often does not match to the cat found in its natural form. The cat breed histories are based on myths and stories and don’t have to be verified by any credible sources, as for the fact, such sources would be impossible to find, since large part of breeds history is full of false and imaginary assertions. The cat registries allow opinions of people who work on a breed; Since cat registries don’t even attempt to be scientific, they can’t offer any credible and useful information for the serious research.
The Turkish breeds – Angora and Van, developed by Western cat fanciers, can not be matched to the natural white cats from Turkey. It’s true the Angora cat in USA or Europe looks distinctively different from the Turkish Van. This is because of breeding practices, since the Angora breed is descended from European cats (Persians)22,23 and likely admixed with Siamese and Orientals108 to give it ‘slender, elegant’ signature look. The Turkish Van is refined for larger stockier body. Theses breeds are cat fanciers interpretations of how they want to see their Van and Angoras, in opposite to how natural cats really vary and look like in Turkey. Vans and Angoras in Turkey should not be judged according to the criterions of man made breeds and their standards.


What about confirmation biases?

When eye and fur colours are not enough for distinguishing Vans from the Angoras, there will be always someone claiming that there are clear differences in body, eye and face shape. This is where Western cat fanciers standards start to play an important role, despite of the lack of exaggerated differences in natural cats in comparison to man made breeds.

In the Angora cat documentary the Angoras and Vans are differentiated by ‘shape of the face’.  It shows one female cat with pointed chin and puts aside to so called ‘Van cats’ and concludes ‘Angora’s face is much slimmer, more elegant’ and the body is ‘more delicately built’109. The documentary makers aren’t the only ones guilty for being biased. Anyone who tries to make distinctions between those two  ‘breeds’ is prone to exactly same biases. When systematical experiment is done to compare these cats, the differences turn out statistically insignificant94.
P. 24. Confirmation biases: seeing what we want to see

Confirmation biases110: If you believe that Angora cats have narrower face and Van cats rounder, you will look for examples that confirm your belief. There will be many cats which won’t match your expectation, but you will choose to ignore those ‘anomalies’ and will remember your hints only.
 
P.25. Angora or Van?
 Can you identify cats from the Van cat house and those from the Ankara Zoo (P.25)? They are far more similar than you think. 

 Answers are at the end of article.


 
Sources

1. Lushington, Laura; The Swimming Cats of Van” (1963), Animals 1 (17) magazine, 24–27.
2. Asaf Ucar, 1963, 21 June, Miliyet, page 1, Van kedisi Seferi.
3. Yalçın Kitapçı,  1967, March 3, Milliyet, page 3, Van kedisinin nesli  tükeniyor.
4. Yalçın Kitapçı, 1969, November 5, Milliyet, page 4, Van Kedisi nesli tükeniyor
5. Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc letter, 1631, January 31, Lettres inédites de M. de Peiresc.
6. Lottin de la Val ‘’Sur le chat d'Angora’’ (1857), The Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers
7. Odabasioglu, Ates; Van kedisi; Yüzüncü Yil Üniversitesi, 2000
page 6: uses claims from the Turkish Van breeders website. About origin: ‘Yapılan araştırmalara göre Van kedilerinin anavatanı, Altay dağlarının eteklerinde olan Buhtamara şehirdir’.
8. Deborah Ch. Hayes, 1994, Turkish Vans rediscovered: A living history, Pairodocs Cattery, Cat Fanciers Almanac, vol 11, October, no.6
9. Deborah Ch. Hayes, www.hayes-ent.com/pairodocs/standard.htm (It appears that one Roman legion adopted the image as their battle standard as it is found on a Roman shield, dated AD 75-387, which is now found in the Louver Museum, Paris
10. Richard Lydekker, 1893, The royal natural history
11. Samuel Aysoy, 1954, Değişik milletler tarihlerinde kedi, Ankara Üniversitesi, Cilt: 1, Sayı: 3.4, sayfa: 40-66, doi: 10.1501/Vetfak_0000002366
12. Johnson, 1967, Cat fancier in Turkey, CFA Yearbook, page 299.
13. Özçetin, 2007, Ankara kedilerinde diş yapi, tüy, büyüme, gelişme ve üreme özellikleri üzerine araştirmalar, Ph.D thesis.
He cites 1999 meeting in Ankara with Şemsettinoğlu H. (director of the Ankara Zoo 1952 – 1985), however aknowledges that the exact date is not well documented.
