If you're lucky enough to have a Snowshoe cat in your life, you know exactly how special these beautiful creatures are. From their quirky, but friendly personalities to their signature white feet, this affectionate cat breed is sure to thaw out the coldest of hearts with its warm cuddles and silly antics. But where did these playful felines come from, and how do you properly care for one? With roots steeped in the American Shorthair and Siamese cat breeds, these cats are sure to have an interesting story.
The Snowshoe cat breed came on the scene in the 1950s when someone tried to breed a white-footed Siamese named Silver Laces. But the feeble attempt didn't go very far. A successful attempt at creating the breed was made in the 1960s, according to the American Cat Fanciers Association. Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty, a Siamese cat breeder in Philadelphia, saw three Siamese kittens displaying white paws, a sign of a recessive gene, and decided to create something new.
She created a "moderate, white-footed" Siamese-like cat with the name "Snowshoe" by breeding a purebred Siamese with an American Shorthair cat, then back with a Siamese, tapping into the breed's recessive genes.
Daugherty developed the breed standard for the cat and began showing it. She even approached the Cat Fanciers Federation, getting approval to show the cats in Exhibitions. She continued her work through her Kensing Cattery but eventually turned her work over to Vikki Olander with the Furr-Lo Cattery in Virginia. Olander worked on the breed, creating a comprehensive standard and getting them recognized with the CFF and ACA for experimental registration. But everything stalled for these cats in 1977, with only four Snowshoes registered with the associations.
The breed was pushed forward by two Ohio breeders who were put in touch with Olander. Eventually, they recruited more breeders, and the Snowshoe cat was recognized by the CFF for Championship status in 1982. Soon after, she was able to get them accepted into The International Cat Association, which granted them Champion status in 1994.
Personality and Activity Level
Snowshoes are very athletic and are known for their muscular bodies. Generally, a healthy cat will weigh between 7-12 pounds.
Much like their Siamese ancestors, these cats are incredibly intelligent and sociable. Their amiable cat personality makes them a wonderful choice for a family cat since they usually get along with young children and dogs. But there is a downside to their friendliness: They don't like being left alone for long periods of time. These cats would much rather be with their humans, giving them cuddles. Thankfully, they are very accepting of other cats and dogs and would do well with a companion to keep them entertained during the day.
Initially, they don't like guests in their home, but it doesn't take long before they warm up to them. The Snowshoe cat will play any game you want—even fetch—and will follow you through the house, filling your ears with a chorus of meows.
Appearance and Grooming Needs of Breed
Snowshoe kittens are born all white, with their point color coat pattern showing up a few years later. A pointed cat has a light-colored body that is punctuated by dark areas (points) that come in many colors, such as chocolate, light cream, red, lilac, blue, fawn, seal, and cinnamon. The point locations are ears, tail, a raccoon-like mask around the eyes, and legs. They are known for having a "V" of white fur between their eyes.
Thanks to their short coat and low shedding, they are often thought of as hypoallergenic, but they are not. Sadly, they will still cause you problems if you are allergic to cats. On top of their white mittens, these cats have another striking feature, their blue eyes. The color tends to vary with different shades, but they are always blue.
Their short hair needs to be brushed twice a week, much like other cat breeds, and their nails should be trimmed once a month. Clean your cat's ears as needed and brush their teeth once a week. Setting up a grooming routine will make it easier for your new cat to adjust to the process, even if they don't like it.
Snowshoes aren't known for any health issues. However, TICA recommends that cats receive all of their vaccinations and have regular vet checkups. On average, Snowshoe cats live between 14-20 years.
Famous Snowshoe Cats
Despite being a rather rare cat breed, there are a handful of famous Snowshoe cats. One of the most famous is Grumpy Cat. While her parents were American shorthairs, and her owners say she was a mixed breed, many people think she had some snowshoe cat in her ancestry.
Another famous cat is a little more infamous. Dusty the Klepto Kitty was well known for his adept skill—cat burglary. His top-level skills earned him a guest spot in 2011 on the "Late Show with David Letterman." At that point, the kitty thief had a haul of household items, including:
- 6 car wash mitts
- 7 sponges
- 213 dish towels
- 7 washcloths
- 5 towels
- 8 shoes
- 73 socks
- 100 gloves
- a pair of mittens
- 3 aprons
- 40 balls
- 4 pairs of underwear
- a dog collar
- 6 rubber toys
- a blanket
- 3 leg warmers
- 2 Frisbees
- a golf club head cover
- a safety mask
- 2 mesh bags
- a bag of water balloons
- a pair of pajama pants
- 8 bathing suits
- 8 miscellaneous objects
All of the items were stolen from his San Mateo neighbors. He ferreted his loot away from his unsuspecting neighbors, bringing it home as a prize for his cat parents.
Burton the Cat uses his fame to help orphaned kittens and raise awareness. The famous rescue and Instagram star walks on a leash, educates the public about cat rescues, and isn't afraid to hop aboard a flight on Southwest.
How To Get A Snowshoe Cat of Your Own
It's rather difficult to breed the snowshoe cat. Most often, they are bred snowshoe to snowshoe as per the cat's standard, but a successful litter relies on recessive traits, giving them their white boots. Cats can be crossbred with Oriental shorthairs to help bring out the gene. Despite the difficulty, the best way to get your own is to find a reputable breeder. Contacting organizations like CFF and TICA are the best ways to locate reputable breeders in your area.
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