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Home > Cats > Turkish Van Cat Health Problems: 5 Common Concerns

Turkish Van Cat Health Problems: 5 Common Concerns

Turkish Van

The Turkish Van cat is a rare breed originating in Turkey. These loveable felines are physically active and enjoy spending time with their humans. Their unique cashmere-like coat is typically white with a darker ring-patterned tail, a matching dark-colored marking on the head, and a similar dark mark sometimes appears between the shoulder blades. Turkish Vans loves to immerse themselves in water and will happily swim for a long time. The Turkish Van is also known for their distinctive eyes, which are usually amber colored, blue, or sometimes one colored eye of each hue. While this unique and rare breed isn’t known for any genetic health problems, there are a few common concerns to watch out for if you’re planning on bringing home a Turkish Van.


The 5 Common Health Problems with Turkish Van Cats

1. Obesity

Signs of Obesity
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty climbing or jumping
  • No visible waistline
  • Increased gas passing and less frequent bowel movements
  • Disheveled hair and coat
  • Pet parents can’t feel hip or rib bones when petting
  • Tight collar

Turkish Van cats tend to be a healthy breed overall, but weight management is just as important for this breed as many other cat breeds. Females tend to weigh between 7 to 10 pounds, while males weigh in at 10 to 12 pounds. Obesity can put your cat at increased risk for arthritis, fatty liver, diabetes, and other health issues. To help prevent obesity in your Turkish Van, watch their food intake and encourage exercise. Choose an appropriate food for your cat and follow the directions on the bag so you don’t overfeed your pet. If your cat is struggling with weight, contact your vet to determine if there are underlying health conditions that could be causing weight gain. Your vet may also prescribe your cat a special diet to help them lose weight.

Exercise can be encouraged by purchasing cat tunnels and towers, which help your cat engage in playing, chasing, and climbing. Other activities that keep your cat active could include motorized cat toys, swimming (since the Van is a water lover), or the old crinkled paper tied to the end of a piece of string attached to a stick. You might also consider getting your Van a friend if you have the space for another pet.

Turkish van
Image Credit: Lea Rae, Shutterstock

2. Diabetes

Signs of Type II Diabetes Mellitus
  • Lethargy and/or weakness
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency and volume of urination
  • Weight loss (despite continued eating)
  • Loss of muscle
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced coat quality (dandruff or oily coat)

The Turkish Van is typically a healthy cat but sometimes can develop diabetes. The most common form of diabetes for cats is type II diabetes mellitus, which is also known as non-insulin-dependent or insulin-resistant diabetes. Type II usually results in a relative insulin deficiency, which means the pancreas produces insulin, but the tissues aren’t able to use it to metabolize glucose adequately.

Common risk factors for type II diabetes mellitus are increased age of the cat, absence of physical activity, sex (indoor male cats are more frequently diagnosed), steroid therapy, or obesity.

3. Elevated Liver Enzymes

Elevated liver enzymes in cats could be a sign that your cat has hepatomegaly, which is an increase in the size of the liver. Inflammation and/or infection could lead to an enlargement of the liver. Other factors that could cause hepatomegaly are hemorrhages, tumors, or cysts. High cholesterol can also play a factor in an enlarged liver, so you should keep a close watch on your pet’s weight, so they don’t become obese. Other causes of hepatomegaly include chronic liver disease, hepatitis, heartworm, diaphragmatic hernia, fat accumulation in the liver tissue, liver cyst, and tumors.

Another potential cause for elevated liver enzymes is fatty liver or hepatic lipidosis. When a cat’s body is starved or underfed, the body moves fat from its internal reserves to the liver so it can be turned into lipoproteins to provide energy. The body of a cat is not intended to transform large stores of fat, so when the cat’s body says its in starvation mode, the fat released by the cat’s body isn’t managed efficiently which leads to a low functioning and fatty liver. Signs include rapid weight loss, anorexia, constipation, diarrhea, loss of muscle, vomiting, and collapse.

Turkish Van with different eye color
Image Credit: 0804Creative, Shutterstock

4. Respiratory Infection

Cats can also catch viruses that lead to respiratory infections. Signs of respiratory infection in cats include runny nose, sneezing, congestion, coughing, fever, and ulcers around the eyes, nose, and mouth. They may also experience trouble swallowing or choking and wheezing when they’re trying to breathe. Cats will also experience behavioral changes when they’re ill, such as disinterest in grooming, lack of hunger, and general lethargy. If you suspect your pet has an upper respiratory infection, reach out to your vet for an appointment and treatment recommendations. Left untreated, cats can develop pneumonia or other serious health issues.

5. Ear Infections

Signs of Ear Infections
  • Excessive earwax
  • Strong ear odor
  • Ear discharge
  • Inflammation or redness in and around the ear
  • Ear mites (seen as black specks)

Ear infections can affect any age or breed of cat, including the Turkish Van. Cats with diabetes, allergies, or illnesses that cause weakened immune systems are more likely to get ear infections. The good news is that ear infections are easy to treat if caught early, so it will be important to pay attention to your cat’s behavior. If they are shaking their head rapidly and often, pawing at and around their ears, tipping their head to one side, or constantly rubbing their ear against surfaces, your cat may have an ear infection. Reach out to your vet immediately for treatment if you suspect an ear infection so your cat can be treated before balance issues or hearing loss occurs.

Turkish Van cat
Image Credit: Gabriele M. Reinhardt, Pixabay


Final Thoughts

The Turkish Van cat is known for being a loveable and friendly breed. This rare cat is not known to have any major genetic health issues but can be susceptible to some of the same common health ailments as other felines. Obesity, diabetes, and elevated liver enzymes are all health issues that can be prevented by a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Upper respiratory infections can occur at any time and can lead to pneumonia if left untreated. Ear infections are a common ailment among felines but can be treated successfully if caught early. Your Turkish Van is likely to live a long and healthy life if you maintain their weight, encourage exercise, and get regular vet checkups.

Featured Image Credit: Gabriele M. Reinhardt, Pixabay

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