Save the Van Cats

Some background on a little coincidence.

When I was in Haiti volunteering with Clowns Without Borders I made an interview with the logistician for the French group. I was his translator and I don’t know French very well at all. At some point he said, “vingt-quatre,” and I translated it as van cat and talked a little nonsense about what we do with the van cats.

Imagine my surprise when this headline showed up in my Turkey news feed: TURKEY SAVES VAN CATS FROM EXTINCTION. Van cats are real! They come from Van, they have different colored eyes, and they are being saved from extinction!

“The Van cat has to be fully white, with one eye turquoise blue and the other amber. The roundness of its face and the length of its tail are very important.”

Van cat is seen at the Cat House Center in the eastern city of Van, Turkey, 19 January 2006.

“The Van Cats Research Center, established by Van’s Yuzuncu Yil University in 1992, has played a key role in saving the species from extinction. The number of purebred Van cats at the center has increased from 30 in 1992 to 144 in 2014. The cats have been issued ID cards and the university has banned them from being sold or given away as presents.”

There is a really boring youtube video explaining how important Van cats are, longwindedly describing the plight of the cats disappearing from Van. People kill the ones that don’t have two colored eyes, the ones that do have the two colored eyes? Tourists kidnap them. I don’t blame them.