14. The “Union of Historical Towns’ a meeting in Van, 2003, July 10, Tarihi Kentler Birliği, Van Buluşması: “Kültür Havzası ve Tarihi Kentlerde Yaşamın Değeri”, summarised in their website. http://www.tarihikentlerbirligi.org/tarihi-kentler-birligi-van-bulusmasi-ii-gun
Z. Ağaoğlu : Van kedileri ile ilgili olarak Charles Texier’in yaptığı araştırmalarda bu kedinin anavatanı Altay dağlarının etekleri ve Buhtarma şehri olarak gösterilmektedir.
15. Charles Texier, 1862, Asie Mineure : description géographique, historique et archéologique des provinces et des villes de la Chersonnèse, Les chèvres Angora.
16. Aucher-Eloy, Relations de voyages en Orient, de 1830 à 1838, published in 1843; p. 68-69.
17. Charles Darwin, 1868, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, New York :Orange Judd & Co.
‘The large Angora or Persian cat is the most distinct in structure and habits of all the domestic breeds; and is believed by Pallas, but on no distinct evidence, to be descended from the F. manul of middle Asia’.
18. Samuel Aysoy, 1955, Hava Iyonizasyonu, bronşiyal asthm, mağara tedavisi, Ankara Üniversitesi , Cilt: 2 Sayı: 1.2 Sayfa: 053-063, doi: 10.1501/Vetfak_0000002347
19. Nuriye Akman, Sabah newspaper, 1995, May 28, interview with Zahid Ağaoğlu; Van’ın ilahı yok oluyor!
Zahid Ağaoğlu:Tüy ve gözlerinin bu hale gelişinde Van'ın ekolojik yapısı, rakımı, havasının negatif elektrik yüklü olmasının payı olmuştur’.
Sevgi görmezlerse tüylerinin ucunda çatallaşma başlar ve tüyler deforme olur’.
‘1993'te DPT ve TÜBİTAK'a suni tohumlama ile Van kedisini çoğaltma projesini verdik. Yani tüp kedi uygulaması. Sperm alıyoruz kedilerden.
Biz çalışmalarımızı normal mikroskopla yapıyoruz. Yeterli olmuyor. Sperm, normalde elektroenjekülatörle alınır. Bu cihaz bizde yok, spermi almakta zorluk çekiyoruz. Asistanım Hasan o işte bayağı uzmanlaştı, resmen kedilere mastürbasyon yaptırıyor’.
20. Anne Helgren, The Remarkable Swimming Cat, 2000, October Cats magazine, p.  43.
21. Berger and Luckmann , 1967, The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Anchor
22. Lyons, Kurushima, Froenicke, Lipinski, Gandolfi (2012), Genetic identification of domestic cat breeds and populations, US patent, WO2012158772 A1.
23. Kurushima et al., 2012, Variation of cats under domestication: genetic assignment of domestic cats to breeds and worldwide random-bred populations" Animal Genetics. The Turkish Angora breed was reconstituted from the Persian (European) pedigree post-World Wars, and their genetic diversity has recently been supplemented via outcrossing to Turkish random-bred cats’.
24. Tarımsal Araştırmalar Genel Müdürlüğü  (TAGEM), Turkiye Yerli Hayvanlar Genenetic Kaynaklar, 2009, Tarim ve köyişleri bakanliği. ‘Vücudun tamamı beyaz tüylü ya da baş, sırt, bacak, kulak ve kuyrukta kızıl-sarı lekeliler olmak üzere iki ayrı tipi bulunur’ page 95. English version ‘Domestic Animal Genetic Resources’ (2011)
25. Milliyet, 1990, July 22, page 12. Van Kedisi kurtaralım; according to surveys by Van 100 Yıl university, it was counted in total 86 ‘Van cats’ living in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bolu, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Erzincan, Diyarbakır, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Zonguldak and Antalya .
26. Hasan Koyun, 2008, November, 26-28, Endangered endemic species of lake Van; European Science Foundation (ESF) Genetic diversity, selection and adaptation in wildlife and livestock- molecular approaches workshop book, p.14, Salzburg, Austria. http://www.nas.boku.ac.at/fileadmin/_/H93/H932-NUWI/Kurse-Workshops-Tagungen/ESF-Workshop/Session1/Koyun.pdf ‘one of two swimming cats in Felicia world’
27. Elif Berköz, Milliyet, 2005, 31 July, Birbirleriyle çiftleştirildikleri için soyları hızla tükeniyor.
Prof. Dr. Fuat Odabaşıoğlu on swimming: ‘Van kedisi üzerine yaptığımız araştırmada Van kedisinin yüzmeyi sevip sevmediği konusunda tereddütlüyüm. Suya bırakınca yüzüyor ama özellikle suya girmek gibi bir isteği yok’.
