Snowshoe Cat: Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Snowshoe cat with distinct pointed markings

Eric Sonstroem / Flckr /

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

The Snowshoe Cat is a relatively new and rare breed. Their origins can be traced back to the 1960s when a Siamese breeder, based in the United States, crossed them with an American Short-Haired.

Their name came about because of their four distinctive white paws that make them look like they are wearing snow boots.

They are known for having a similar personality to the Siamese, but they do have distinctive traits all of their own. They are usually affectionate, bonding strongly with their owners, confident, intelligent and active. Known for getting along well with well-mannered dogs, they can suit being part of a multi-pet household, but they may be the ones to demand all of your attention!

Breed Overview

Weight: 7 to 12 pounds

Length: Longer than average

Coat: Short to medium-short haired

Coat Color: Light body with darker 'points' on the ears, mask, legs and tails; usually a white chest, paws, and parts of face, with blue or sable points

Eye Color: Bright blue

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Snowshoe Cat

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  High
Kid-Friendly  High
Pet-Friendly  High
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  High
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Vocalize High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Snowshoe Cat

The Snowshoe Cat is a relatively new breed, although it is very closely related to the ancient Siamese.

They only date back to the 1960s. An American breeder of Siamese cats, Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty, discovered three kittens in one of her litters that all had four white paws. The paws, combined with the striking Siamese 'Pointed' markings really caught her eye. She decided she was going to cross these Siamese with a Domestic Short-haired Cat with tuxedo markings, in an attempt to develop this look.

Over time, this has lead to a distinct breed which has white markings on the face, paws and chest, and then pointed, darker, coloring on the ears, tails and legs.

The breed is still rare. In the 1970s there was only one breeder. Their popularity is gradually growing though. They were first recognized in 1982 by the Cat Fanciers Federation and then the International Cat Association in 1994.

They have gained further recognition as a result of the Internet Celebrity status gained by the late 'Grumpy Cat', thought to be a Snowshoe Cat Cross.

Snowshoe Cat Care

While the Snowshoe can sometimes be a little aloof with strangers, once they get to know you, they develop strong attachments, and you should be prepared for them being by your side 24/7. They are not a cat that suits being left alone for long periods regularly as they could become stressed and under-stimulated.

They can be good cats for living in a home with respectful children and, providing introductions are done properly, they live well alongside dogs too, and can even be a touch bossy!

Snowshoes, like their Siamese relatives, are very clever and curious. You will often find them surveying their kingdom from a high vantage point, and they enjoy having the opportunity to play. You should make sure that you offer an environment with plenty of toys and other enrichment to avoid your cat becoming bored and potentially destructive.

Unlike many cats, Snowshoes have even been known to enjoy taking a dip in water.

They are easy to train in comparison to many breeds. Teaching simple tricks and commands to your cat using positive reinforcement training methods can increase the bond between you and help to keep them stimulated.

If you enjoy peace and tranquillity, it might not be a good idea to opt for a Snowshoe. Like their Siamese relatives, they are a particularly vocal breed that likes to make their voice heard. They will communicate with you through a variety of meows. Their volume levels are softer and less jarring than the Siamese, some even call it a mellow or melodious sound, but they are often noisy nonetheless.

This breed requires minimal maintenance when it comes to their coat. They are a short-haired variety and are known for being very clean. They will shed somewhat, but a once-weekly rub over with a rubber grooming brush should be enough to keep any dead hairs at bay.

You will find the coat shade and markings can vary greatly across the breed. The pattern relates to a recessive gene, so it can be difficult to achieve consistency.

The ideal breed standard is for them to have distinct darker pointing on their ears, tails, legs and top of the face. They will then have white chests, paws and lower part of their face. They often have a v-shaped mask, where the lighter base and darker points meet around the eyes. The breed is born white, and their darker pointing only begins to develop as they mature. A Snowshoe also has distinctive bright blue eyes.

Common Health Problems

Because the Snowshoe is such a new breed, there is not much detail on major inheritable conditions that they may be subject to. They are generally regarded as being pretty healthy.

They can occasionally be prone to suffering from cross-eyes and kinked tails, which are genetic traits that the Siamese is known for. Neither of these will cause any discomfort or problems for your cat if they are born with these peculiarities, though, they just look different.

Dental disease is one of the most common health problems for cats of any breed, and it is a perfectly preventable issue. Make sure you feed a high-quality diet and, if your cat is tolerant enough, you can even work on adding teeth brushing into their weekly grooming schedule. Getting them used to having their mouth examined from an early age and having them associate it with good things can help.

Diet and Nutrition

All cats should be fed a high-quality meat-based diet as they are obligate carnivores.

The first ingredient you should see in cat food should always be a meat source. If your cat lives in the same household as a dog, don't make the mistake of thinking it will be okay to feed them the same food.

Cat food has a different balance of vitamins and minerals to that of dog food. For example, it will have a much higher quantity of an amino acid called Taurine, which is found in animal-based proteins. If your cat has a taurine deficiency, it can lead to eye and heart problems that can be life-threatening.

Pros

  • A very affectionate family cat

  • Smart and trainable

  • They do not have a high maintenance grooming regime

Cons

  • Snowshoes are very vocal

  • They are not suited to being left alone for long stretches

  • They need a lot of enrichment and stimulation

Where to Adopt or Buy a Snowshoe Cat

You should always do your research when you are thinking about welcoming a new kitten into your home. Seek out a reputable breeder who is raising the kittens alongside their mother in a home environment where they are receiving the right socialization and care.

Because the breed is rare, there are not so many breeders to choose from, and you may need to travel further or go on a waiting list.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Don't forget; there are lots of beautiful cats also waiting to be adopted in rescue organizations across the country too. It may be rare to find a Snowshoe, but you may fall in love with another cat along the way.

If you want to look into other breeds with similar traits, why not read about:

For more inspiration and information, check out our other cat breed profiles.