Before we leave Van for vast lava fields and the Iranian border, there's something peculiar about Van that's worth mentioning. For all you cat lovers out there, the region has its own unique breed known simply as the "Van cat". I don't know much about cats nor do I really want to, so I admit that I have not researched this feline or its history. What I do know about the Van cat is that it is always a short-haired white cat, with one blue eye and one green eye.
Not a Van cat:
Perhaps the reason why this fellow was wandering the streets and not in a cage by the castle for tourists to tease and photograph. Ok, curiosity got the better of me. I just read that Van kittens can go for near $300 each, especially if they are pure white (apparently some can have a reddish mark on their heads and hind legs), and that the cat is claimed as a national symbol by Armenians, Kurds, and Turks.
It was even featured on a series of Turkish postal stamps in 1997.