On deafness: ‘Van kedilerinin bir kısmının sağır olduğu söyleniyor ama bununla ilgili ele gelir bir kanıt yok. Sağırlık olabilir ama diğer kedilerdeki oranı bilen yok. Bu sağırlığın nedenini, hepsinde olup olmadığını bilmiyoruz. Bunları araştıran olmamış şu ana kadar’.
28. Elisa Jordan, 2006,Van-ity fair by, Cat fancy magazine, June, p. 22. When Lushington told the pond story, "some reporter in the audience said 'Let's cali them the swimming cats!' One of the women said, 'Great idea.' So that's how it happened, and it keeps getting repeated," Marcus says. "They hate being bathed. You have to bathe them to show them, and it's a fight. They don't love it."
29. Milliyet, 1996, January, 23, page 6. Van Kedisi de TSE’li oluyor.
30. Milliyet, 1973, October 6, page 1, Kedi hediye ettiler.
31. Hasan Tüfekçi, 2005, April 8. Hürriyet. ‘Cansu’ alarmı.
32. Osman Bekleyen, Gülay Özek DHA, 2009, April 7, Hürriyet
 ‘Kediye ‘Maviş’ adını vererek kimliğini çıkarıp aşılarını yaptırdık. Ancak, yine konsolosluk aracılığıyla ABD Başkanı Obama'nın hediye kabul etmediğini söylediler. Ama biz yine de bu kediye gereken özeni gösteriyoruz. İsterse göndereceğiz’.
33. Karlen Mooradian, 1980, The many worlds of Arshile Gorky, Gilgamesh Press, p. 84, 87.
34. Hayden Herrera, 2003, Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, page 638-639.
35. Vrtanes Papazyan, 1988, Vana Katu. Publishing House “Arevik”, Yerevan
36. 2009, July 17, Armenian Vans - Real "Aristocrats", Tour Armenia. TACentral.com 
37. Amberin Zaman, 2000, October 6, German Group Pounces on Kurdish Cat 'Eradication, Los Angeles Times.
38. Gülay Özek, Murat Çağlar, DHA, 2010 June 22, Ankara ile Van arasında ‘kedi' açıklaması yarışı, Milliyet.
Zahir Kandaşoğlu: ’O kediler Ankara'da doğmuş olsalar bile, babaları Van Kedisi'dir’.
Ankara Büyükşehir Belediyesi : ‘İnternete girildiğinde, bu iki kedinin özellikleri sorulduğunda Ankara ve Van kedilerinin özellikleri ve farklılıkları çok rahatlıkla görülebilir. Ankara Kedisi'nin tüyleri tamamen beyaz ve uzundur. Van Kedisi'nin ise tüyleri kısa, baş ve kuyruk bölümlerinde sarı lekeler bulunur’.
39. Şükrü Akyüz, IHA, 2012, June 27.
Van Valisi Münir Karaloğlu: ‘Ama Van kedisini alıp da Ankara kedisi diye logoya koyarsanız bu bizi üzer, Vanlıları da üzer, Van kedisini de üzer’.
40. Yalçın Kitapçı, 1982, October 24, Milliyet, page 3; Van kedilerinin nesilleri korunacak.
41. Journal and proceedings of TBMM, 1992, March 20, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi - The grand national assembly of Turkey, page 640, cilt: 7, dönem: 19.
42. Cumhuriyet, 1994, March 3, page 19, Kediler arası güzellik yanşması; Betül Kalemli: ‘Bu kediler yurt dışında ülkemizi olumlu yönde tanıtıyorlar‘
43. Milliyet, 1998, March 2, page 21, Van kedisi internette. The branch in USA of Doğa ve Hayvan Serveler Derneği  will introduce Van kedisi to the world through internet (Doğa ve Hayvan Serveler Derneği’nin ABD şubesi Van kedisini internet ile dünyaya tanıtıyor). 
