1. What is the Anatolian Cat project?
The Anatolian Cat project is an independent educational community. It was born in 2012, in İzmir, out of scientific curiosity and a love for Anatolian felines.
The Anatolian Cat project has first started as an attempt to increase awareness of Anatolian cats, but soon we began to investigate other cat related issues, such as welfare and some aspects of veterinary medicine. We found that cat related issues were rarely subjected to scientific scrutiny and rational thought. For this reason misinformation, myths and pseudoscience in cat related fields were almost never questioned. Not surprisingly, the conditions that allowed the pseudoscience flourish, gave a power and credibility to the organizations and individuals with hidden commercial and personal motives, especially the cat breeder federations and registries.
Although there are many scientific publications concerning cats, and some books contain an excellent advice and insights, these rarely reach the average reader. In the world of Internet age, the unbiased and scientific sources about cats which are open to the general public, are relatively rare.
The scarcity of reliable information encouraged us to start The Anatolian Cat project.
2. How the Anatolian Cat Project is different from other organizations?
The main difference is our vision, which consists of science, ethics and skepticism. There are organizations and individuals that investigate pseudoscience, alternative medicine, various scams and help to separate the facts from nonsense. One remarkable example is SkeptVet, a page written by veterinarian who writes about pseudoscience in veterinary medicine.
The Anatolian cat project has a broader vision. It is the first ever scientific and skeptical organization concerned about cats. We see cats as an excellent model for teaching science and critical thinking.
Why we are different from other organizations?
* We value ethics, honesty and transparency. We do not try to gain prestige or monetary profit from cats. There are many sources that cooperate with breeder organizations, or sympathize with them. Many sites try to sell something or are the clickbait trap that earns money from ads. The conflict of interests potentially introduces biases, dishonestly and spread the wrong information.
* We are not funded by anybody, the project's incentive is fully voluntarily.
* We respect and value science. We care about the high quality scientific evidence, not rumors, opinions or someone’s beliefs.
* We do not advertise any cat breeds. We do not breed or sell any cats. We do not ask for donations.
* Many websites, books and magazines about cats almost never mention where they get their information from. Yet they still make strong claims as if they were facts, for example hypoallergenic cats or that cats were domesticated in Egypt. Based on what? The writing could be an opinion of the author or an advertisement for a breeder who sells those so called hypoallergic cats.
The reliable article should contain the citations to support its claims. We always cite the sources where we get our information from.
* We seek the diverse points of views, not only those which would confirm our beliefs.
* We make sure that our reviews are always kept up to date.
3. What are the Anatolian Cats?
The Anatolian Cat is a variety of domestic cat found in Anatolia and surrounding areas. We call it as a natural cat. It is not a breed.
Notice, that by saying Anatolian Cats are not a breed, does not mean we accept the common belief that these cats are mixed with other breeds.
How are Anatolian cats defined? By their genetics and where they are naturally found. One should not expect to find Anatolian cat in Western Europe, USA or Japan, but a cat from the street of Syria or Israel will belong to the Anatolian cat family.
So called white cats believed to be breeds - Van Kedisi and Angora cats/Ankara Kedisi - are also Anatolian cats. Anatolian cats have a variety of fur colors and patterns and can be shorthaired and longhaired.
4. Why did you choose the name "Anatolian cats" instead of "Turkish cats"?
The term "Turkish" implies a nationality or ethnic identity. Cats do not have any nationalities. Besides cats living in Anatolia were not brought from Central Asia. These cats are from the wildcats that existed in Anatolia before any nation and country came to exist. Additionally, the Turkish people also originated from ancient Anatolian populations, with a tiny influence from Central Asians - but it is entirely different topic.
Anatolian cats do not live in Turkey only, but also in many areas of Eastern Mediterranean, so calling them "Turkish" creates a wrong impression that the distribution of Anatolian cats is within the political borders of Turkish republic. So why not name them also as Syrian cats? Lebanese cats? Israeli cats? Or Greek cats?
"Anatolia" (Ἀνατολήis) a geographical and a historical term, which means a "sunrise" and "East" in Greek. Its Turkish equalent is "Anadolu". We think that the name "Anatolian"/"Anadolu" describes our cats best, because it has no ethnic, nationalistic or political meaning.
5. Why Anatolian cats?
We care about all natural cats, but the reason why we chose this particular population of cats is simple. Since the volunteers of this project actually live in Anatolian region, they are able to study Anatolian cats closely, hence a name and an idea for this project. The other reason why Anatolian cats are fascinating, it is because of their cultural importance in Anatolian cultures, as well as, their complex genetic history.
6. Who runs the Anatolian Cat project?
The Anatolian Cat project is run by a group of volunteers.
The creators of this project are Batu Aksoy and Perla Aksoy.
7. Is your project officially registered non-profit organization?
No, we have no such plans at the moment. If our project idea becomes successful, we may consider to register our organization.
