Almost everyone wants a cat that has very unique physical characteristics and a pleasant disposition to match. With its sweet and affectionate nature, coupled with a striking coat pattern, the Snowshoe cat is always a great choice. It has a level of sociability that very few other felines can match. It is not surprising why people fall in love with the Snowshoe the moment they recognize its lovable temperament.
History of the Snowshoe Cat
Sometime in the late 1960s, Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty of Philadelphia discovered that one of her Siamese cats gave birth to kittens that had unique color markings. Three of them had white colorpoints and white limbs. Hinds-Daugherty got intrigued by the unusual markings, prompting her to experiment. She tried crossbreeding bicolor American Shorthairs with seal point Siamese cats. The resulting kittens did not produce the desired “unique” look. She then tried breeding the kittens back into Siamese cats. This resulted in the creation of the desired look of the cat.
Because of the white feet of the “new” cat, Hinds-Daugherty named it “Snowshoe”. She tried promoting the cats at local cat shows until she gave up the breeding of these new cats. Vikki Olander continued on what Hinds-Daugherty started. The former created the standards for the breed and was able to secure an “experimental breed” status from the American Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers Federation in 1974.
Very few people persisted with the creation of the new breed because of the many challenges it posed. By 1977, only Olander remained committed to advancing the new breed. She was joined later on by Georgina Kuhnell and Jim Hoffman. With the combined effort of the trio, other breeders joined.
The CFF gave the Snowshoe its Championship status in 1983. The American Cat Fanciers’ Association, meanwhile, granted the breed its Championship status in 1990. Three years later, The International Cat Association recognized the Snowshoe as a feline breed. The UK’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy also gave the breed Championship status in 2013.
In addition to these organizations, the Snowshoe cat also gained recognition as a breed from the Federation Internationale Feline, the Cat Fanciers Federation, and the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts.
Quick Facts about the Snowshoe Cat
Compared to other breeds of cats, the Snowshoe is a new breed. For many of the breed’s adoring fans, it is still a very rare pedigreed feline. This does not mean we have very limited information about this kitty. Read on to find out more interesting facts about the Snowshoe cat.
- It is a Medium-sized Cat
One of the things you have to know about this breed is that it is a medium-sized breed. On the average, males can weigh from 9 to 12 pounds. Their female counterparts tip the weighing scale at 7 to 10 pounds. What is great about the Snowshoe is that they do not become overweight very easily. This is because of their very active and playful nature. However, one should still exercise caution when feeding the cat. You do not want it to be another statistic in the growing population of overweight and obese cats in the US.
- It’s the Gentleman’s Coat that Matters
If there is one thing that distinguishes the Snowshoe from other cat breeds, it is its coat. While others take on the classic stripes of tigers or the quintessential colorpoints of the Siamese, the Snowshoe has a more “luxurious” coat pattern. This is the feline world’s answer to the Boston Terrier in the dog kingdom. Known for its tuxedo coat, the Boston Terrier is a fine looking four-legged gentleman.
Likewise, the Snowshoe also qualifies as the perfect feline gentleman. This kitty has a dark mask covering its eyes. There is a white, inverted V-shaped marking that breaks the monotony of the dark mask. This is almost equivalent to the collar of a tuxedo; albeit in an inverted fashion. Complementing the tuxedo-like coat pattern on its head are four white feet. They call those in the front limbs mittens and those in the rear legs boots.
The colorpoint markings of the Siamese are also evident in the Snowshoe. It gives it the impression that you have a feline gentleman walking with its trench coat on. It is a remarkable sight to behold, especially if its owner walks the Snowshoe around the neighborhood.
- Different Organizations have Different Standards as to the Color of the Snowshoe
The only two things that unify the different cat associations in the world are the Snowshoe’s inverted V-shaped mask and white mittens and boots. As for the color of the rest of its body, different organizations have a different standard.