44. Resmi Gazete, 2010, 11 Mart; Yüzüncü Yil Üniversitesi Van Kedisi uygulama ve araştirma merkezi yönetmeliği, 2 bölüm Faaliyet alanları, madde 6.
45. Şenler NG, 1986, Biological and behavioral characteristics of the Van Cat. Van kedisi’nin biyolojisi ve davranış özellikleri. Y.Y.Ü. Fen Bil. Enst. Yüksek Lisans Tezi. Van.
46. Betül Şenkal, 2003, Ekim, Van kedisi, National Geographic Türkiye.
47. Mehmet Salih Akkuş/IHA reportage with Abdullah Kaya, 2014 April 24, Van kedisinin turizmdeki yeri
‘Van kedisine benzer durumda olan Afrika’daki safari gezileri, Avustralya’daki kanguru, Türkiye’de ise Van kedisi birer sembol ve turizm figürü olabilmektedir’.
48. Susanne Fowler, 2006, February 20, Chicago Tribune, Turkey takes action to save rare breed of feline
49. Yönetmelik: Yerli Evcil Hayvan Genetik Kaynaklarinin Kullanilmasi Ve, Yurt Dişina Çikarilmasi Hakkinda Yönetmelik [Regulation: The Use of Genetic Resources and Domestic Pets, Regulation on the Removal of Abroad]". Resmî Gazete,  Issue 28418, 21 September 2012, came into effect: 2013, January.
50. Ali Riza Baykal, 1995, July 29, Mazeretim var asabiyim miyavvv! Aksyon Dergisi  
Ağaoğlu: Van' ın dışına çıktığında ekolojik dengeler, meteorolojik şartlar elbette değişiyor. Bu kediler ölüyorlar mı? Hayır. Ama vücut yapılarında birtakım değişiklikler oluyor. Ekolojik hadiselerin değişmesine bağlı olarak tüy yapıları bozuluyor.
51. A. Kaya, YYÜ, Anadolu Ajansı, 2013, May 17; Van Kedisi hediye edilemeyecek (video)
Transcript:’ Ama bunun dışardan, böyle bir kültürel varlığının aslında hediye konusuya yapılması işin doğrusu, beni bilimsel olarak üzüyor (..)’
‘Bunları görmek isteyenler gelip Van'da görebilir. Buradaki Van kedilerinin Van'da kalması en doğrusu’.
‘Bütün kedilerimiz hamile kalsın, altız doğursun, hepsi altız doğursun, hepsi tek-göz olsun’
52. Anadolu Ajansı, 2014, February , Van kedilerine Ankara'nın Bağları dinletiliyor.
A. Kaya: ‘Ankara havasından keman sesine kadar her türden müzik dinletmeye çalışıyoruz. Amaç buradaki toplu yaşam kasvetini bu sevecenlikle değiştirmek ve ev ortamı havası yaratmak. Hayvanların müziği dinlerken daha rahat olduklarını, kendilerini güvenli ev ortamında hissettiklerini düşünüyoruz. Müziği sabah 8'den akşam 17'ye kadar dinletiyoruz."’
53. Murat Çağlar, DHA, 2012, may 22;  Deprem bunalimindaki Van kedisi, 5’inci kattan atladi, bacaği kirildi
54. Osman Bekleyen, Murat Çağlar, DHA, 2012 February 21, Van kedilerine oyuncaklı terapi.
Doç. Dr. Karaca: ‘Bu durumda kediler yalnız kaldı. Özellikle çiftleşme ve doğum döneminde kedilerin ilgiye çok ihtiyacı var. Biz bu açığı oyuncaklarla kapatmak istiyoruz. Özellikle plastik evler, top gibi oyuncaklara ihtiyaç var. Bunun içinde hayvanseverlerden destek istiyoruz.’
55. Sebahattin Yılmaz , DHA, 2002, February 13, Van Kedisi sevgi istiyor, Milliyet, p. 30.
56. Sebahattin Yılmaz, 2004, November 10, Siyah diye reddettiler, Hürriyet.
57. Osman Bekleyen, DHA, 2012, November 29, Daha Beyaz olacak
A. Kaya: ‘biz şimdi kedilere öğünler arasında balık, süt, et ve ıslak mama ile birlikte tüy geliştirici ve güzelleştirici kapsüller veriyoruz. Bunun sonucunu da yavaş yavaş görmeye başladık. Ama tam sonuçları 2 ay içinde alacağız. Kedilerim daha canlı ve daha güzel olacak.’