It is worth to note, that most of non-profit organizations are more businesses than truly "non-profit": they receive donations and some make a living out of this. It is fine, as long the organization works for a good cause, but most of organizations push their ideology and do not care about the science at all. A good example is PETA, which has a lot of money and power, and loves to use the propaganda, scare mongering tactics to influence animal lovers.
8. İs the Anatolian Cat project a part of any organization?
No, we are not affiliated with any organizations. But we do sympathize with other projects that actively support the scientific literacy and critical thinking.
9. What happened to Ankara Kedisi Derneği?
Ankara Kedisi Derneği no longer exists. The more research we did, the less sense it made to advocate for longhaired cats only under the name of one Turkish city. The Ankara Kedisi Derneği (The Angora Cat Association) was an idea of Mr. Özçetin, who established this association to promote his views about the Angora cats, to gain recognition for longhaired cats with colored fur as a breed in Turkey (in similar way cat registries do in Western countries). We attempted to make Ankara Kedisi Derneği more scientific and challenge the cat fancy and white cat breeds dogma. We wrote to his magazine for free, created a website and financed and participated in events in name of his association.
Although Ankara Kedisi Derneği was Özçetin's association, we received no support from him. Mr. Özçetin had no interest in science or ethics. He did not like to cooperate and did all the decisions by himself. In 2014, Özçetin established another association Kedvet, a partner of International Cat Care. We agreed to be a part of it with a promise it will encourage people to value the natural cats more, will create projects that will benefit cats living outside and will give a scientific advice for general public.
Unfortunately Mr. Özçetin did not keep his promise.
He was more interested to advertise his hospital and himself on media rather than do anything useful about the Anatolian cats.
He opposed the Anatolian cat’s name. He supported the segregation and racism of cats: he secretly invented a breed for himself, as he called The Turkish shorthair. Furthermore, the disabled cat named Umut was used to manipulate the emotions of people to advertise his hospital for more than 2 years, instead of really doing something good to help for more cats with disabilities.
Mr. Özçetin is an opportunist businessman. Telling a lie or using pseudoscience and manipulating with emotions are acceptable ways for him as long as he reaches his aims, which are simple: his business, profit and fame.
We do not want to be associated with Mr. Özçetin and his organizations, his hospital and his magazine. We do not approve his unscientific beliefs and refuse to be a part of his agenda.
10. Do you promote any political and religious ideology?
No, we do not. We support science, ethics and education. Personal beliefs have no place in any scientific publications.
11. Do you have any biases?
Yes! Every organization and every individual has some biases. Our biases are: we want to makes lives of cats better, and we believe that the way to do it is to rely on science; we do not take lies and pseudoscience lightly – people have a right to learn the truth; we are against exploitation of cats: breeding them with defects and any other ways that cause them suffering. We think it is time to ask, why welfare movements with agendas with no expertise and research are so powerful and decide the future of our cats. And why activities of cat breeders and registries are never questioned, knowing that all they never benefit natural cats in any way.
12. Why you write to the blog and not to the website?
We had a website a few years ago, but it was hard to manage. If our project gains more interest, support and if a list of scientific reviews increases, we may then think about getting a website. Until then, writing to a blog is easier and hassle free way to publish our work.
13. Why should I care about your research? Your conclusions are outrageous!
You have a right to your opinion, but unless you have done some serious research yourself (we are not talking about reading Wikipedia article and a few cat websites you found on Google), you should not dismiss the evidence given here. If you disagree, you can tell us why, but you are expected to provide a support for your arguments. Do not argue without reading first, because you will only appear foolish and ignorant. Just because you do not like something written here or simply do not understand, does not mean the article itself is wrong. Please be skeptical and ask questions about all the sources you read, not only those you do not agree with.
14. What type of research do you do?
Despite of our name, The Anatolian cats are only a small part of our topics we are currently working on.
There is already a lot of good quality research published, but may not be easy to access or difficult and time consuming to read. The Anatolian Cat project tries to get the whole picture of each topic, by summarizing and evaluating the available evidence.
The Anatolian Cat project is a bit like "Cat Cochrane" (Cochrane is the leading resource for systematic reviews in health care). We look for a high quality evidence, we judge it and write the reviews. Our reviews follow the principles of the academic paper, but they are written without the scientific jargon, as clear as possible.
Our main focus are biology, genetics, and evolution. These fields fall under the "hard science" category. They are less complex and less controversial compared to the fields that deal with ethics, archeological findings or research on cat's place in human societies. In latter cases, we have to rely on bioethics, social sciences and even philosophy. As sociologist Adrian Franklin said, while natural sciences, such as biology “might be able to tell us about the body functions of a cat but it cannot say anything about its moral standing or value to human”.
We think that anything what was misinterpreted, wrong and unscientific deserve a research article. We are interested in any pseudoscience that effects the lives of cats most: welfare, the veterinary medicine etc. But knowing what is wrong is just one step forward: we also need to look for solutions.
We may publish our content to a scientific journal, however the primary purpose of this project is educational. We want our reviews to be accessible for everybody.
