No one is quite sure where the Turkish Angora originated from; the long hair gene is recessive and may have been a spontaneous mutation that occurred centuries ago in the breed and was perpetuated by the cats' inability to move out of the region. They have been in Turkey and the surrounding areas for centuries, there is even a legend of Mohammed cutting off his sleeve so as not to disturb his cat during a nap. The were formerly known as Ankara, the name of the capitol of Turkey, along with the long-haired rabbits and goats of the same name. All are prized for their long, fine hair. Turkish Angora's were imported to France and Britain as early as the 1500's and were in America by the 1700's.
As the flashier Persian grew in popularity, the Turkish Angora fell out of favor. They were extensively used in Persian breeding programs to give length and silkiness to the Persian coat. When the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy) decided to lump all cats with long hair into one category, Persians, Russian Longhairs and Turkish Angoras were bred together indiscriminately. Outside of their home country, this breed virtually vanished.
In the early 1900’s the government of Turkey, together with the Ankara Zoo, began a meticulous breeding program that continues today. Because they are so valued by the Turkish people, it has been difficult to obtain cats to begin western breeding programs. In 1964, however, Liesa F. Grant, wife of Army Colonel Walter Grant, managed to successfully import a pair of Angora’s to America after her husbands term of duty was completed, complete with certificates of ancestry. These revived the breed and the breed received CFA registration in 1970 with Championship status in 1973 for white cats only. Other colors were permitted in 1978.