58. Resmigazete, 2006, april 22, Van Kedisi Standart, 26147, advisor: Dr. Prof. Fatih Atasoy.  www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2006/04/20060422-20-6.htm,
59. Osman Bekleyen, Murat Çağlar, DHA, 2013, July 25, Yavru Van kedilerine dondurma
A. Kaya: ‘Buradaki sıcaklık kedileri rahatsız ediyor. Bu kedilerin de serinleme ihtiyacı oluyor. Biz de zaman zaman kedilere dondurma vererek serinletiyoruz. Çünkü dondurma kalsiyum yüklü bir yiyecek. Kediler bu sıcak günlerde hem serinliyor hemde sağlıklı bir şekilde gelişimlerini sürdürüyor’.
‘Van kedileri Van ve üniversitemiz için bir vizyon.’
60. Murat Çağlar, DHA, 2013, December 31, Van kedilerine noel baba şapkası
61. Ismail Hakkı Demir, Anadolu Ajansı, 2011, October 11, Bir gecede değişti
62. Mehmet Salih Akkuş, IHA, 2014, April 24, Van kedisinin turizmdeki yeri.
A. Kaya: ‘Van Kedisi Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi’ni 2013 yılında 4 bini yabancı olmak üzere toplam 27 bin kişi ziyaret etti. Van kedisinin turizm değerinin artırılması için tanıtımın daha etkin yapılması, il dışına çıkışının tek elden ve zorlaştırılması, Van kedisinin turistik marka değerinin halkımıza daha etkin anlatılması ve farkındalığın oluşturulması gerekir’.
63. Tarımsal Araştırmalar Genel Müdürlüğü  (TAGEM) Native Animal Genetic Resources of Türkiye/Yerli Hayvanlar Genenetic Kaynaklar, Tekirdağ, 2007
64. Caffazo, Natoli, 2009, The social function of tail up in the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus), Behavioural Processes
65. John W. S. Bradshaw et al., 2012, The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat, Chapter 5, p.100-101, University of Bristol.
66. Vella, Carolyn, Shelton, Lorraine -  Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians, etc.; 4 edition, Butterworth-Heinemann 1999. page 148-150
67. IZ tv, 2012, Ankaranın Yumağı,  Sinem Şenol.
Fatih Atasoy  (7:35)  ‘Ankaranın vücüt yapısı daha ince ve uzundur. Çok önemli bir fark: baş yapısısındır: Ankara üçgen, van kedinsin yuvarlaktır. Gözler badem şekilde, Van kedisi yuvarlak. Kahve rengi Van kedisi bulabiliyor Ankara kedisi tamamen beyazdır’.
68. Lyons, 2010, Feline Genetics: Clinical Applications and Genetic Testing, Top Companion Anim Med.
69. Imes et al., 2005, Albinism in the domestic cat (Felis catus) is associated with a tyrosinase (TYR) mutation, Animal Genetics.
70. David et al, 2014, August 1,  Endogenous Retrovirus Insertion in the KIT Oncogene Determines White and White spotting in Domestic Cats.
71. Billingham , Silvers, 1960 the melanocytes of mammals, The Quarterly Review of Biology, 1-40.
72. Chrisst Russel, 2011, The Khao Manee Cat, Cat Planet magazine, April issue, page 25.
73. C. L Martin, 2009, Ophthalmic Disease in Veterinary Medicine, CRC Press, p. 304.
74. Osman Bekleyen, Murat Çağlar DHA, 2006 , May 25, Doğuştan aykırı
Zahit Ağaoğlu: "Bu yavrunun annesi, Van Kedi Evi’ne alınmadan önce çok farklı cinslerle çiftleşmiştir. Bu çiftleşmelerden taşıdığı bu genetik özelliği doğumda göstermiş ve bu şekilde yavruya da yansıtmıştır."Dejenerasyondan uzak, kendi karakteristik özelliklerini taşıyan, saf Van kedileri üretmek üzere
çalışmalar başlattık. Bu çalışmalar, ulusal ve uluslararası boyutta sürüyor. Özellikle bu konuda genetik çalışmalarımıza ağırlık veriyoruz’.