The American Cat Fanciers’ Association, for instance, recognizes only blue point and seal point coloration. This is also the same standard espoused by the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts. On the other hand, the Federation International Feline recognizes colorpoints in seal, chocolate, black, blue, cinnamon, fawn, cream, and red. Colorpoints are not the only patterns that the FIFe recognizes, however. It also gives due recognition to other patterns like tabby, tortoiseshell, and a combination of tortoiseshell and tabby.
The organization that provides greater leeway in the recognition of the Snowshoe color patterns is The International Cat Association. The group recognizes all variants of colorpoints.
- It is Not Easy to Breed a Snowshoe
Creating a Snowshoe is never easy. Breeders have to be very selective in the cats that they are going to use in their program. One has to have a basic understanding of feline genetics and Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance. It is important to understand that the different coat markings are recessive traits. The trait will manifest in the kitten only if both parents carry the recessive trait.
The white boots-and-mittens markings on the Snowshoe are the result of the gloving gene or the piebalding gene. As if the recessive nature of these genes is not challenging enough, controlling the amount of piebalding or gloving can also be very difficult. Breeders have to make sure that the white boots and mittens on the kittens will be of the same height or length. This means, the white should never extend too far up the cat’s leg or is not high enough. It is also important that all four limbs of the Snowshoe have the white markings.
The inverted V facial marking of the Snowshoe also poses a unique challenge to breeders. The kitten should not have a large white marking on its face. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine whether the breed pairing will result in kittens with the ideal facial marking.
There is also the body type of the cat that breeders have to take into consideration. The original Snowshoe cats came from crossbreeding a Siamese with an American Shorthair. However, modern breeders prefer the Oriental Shorthair in their breeding practices. The ideal is to get the body length of the Siamese and the body structure of the American Shorthair. They also have to ensure the correct ear set and head shape.
These challenges are never easy to overcome. It is for this reason that Snowshoe cats are considered as a rare feline breed.
- Snowshoe Cats Can Be Very Vocal
Because the Snowshoe is the result of crossing a Siamese with an American Shorthair, there is a chance that it will get the vocal antics of the Siamese. These are cats that will demand attention by letting out loud meows. They also express their emotions through other vocalizations. On the other hand, the American Shorthair can communicate its wants through its expressions.
If the Siamese gene is stronger, then you can expect the Snowshoe to be very vocal. If it is the American Shorthair’s genes that are more dominant, then you can have a cat that is not talkative. If you have equal Siamese and American Shorthair, then you’ll get a Snowshoe that is talkative but with a soft and melodic voice. If the pairing is between a Siamese and an Oriental Shorthair, then you will have a Snowshoe cat that is very chatty.
Things You Should Know
Snowshoes are lovable. They have the friendliness and affectionate nature of the American Shorthair and the energy level and intelligence of the Siamese. It is an exciting combination but only if you are up to it. And if the kitty is the result of mixing an Oriental Shorthair with a Siamese, then get ready for a rambunctious, fun-loving feline.
Snowshoes are a healthy cat breed, although it is early yet to tell whether it will stay this way for a long time. Since the breed is the result of crossbreeding practices between a Siamese and an American Shorthair or an Oriental Shorthair, one can expect the diseases common in these cat breeds to be present in the Snowshoes, too.
For instance, both the Siamese and the Oriental Shorthair are known for having a hereditary neurological defect that can result in crossed eyes. Both breeds also have hereditary liver amyloidosis. This can cause liver failure in the cat. Mast cell cancer, bladder stones, and dilated cardiomyopathy are also common in both the Oriental Shorthair and the Siamese.
The Siamese parent can also have progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma. If one of the parents of the Snowshoe is an American Shorthair, then there is also the addition of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The problem here is that there is no way of determining whether any or all of these diseases will also manifest in the young Snowshoe. One has to consider genetics again. If the trait for the disease is recessive, then you can expect the breed to be a carrier of the disease.
The main point here is to never trust a breeder who tells you that his Snowshoe cats are very healthy. All pets have some form of health problem. One way you can be sure is by having the cat DNA-tested.
