Is the Turkish Angora a Healthy Breed?

In short, the answer is "yes". The Turkish Angora seems to be resistant to some of the health problems that plague other breeds, but this is a direct result of the good breeding practices that are being used by Turkish Angora breeders. When a breed becomes too popular, that breed usually suffers, because certain people who are breeding the cats use poor judgement in the choices they make.

Generally, the breeds that are the most rare, have problems because their low numbers make it difficult to avoid inbreeding. However, people with rare breeds are usually a determined lot, and these people usually do a good job of protecting their breed from inherited disease.

Conversely, the popular breeds always have some breeders who are doing a good job. However, at the same time, the pet industry and pet owners, who have not properly educated themselves concerning genetics, pedigrees, genetic testing, and other issues central to good breeding, may begin to breed popular breed kittens for the profit they can produce. Because these precautions take away from profit, the popular breeds are produced by these people without regard for these important steps.

The result is often disasterous.

The only problems that are documented for the Turkish Angora, occuring at a higher rate than "normal" to other cats, are hormonal and allergic skin complaints*. The hormonal problems are usually resolved with the altering of the cat, and the allergic problems are often responsive to a hypoallergenic diet. Rarely, an allergic problem may be a bit more difficult to treat, requiring medication. Whites are a bit more prone to this, but colors may occasionally experience it as well.

Deafness is also documented as a Turkish Angora "problem", but this hardly seems fair, since it is not unique to the breed, but rather, to ANY white cat. A white Persian, a white Devon Rex, or a white mixed breed cat, is just as likely to be deaf as is the Turkish Angora. Further, if one wanted to eradicate this problem, one would have to orchestrate the extinction of ALL white cats.

Despite the claims in one or two websites I have seen, there is not a "deafness gene" tied to the white gene. Instead, the inheritance of the white gene itself, makes some of the kittens deaf. Furthermore, the white cat exists in nature, in plenty. White barn cats are fairly common. Therefore, this is not uniquely a Turkish Angora health problem. Finally, the white cat is not inferior, nor "defective" as a result of the white gene, as evidenced by its ability to survive and thrive in the barnyard and as a citizen of the feral cat population.

In some european countries, lawmakers are considering bans on breeding all white cats. In fact, many breeds are included in the bans, based upon an apparently well-meaning, but severe mis-understanding of their needs. Such measures amount to "throwing the baby out with the bath water", and are un-neccesary. These measures threaten the good health enjoyed by the Turkish Angora and their owners, because elimination of the whites equals elimination of 1/2 to 2/3 of our cats, thus reducing the diversity of the gene pool that is available in our attempts to avoid inbreeding and insure good health. Such measures should be strenuously opposed by the pet-loving public.

Turkish Angoras, of course, may experience any health problem that is common to all cats, but these problems do not occur at a rate that exceeds the normal incidence of that same problem in the "domestic cat" population.

One problem that occurs in ALL cats is HCM, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart. Recently, work on the feline and human genomes has resulted in more knowlege about HCM and how it may be inherited, although research on this subject is ongoing. Armed with this very early information, some caring breeders have begun to test their Turkish Angoras for this disease, even though these very expensive tests are variable in accuracy, and only give the breeder some guideline as to the genetic heart health of their cats.

Please visit the Turkish Angora Cardiomyopathy Awareness website for more information about the disease and the testing programs.

Please visit the Turkish Angora Health website for more information about the overall health of our breed.

All in all, the Turkish Angora is one of the healthiest purebred cats available.


Information on medical problems above, if marked with an asterik (*), are derived from the following references, and not necessarily or exclusively from personal experience:

* "Medical, Genetic, & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats", edited by Ross D. Clark, copyright 1992, Forum Publications, Inc., St. Simons Island, Georgia.


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