Snowshoe Cat: Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Appearance, Personality, History, Care, & Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Snowshoe cat with distinct pointed markings

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The snowshoe cat is a relatively new hybrid of the Siamese and American shorthair breeds that originated in the United States. The name "snowshoe" refers to the cat's four distinctive white paws. Its other colorpoint markings resemble those of a Siamese, and its personality is similar, too. This friendly feline is a healthy, medium-sized purebred that makes a loving and devoted family pet.

Breed Overview

Personality: Affectionate, sociable, confident but needy of attention, intelligent, playful

Weight: Up to 12 pounds

Length: Up to 30 inches

Coat Length: Short

Coat Colors: Light body with darker blue or sable points (ears, mask, legs, and tail); white chest, paws, and parts of face

Coat Patterns: Colorpoint

Eye Color: Blue

Lifespan: Up to 15 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United States

Snowshoe Cat Characteristics

Snowshoes are known for having a similar personality to the Siamese half of their ancestry. They are generally affectionate and bond strongly with their owners. Confident, intelligent, and sociable, they tend to use their loud voices to demand attention and "talk" with their owners.

Known for their willingness to make friends with other cats and friendly dogs, snowshoe cats can thrive in a multi-pet household, but they will likely "speak up" to get the play time or cuddles they deserve.

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 breed began in the 1960s when Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty, an American breeder of Siamese cats, discovered three kittens in one of her litters that each had four white paws. The paws, combined with the striking Siamese colorpoint pattern, delighted Hinds-Daugherty. She decided to cross these Siamese kittens with American shorthair cats with tuxedo markings in an attempt to develop the snowshoe breed.

The breed is growing in popularity. It was recognized in 1982 by the Cat Fanciers' Association and in 1994 by the International Cat Association.

Public interest in the breed was piqued by the late Grumpy Cat, a snowshoe cross, who gained celebrity status as a social media star in 2012. While she had distinct snowshoe colors and markings, Grumpy Cat's glum-looking features were considered a result of dwarfism and were not characteristic of the breed.

Snowshoe Cat Care


This breed requires minimal maintenance when it comes to grooming. 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.

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.


Snowshoes, like their Siamese relatives, are clever and curious. They enjoy surveying their territory from high vantage points, such as the tops of cat trees, to spy an opportunity for adventure or someone ready to play. Your snowshoe will appreciate an environment with plenty of toys and willing game participants to avoid boredom.

Since they are so smart, snowshoes are relatively easy to train. Teaching simple tricks and commands to your cat using positive reinforcement training methods can increase the bond between you and help to keep your cat stimulated—both mentally and physically.

Common Health Problems

So far, in their brief breed history, snowshoes have proven to be pretty healthy cats. Due to their Siamese genetics, crossed eyes and kinked tails will occasionally crop up in a litter, but these traits are not painful or debilitating.


Snowshoes are medium to large cats with a soft, robust appearance. Their heads tend to be rather round with large eyes and slightly rounded ears.

The ideal snowshoe breed standard calls for distinctly darker pointing on the ears, tails, legs, and top of the face. The chest, paws, and lower part of the face should be white, and the eyes a bright shade of blue.

Coat shade and markings vary across the breed. The pattern is determined by a recessive gene, so it can be difficult to achieve consistency. Interestingly, The breed is born white, and their darker pointing only begins to develop as they mature.

Diet and Nutrition

Snowshoes, like all cats, fare well on a high-quality meat-based diet as they are obligate carnivores. The food must contain a sufficient quantity of the amino acid taurine, which is found in animal-based proteins. If your cat becomes deficient in taurine, which can happen from eating dog food or plant-based foods, it can suffer potentially life-threatening eye and heart problems.

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.

Snowshoe Cat Overview

While snowshoes may be a little aloof with strangers, they develop strong attachments to people they get to know. They enjoy being with their human family as much as possible and can become depressed if left alone for long.

They happily adapt to homes with other cats, respectful children, and gentle dogs (providing introductions are performed properly). Despite their soft and cuddly appearance, though, snowshoe cats can be a bit bossy with other pets—usually all in good fun.

If you enjoy quiet tranquillity, think twice before bringing home a snowshoe cat. Like their Siamese relatives, they are particularly vocal and like to be heard. They communicate with 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 notorious noise-makers nonetheless.

  • Affectionate family cat

  • Smart and trainable

  • Low maintenance and healthy

  • Very vocal

  • Can't tolerate being alone for long

  • Need a lot of enrichment and stimulation

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.

  • Do snowshoe cats like to be held?

    Snowshoes are a cuddly breed that enjoys human contact, so they don't mind being held or napping on laps.

  • Are snowshoe cats related to Siamese cats?

    The snowshoe breed is a hybrid (mix) of the Siamese and American shorthair breeds, and they share many traits with their Siamese ancestors.

  • How did the snowshoe cat get its name?

    The snowshoe cat is named for its four white-as-snow paws.