This rare cat breed needs the correct types of nutrients in the right amounts. It is best to consult with a veterinary nutritionist instead of relying only on what’s printed on pet food labels. One has to learn how to calculate for the cat’s calorie requirements and not depend on food portion estimates.
Snowshoe cats need taurine if they want to avert heart problems. Antioxidant-rich cat food is also important to help maintain the smoothness of its coat and the health of its skin. Animal proteins are the best as they can help the cat grow and develop healthier muscles and other organs.
Stay away from excessive treating since this can contribute to feline obesity. Water is also necessary to help provide for better metabolic processes in individual cells. Watch the amount of carbohydrates that is present in its food. Your cat doesn’t need too much of this macronutrient.
Snowshoe cats have a very unique look that can make them very “hot” commodities. It is not very common that you see a cat that’s all dressed up for the prom. If such a cat walks alone in the streets, there is a chance that somebody might pick it up and sell it to a willing buyer. Picking the Snowshoe up is never an issue because of its natural friendliness. It is unlike other cats that are wary of strangers. This is a feline breed that is like the Golden Retriever that considers everyone its friend. While it is shy around strangers, it will not hide.
It is for this reason that this breed should always stay indoors. This will help prevent it from getting “catnapped”. Moreover, the outdoors can be full of hazards like chemicals on the ground. This breed is very curious, making it want to try almost anything. Antifreeze, cleaning solutions, and other harmful chemicals are dangerous to any pet. There is also the threat of injury secondary to animal attacks or getting hit by a speeding car. So keep the Snowshoe inside the house. If you have to bring it out, make sure you have your eyes on it all the time.
Also, because there is no guaranteeing the state of health of the Snowshoe, it is a must that it undergo routine wellness examinations. It may also be wise to get a comprehensive DNA test to help identify disease markers that the cat may be predisposed to. Veterinarians can also provide a more comprehensive assessment and cleaning of the cat’s teeth, making sure it is free of gum disease. Eye screening tests are also critical because the Siamese gene in the Snowshoe can present a host of eye problems.
Take good care of the cat’s litter box. This is a fastidious breed that expects its owner to provide it with a clean toilet. Otherwise, the Snowshoe will urinate and defecate elsewhere. Regular flea, heartworm, tick, and intestinal parasite preventative treatments are also important. This is despite the fact that it is an indoor-only cat.
It needs plenty of playtime as well as interaction with its human family. Its friendliness makes it an adorable companion for other pets in your household. This means, socializing the cat as soon as it arrives in your house can help strengthen its amiable nature.
This kitty has a short and smooth coat that is quite easy to groom. It is not a low-shedding pet, however, so it requires frequent brushing or combing of its fur. This helps get rid of pet dander that can get on your furnishings. Combing once a week is enough for the cat. But if you can commit to brushing it every day, then it will be a lot better.
Snowshoe cats need to have their ears inspected every week. Dirt can get inside the cat’s ears and cause the abnormal buildup of waxy substance. Certain species of mites can thrive in the ear, too. That is why weekly examination and cleaning is important. Brush the Snowshoe’s teeth once every 3 to 4 days. Trim its claws every 2 to 3 weeks.
Both the parent feline breeds of the Snowshoe are affectionate and friendly. They are also passionate about their human family and would do almost anything to win their approval. Snowshoe cats also display such an adorable temperament. It is good-natured and thrives on the positive relationships that it builds with its human owners.
Like most affectionate kitties, however, the Snowshoe has the tendency to form a very strong bond with only one person in the family. This is often the one that provides the cat with food, nurturing, playtime, and lots of attention. It is not surprising, therefore, that the absence of this person can lead to feline depression. In some cases, they can have separation anxiety as well.
The Snowshoe’s intelligence is something that it got from its Siamese forebears. It also has the breed’s insatiable curiosity. The good thing with this is that the Snowshoe cat is very easy to train. It is quite eager, too.
With an outgoing and affectionate personality, it is not difficult to fall in love with a Snowshoe cat. Its natural love of people makes it one of the best feline pets for almost anyone.