15. Why are so few research articles in your website at the moment?
Because there are so few people currently helping for our project, the research goes slowly, and this limits how many reviews we can publish. We hope to increase the count of our research articles over time.
The source and quality of information matters a lot. Mainly there are three types of sources: reliable, unreliable and a mixture of both.
* Peer reviewed scientific journals.
* Academic books and reviews.
* Scientists, researchers and other experts. However the experts must rely on evidence from scientific publications or their own research, when making claims about something. Just because someone has a title of a Doctor or Professor, it does not mean that everything he/she says is true.
Note: Veterinarian’s area of expertise is animal/pet health and treatment. Veterinarians receive no special training about the cat breeds or nutrition therefor their opinions should not be regarded as authoritative on these matters.
Careful with these sources:
* Websites of universities, government or nonprofit organizations. These are a bit tricky, because even if you trust the organization, the information they provide may be unscientific or come from bad sources.
* News sources might be useful for descriptions of factual events and for citing the statements of experts. Unfortunately newspapers, TV channels and internet media may publicize false and one sided information. Their primary source may be biased. Writers and journalists may write their personals opinions or popular yet false claims.
* Blogs: sometimes blogs can be written by scientists and researchers, and may offer some interesting material. In most of cases, however, blogs are filled with the opinions of anonymous bloggers, low quality plagiarized publications.
For our disappointment, the majority of sources about cats are unreliable and misleading.
*Cat registries, breeder’s clubs and breeders personal pages
Undeniably the cat registries and breeders know about their breeds morphological characteristics and standards. That’s because they created those standards. Want to learn about cat breeds? You will find stories full of anecdotes (“they love to swim!”, “good with children”), conspiracy theories (Egyptian Mau breed pictures on ancient Egyptian tombs; Turkish Van cats on Roman shields), legends and fake history (Marie Antoinette sent a ship full Of Angora cats to America; Pedro Della Valle took Persian cats to Italy, prophet Muhammad had the Angora cat etc.) and appeal to tradition (“Mrs. G. K saved this breed from extinction”). If you like a fantasy and advertisements, this is a place for you.
It is understandable that breeders want to sell their cats, so for sure they have to endorse their cat breed making it look as better as possible.
Keep in mind, that many publications, not directly related to breeders, also republish content from breeder’s sources. In fact, it is very difficult to find a book, article or TV program that was not influenced by breeder’s beliefs.
* Content farms and copy-cat websites: repetitive, duplicate, shallow and short, essay format writings for gaining internet traffic either for personal (entertainment, cat rehoming etc.) or commercial reasons (veterinarian clinics, pet shops). Be vary about any websites trying to sell you something. Writers of such a content are not interested about the accuracy and quality. Do not assume if many websites write about the same thing, it must be true. Even if something is popular, it may still be a complete nonsense.
* Wikipedia – The quality of Wikipedia articles varies greatly depending on topic. When it comes to cats, the quality is quite low.
* Books about cat breeds: Including books which are about cat care or behavior, where half of book is reserved for breed descriptions and photoshoped cat breed photos. Cat breed descriptions are written from one-sided cat fancier’s point of view. Perhaps the only book we could recommend on cat breeds is a veterinary one, explaining the specific health problems of breeds. But in general, you do not need any book like that, because you will not learn anything new - you can find the same information on internet for free.
* Unsourced material. Any claims written like a story or essay with no references should be suspicious. Ask a question: where it all comes from?
* Anonymous sources: be skeptical of any web page that does not identify an author and has no contact information. However even if the author is known it does not guarantee that the content is original and reliable.
* Sources with hidden nationalistic, ethnic or political agenda: Does the language used in publication suggests a specific ideology, social or political agenda? For example, ethnic and nationalistic biases are frequently seen in sources about the Van cats.
* Documentaries and TV programs about pets love anecdotes, sensationalism and care about entertainment than anything else. These programs may show you some cute kittens or "Cat breeds 101", but if you care about accuracy and knowledge, be vary of the claims presented in these documentaries and TV shows.
* Cat or pet magazines may be fun and colorful to look at, but they are no better than cat websites when comes to the quality of articles.
* YouTube - unless it is a scientific lecture or presentation about cats, it is generally a bad source.
* Social Media - unless post links or acknowledges reputable sources (see "reliable sources above), it should not be trusted.
* Social Media - unless post links or acknowledges reputable sources (see "reliable sources above), it should not be trusted.
* Your friend’s, relative’s opinion; opinions expressed on social media or in forums. Most likely they get their information from the same sources as you do, therefore unreliable.
17. I live outside Turkey. I want to adopt Anatolian cat.
Why do you want the Anatolian cat exactly? Most of people who want to get Anatolian or Angora cat, want these cats for entirely wrong reasons. Many got fascinated by breed descriptions they read somewhere on the Web, and many believe that these cats are some rare breeds. Anatolian cats are just one type of natural cats; Anatolian Cats are very similar to other natural cats. There is no reason to go great lengths importing a cat from Turkey when you can adopt any natural cat from your own country, from the street (if there are any living there) or from local shelters.