75. Schiefer et al., 2007, Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology: A Practical Guide, Springer.
76. Odabaşıoğlu, F. (2005), Veteriner Genetik, Konya: Selçuk Ünv. Basımevi.
77. Animal protection law- Hayvanlari koruma kanunu 5199, realized: 2004 , June 24.
78. Buffon, 1766, L’Histoire Naturelle, tom XIV,  De la degeneración des animales (of the degeneration of animals).
79. Mehmet Salıh Akkuş, Necmi Ertuş, IHA, 2010, February 12, Van kedilerinde dejenerasyon tehlikesi (Van cats theatened by degeneration)
‘Kendi kedimiz olmasına rağmen, hepsinin soyunu bilmemize rağmen çiftleştirdiğimiz bazı Van kedileri siyah veya kahverengi yavru doğuruyor"
Demek ki kaç jenerasyon önce bu kediler dışarıda başka bir kedi ile çiftleşmiş ve neslindeki genetik dejenerasyon halen devam ediyor. Yıllardır uğraşıyoruz, hala o dejenerasyondan tam anlamıyla kurtaramadık. Tek amacımız bu dejenerasyonu ortadan kaldırmaktır’.
80. Erciş Haber, 2008, February 23, Van Kedisi ırk özelliğini kaybediyor
Z. Ağaoğlu: Çünkü bazen aynı özellikteki iki kediyi çiftleştirdiğiniz zaman siyah beyaz kediler dünyaya gelebiliyordu. Bunların tek göz olanı da olabiliyordu. Ama bilimsel olarak bu bizim çalışmamıza uymuyordu. Bu nedenle biz bunları şu aşamada ayıkladık. Şuanda o tür kedi hemen hemen doğmuyor gibi. Yani yıllardır yapılan çalışmaların bir sonucudur bu. Ebeveynlerin tekrar çiftleştirilmesi durumunda genetik yapıya son derece dikkat ediyoruz. Şu aşamada bizim arzu ettiğimiz uzun tüylü, tekgöz Van Kedisi'ni elde etmek. Bütün amacımız bu yönde.
Dr. Fetih Gülyüz, "Artık tekgöz bir anne ile tekgöz bir babanın birleştirilmesinden bile yüzde yüz tekgöz bir yavru elde edemiyoruz. Bu çiftleşmeden dünyaya gelen 3 yavrudan ya biri tekgöz olabiliyor ya da hiçbiri olmayabiliyor. Yüzde yüz tekgöz doğuran kedimiz hemen hemen yok gibi.   
81. Helena Smith, Guardian (The Observer), 2009, December 6, Divided Cypriots fall out over new breed of cat
The Cypriot Feline Society (particularly its founder, Drita Sjekloca) is responsible for the claims made in press. This type of propaganda aimed to get international attention to new cat breed "Cyprus Giants". Cyprus and Anatolian natural cats are genetically the same population22
82. Bade Gürleyen, Milliyet, 2009, December 25, Kibris Kedi ve Van Kedisi.
Z. Ağaoğlu: ‘Kıbrıs’taki ‘kedi savaşı’ biraz politik. Bu kediler melez. Hatalı çiftleştirmeden dolayı ortaya çıkmışlar. Dolayısıyla DNA testinden sağlıklı bir sonuç çıkacağını sanmıyorum. Melez kedilere fazla itibar edilmez zaten’.
Prof. Dr. Zahid Ağaoğlu ise daha da eski dönemlere giderek Urartulardan (M.Ö. 7-8. yy) söz ediyor: “Urartu kazılarında bile Van kedisinin kalıntıları görülüyor.’
‘Kim kimden doğmuş takip ediyoruz ve bir çiftleştirme programı yapıyoruz. Onları asla farklı türlerle ya da soyunda bozukluk gösteren kedilerle
çiftleştirmiyoruz. Kedilerin saflığını ve karakteristik özelliklerini koruyoruz’.
83. Clark, 1975, The Effects of Selection and Human Preference on Coat Colour Gene, Hederity.
84. Mehmet Salıh Akkuş, İHA, 2014, April 22, Van Kedilerinde Yavru Ölüm Oranı.
Müdürü Doç. Dr. Abdullah Kaya, önceki senelerde yavru kayıp oranının yüzde 60 civarında olduğunu belirterek, “Koruyucu hekimlik, asepsi ve antisepsiye verilen önem, ciddi takip sonucu bu yavru ölüm oranı yüzde 7’lere kadar çekilmiştir.
