BREEDER PROFILE Conducted by Marianne Brett
Breeders Name: Joyce Johnson Prefix: Akdamar Breed: Turkish Van
The earliest recollections of my life really began when I arrived as a two-and-a-half year old war evacuee from Hull during the war, I lived with close relations until adult-hood in the village of Denholme mid-way between Halifax and Keighley.
I was carefully guided through school and college attending chapel every Sunday and always evensong.
Supreme Grand Premier Akdamar Bazisey Mahsus (translation: Something Special) - the only cat to win the Supreme Cat Show twice (in 1995 and 1996), together with the National Cat Show (1995). Truly Something Special!
I had little contact with animals until - as fate often decrees - I met David who had a strong upbringing in a farming community being an excellent horse man etc. And he had a cat, of course, he was a black and white household pet called Jock who was eighteen years old when I met him and he lived to be twenty two!
Through his childhood to later in his life David knew animals, breeding, amongst others, Gloucester old spot and Tamworth pigs and this knowledge of thoroughbred animals was to be our guiding light when we eventually came to the Turkish Van.
Two years later we were married and eventually our son Martin came along.
When he was six-years-old, fate again stepped in and changed our lives completely; David was offered a very good job as manager on a diamond mining complex in the heart of Africa and the following years were one adventure after another. Life in ‘bush’ Africa was both very demanding but most rewarding giving us the opportunity to travel extensively and see life at the sharp end… but not on the horn of a Tusker or a Rhino!
Akdamar Filekugu (The Swan), the first amongst equals. Akdamar’s stud boy.
We had many pets during our life there; some wild and some not so wild but that is another story. Our son was taught to swim in our outdoor pool and later, through his connections in the fire service, he is now in the upper echelons, he went on to be English swimming champion as a school boy and then world championship gold medals as an adult. Suffice to say we are very proud of him.
Following our return some years later to our home in Rawdon we continued travelling, we went to many countries running marathons and sightseeing and, of course, we had another cat. This boy was a ginger tabby called Toby and along with our Shelties we had a complete family. It was then that Mr Fate stepped in again via a cat book we were given, as David had always wanted a ‘pedigree’ cat. We came across a lovely picture of a cat that took both our eyes and you’ve guessed it - it was a Turkish Van.
We looked into the history of this fabulous animal and there was no hesitation as he looked straight back at us and said, “I’m the one for you” and how right he was.
What attracted you to Turkish Vans?
David and I, having decided we would like a pedigree cat looked through many cat books and we both decided on the Turkish Van, everything about it we loved and still do. The contrast of the Auburn and the cream on the White is so attractive and beautiful and that has stayed with us in all our years of breeding.
How did you come up with your prefix?
Talih Muska (Lucky Charm), the first Turkish Van female Grand Champion.
We found that the island where the Turkish Van originated from was called Ahtamar Island being translated to Akdamar and there you have it: AKDAMAR.
How did you get into showing?
Our son Martin took me to a show when he was showing a Burmese and I thought I would like to try this; I always loved grooming our sheltie dogs we used to breed. The first show I entered was the Yorkshire many years ago and from then I was hooked.
What has been your greatest moment so far?
There have been so many with our first CC always being foremost in our memories. The first most outstanding memory being in 1992 when a kitten I bred and sold won the Supreme Exhibit at seven-months-old Akdamar Balclioru Toru.
The second great memory was when our own boy Bazisey Mahsus won the Supreme in 1995 then went on to win National Cat of the Year three weeks later and then in 1996 when won the Supreme again. Although these stand out, every rosette is special, no matter what class it’s for.
What has been your funniest moment so far?
The Crazy Gang - the current crop of Akdamar kittens.
At the Supreme in 1995 I was sitting in my chair grooming Bazi when it collapsed under me! I went on the floor and Bazi jumped over my head. My reaction was I’d lost him but, a well known steward who knew Bazi very well brought him back to me with a big smile on her face with the words: ‘Only this cat can do for me what no man can,’ (quote).
Do you have any breeding or showing tips?
You may have the best looking show cat in the world but if it doesn’t have a good
temperament you don’t really have any chance.
Hands-on from the earliest moment is the real clue and take the knocks like you take the accolades.
When you go to a cat show look carefully at the one that you are attracted to, ask the owners about - it ask all the questions, ask us and we will, like most people offer all the help and advice you need. Above all, don’t be dissuaded if it doesn’t happen straight away, keep at it - and good luck!