85. Osman Bekleyen, DHA, 2009, December 1, Küresel ısınma mağdurları via Milliyet.
Z. Ağaoğlu: ‘Küresel ısınmadan kaynaklı güneş ışınlarının anormal oluşu, havaların dengesizliği, soğuk ve sıcak gibi etkiler, kedilerde hormonal dengeyi bozunca dişilerin yumurtlamasını da etkiledi. Doğum sayılarında azalma oldu’.
86. Feyat Erdemir, DHA, 2004, June 9, Van kedisi besleyenlere 50'şer milyon lira.
87. Murat Çağlar, DHA, 2014, march 16, Van kedilerini çiftleştirmenin bedeli 10 lira.
A. Kaya: ‘Dışarıdan getirilen dişi Van kedilerini, ilk 3 gün kedi evinde ücretsiz konaklatıp bakımı yapılıyor. Sonraki günlerde özel odalara alınan kediler, günlüğü 10 TL karşılığında damızlık saf erkek Van kedileri ile çiftleştiriliyor.Tüm Van kedisi sahiplerinin daha saf ve kaliteli yavru elde edebilmeleri için kedilerini bizim damızlık erkek kedilerimizle çiftleştirilmesini öneriyoruz’.
88. Sıtkı Yıldız, Cemal Aşan, AA, 2014, May 23, Van kedileri sayılacak
A. Kaya: "İldeki Van kedisi sayısını belirlemeyi düşünüyoruz. Bunun için de bir proje hazırlayacağız. Bu projeyle özellikle Van'da kaç Van kedisi olduğunu tespit edebileceğiz’.
89. The Cat Breeder's Handbook, 2009, Second edition,  editor: Brigitte McMinn, Tibcc. (page 21)
90. Erat, S., 2011. Application of linear, quadratic and cubic regression models to predict body weight from different body measurements in domestic cats. Int. J. Agric. Biol., 13: 419–422
91. Hong-Truong Luu, 2005, Genetic variation and the reproductive system of Dipterocarpus  cf. condorensis Pierre in Vietnam
92. Lipinski et al., 2008, The Ascent of Cat Breeds - Genetic Evaluations of Breeds and Worldwide, Genomics.
93. Lyons, Kurushima, 2012, The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management - A Short Natural History of the Cat and Its Relationship with Humans, Chapter 42, page 1254-1262.
94. Erat, Arıkan, 2010, Body Mass Index and Different Body Measurements of Turkish Angora and Van Cats in Two Different Locations, Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances.
95. Altunok et al., 2007, Selected Blood Serum Elements in Van (Turkey) Cats, Acta Veteriniaria Brno
96. Erat, Arıkan, 2012, The hair characteristics of Turkish Angora and Van cats, Turk J Vet Anim Sci
97. Tike Şeyda, 2009, Yüksek Lisans Tezi, 47 sayfa, Ankara Kedilerine İşitme Testlerinin Uygulaması Ve İşitme Seviyelerinin Değerlendirilmesi, Sağlık Bilimleri Dergisi 18(3)I- LXVI
98. Das Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, 2005, October 26, Gutachten zur Auslegung von Paragraf 11b des Tierschutzgesetzes; ‘Zuchtverbot für weisse Katzen deren Fellfarbe durch das dominante Gen W determiniert wird’.
99. Bülent Ovacık, Hürriyet, 2001, May 25, Van kedisine yasak ticari bir.
Bilim adamları, bu yaklaşımın bilimsel değil,tamamen ‘‘ticari’’ bir tavır olduğunu söylediler.
Prof.Dr. Odabaşıoğlu, ‘‘Sağırlık başka cins kedilerde de ortaya çıkabiliyor. Bunu tamamen Van kedilerine maletmek doğru değil. Hazırladığımız araştırma TÜBİTAK tarafından kabul gördükten sonra, sonuçları tüm dünyaya duyuracağız’’ dedi.
100. Süreyye Somer, pet.gen.tr, Van ve Ankara Kedileri, Tekir Kedisi, 2002
101. Aydın Can Bekoğlu, Kedigen.com - Ankara Kedisi (2003) , Van Kedisi (The One, 2000), author not known.
102. Juen.com, Ankara Kedisi, author not known.
‘17.yy.da İtalyada tanınan Ankara kedisi için özel bir ilgi gelişmiş ve bu amaçla dernekler kurulmuştur. Bu derneklerden en önemlisi olarak sayılabilecek ve halen çalışmalarını sürdüren Club Angora Turco Pietro Della Valle isimli dernek Ankara kedilerinin üretimi ve gelişimi için çalışmakta ve yarışmalar düzenleyerak ırkın gelişimine katkıda bulunmaktadır’.
103. Bilim ve Teknik, 1991, November 2, Van Kedisi ve Angora Kedisi, page 16.
104. Gülgûn Akbaba, 2001, May, Van kedisi, Bilim Çocuk Dergisi, Tübidak, page 36-38.
105. Dr. Doç.Yosun mater, 20. Populasyonlarda Genler, mbg-111 biyoloji dersi, Gebze Yüksek Teknoloji Enstitütüsü.
anibal.gyte.edu.tr/hebe/AblDrive/.../mbg-111-biyoloji-unite-20.pdf
‘Populasyonlar Çok  Sayıda genetik Varyasyonlar İçerir. Bir populasyon evrim geçirebilmesi için, genetik varyasyonlar içermek Zorundadır . DNA testleri doğal populasyonların genellikle çok sayıda çeşitlilik Içerdiğini göstermiştir . Buna Örnek olarak kedi populasyonu verilebilir . Hepsi kedi ama Ankara kedisi farklı, van kedisi farklı, himayala kedisi farklı vbg’.
106. Semra Sander, 1995, TRT Van Kedisi;
107. IZ tv, 2010, Van'ın Renkli Gözleri; producer: Dilek Mayatürk. Filmed in Van Yüzüncü Yil Üniversitesi.
108. Menotti-Raymond et al., 2007, Patterns of molecular genetic variation among cat breeds, Genomics., see Fig. 2. The Russian blue has identical genetic marker as the Turkish Angora. The Russian blue breed today relates to natural (synonym for random-bred) cats from South Asia (due to crossings to Siamese cats), see supplementary table S.a/ b of  Kurushima et al., 2012, Variation of cats under domestication: genetic assignment of domestic cats to breeds and worldwide random-bred populations" Animal Genetics.
109. Semra Sander, 1995, TRT Ankara Kedisi.
110. R. S. Nickerson, 1998, Confirmation bias: a ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises Review of General Psychology, Vol. 2, No. 2. 175-220
111. Roy Robinson, 1977, Genetics for cat breeder, second edition, Pergamon press.   
'The occurrence of the odd-eyed cat is even more a chance event and there is little prospect of these ever being bred to order. The completely blue-eyed form appears more frequently than the odd-eyed, as a rule'. (p. 154-155)  
112. Charles James Wills, 1891, In the land of the lion and sun, page 305.
‘The best cats are Van cats, which are not really Persian ; these, if well bred, are deaf, and also have eyes of different colours a pink and a yellow eye, or a blue on one side and yellow on the other. A few long-haired cats are ash coloured these are rare.’ 
113. Frederick Millingen, 1870, Wild Life Among The Koords, page 166.
‘In Koordistan the cat is remarkable for its beauty, possessing a rich and fine fur, a splendid tail, and two pretty tufts of hair on the top of his ears. This kind of cat is known all through the East under the denomination of Van cats. In Europe these animals are the pets of ladies; but the denomination of Angora cats which is given to them is erroneous. On account of the great exportation which is carried on, these little animals have become scarce even in Van, where it is difficult now to find good specimens of this breed’.

114.Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB)Yayınları, 2012, Ortaöğretim Mantık Dersi Kitabı, Devlet Kitaplari ikinci baski. Pages 16,45,47,77. 
115. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB)Yayınları, 2012, Akkaya S.E., Albayrak O., Öztürk E., Cavak Ş. Ortaöğretim Biyoloji, 9. Sınıf, page 180.
116. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB)Yayınları , 2014, Ilköğretim Fen ve Teknoloji Dersi Kitabı (7), 2012, page 234. 
117. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB)Yayınları , 2012, Tunç T., Bakar E., Başdağ G., Ipek I., Bağcı N., Köroğlu N.G., Yörük N., Keleş Ö.; Ilköğretim Fen ve Teknoloji, Dersi Kitabı (8); pages 40 and 50.
118. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB)Yayınları , 2014, Dalkilic H., Gölge N., Ilköğretim Hayat Bilgisi 1 Kitap, Ders ve Ögrenci Calışma Kitabı; page 76





Answers:
The Van cat house: 2, 4,5, 7,9, 11, 12.
The Ankara Zoo: 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13.



Authors: Batu Aksoy
Last edited: December 24, 2014

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