Origin: United States
Type: Cross Breed
Size: Medium to large
Coat Length: Short hair
Body Type: Semi-foreign
Appearance: The Snowshoe is a medium to large-sized breed with long heavy bodies. Adult males weigh between 4 to 5.5kg and females from 3 to 4.5kg. Their coat is short, smooth and dense and usually comes in a cream colour, more rarely in chocolate and lilac. The ears are medium-sized with rounded tips and the eyes are oval and blue in colour.
Grooming Requirement: Once a week
Activity Level: High
Affection: Very affectionate
Time Alone: Less than 4 hours a day
Attention: Needs average attention.
Temperament: Snowshoes are intelligent creatures. Something you’ll recognise when you see the door you’re sure you shut open, or your cat staring at you from the top of the fridge. Unlike most cats Snowshoes aren’t afraid of the water, quite on the contrary, some of them even like swimming. These pets like human company and don’t like to be left alone for too long or even at all. This isn’t the cat for you if you spend your days at work.
Interesting Facts: Snowshoe kittens are naturally born white. The markings appear within one to three weeks.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Kids: If you have children or catfriendly dogs the Snowshoe is a good choice. They can even learn a few tricks and seem to enjoy playing with children. This isn’t to say that you won’t need to socialise your new pet with the other members of the family and you’ll be doing your children a favour when you teach them how to interact properly with animals.
Common Health Problems: The Snowshoe a is generally healthy breed and there aren’t any specific health issues. Some cats may have a kink in the tail or crossed eyes but neither of these cause serious problems.
Lifespan: Average 14 to 19 years.
Although the appearance of the Snowshoe can be seen in photographic and silk-screen evidence from the late Victorian era, the breed we know today was developed in the 1960s in the USA. It was first produced in Philadelphia by a Siamese breeder, Dorothy Hinds-Daughterty, who found three kittens with the white mitted pattern in a litter one of her Siamese cats had produced. She bred them to a domestic shorthaired cat with tuxedo markings – black coat and white paws, belly, throat, and chest. The result was the medium-sized short-haired Snowshoe cat with the distinctive white markings on the feet, called mittens in the front and boots in the hind legs. A white inverted “V” over their muzzle, white chin and throat, and brilliant blue eyes complete the striking appearance of the Snowshoe.
Dorothy Hinds-Daughterty set up a breeding programme and worked diligently to promote the Snowshoe. When she eventually quit breeding, other breeders who saw the potential of the Snowshoe as companions and show animals carried on her work. They wrote the Snowshoe standards and registration rules, and eventually achieved the goal of gaining official recognition as a CFF breed in 1982. In 1990, the Snowshoe was granted championship status by the ACFA. TICA and ACFA had recognised the breed by 1993. Snowshoes are a uniquely American breed, and very rare outside of the USA, but with their official recognition by almost all international cat fanciers organisations and growing popularity, breeders in Europe and Australia are also starting breeding programmes. The Snowshoe is now rarely bred to American Shorthairs. Breeders prefer outcrossing with the Oriental Shorthair and the older type of Siamese for better and more consistent colour and markings.
Litters of Snowshoes produce kittens with any of the standard Siamese colours. However, the dark point colours are typically preferred, as they set off the white mittens more strikingly. Snowshoe kittens are born white and their markings start developing when they are a few weeks old, gradually becoming darker as the kitten matures. The pattern of the white mitts and boots involves several genetic factors and can be unpredictable. Snowshoe kittens can be solid seal-points with no white, or they may have too much white on the legs or chest. The breed is described by owners as mellow, kind-natured blend of the even-tempered American Shorthair and the lively Siamese.
Cats’ nutrition needs depend on their age, gender, health issues, and activity levels. Free feeding can make them finicky eaters or lead to obesity problems, and it is best that owners keep to a schedule of set portions twice a day, with one serving of tinned wet food per day. Feeding only kibbles is not recommended, as breeders have expressed concerns that there is a link between a diet of only dry foods and renal failure and urinary tract infections. Generally, a Snowshoe’s diet should include foods rich in high-quality proteins, amino acids, vitamins and fatty acids, free of grain fillers, and with little-to-no meat by-products, as well as wet food for moisture. A balanced diet of wet food with lower phosphorous and protein levels is highly recommended for senior cats in order to prevent kidney failure.
Snowshoes are typically healthy cats and would usually require only visits to the vet for regular check-ups, vaccinations, de-worming, and teeth cleaning. Snowshoes should have their liver and kidney function monitored after the age of eight or nine. Occasionally, a Snowshoe may have some cosmetic flaws such as a kink in her tail or crossed eyes. These are merely remnants of her Siamese ancestry and don’t affect in any way her health or living arrangements.
The Snowshoe’s coat generally requires a brush once or twice a week to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils, and may require additional grooming in spring when they shed more profusely. The rest is basic grooming – brushing teeth at least once a week, regularly checking the ears for mites and cleaning them with a soft cotton ball and a pH-neutral solution. If the eyes are tearing, they should be wiped with pet wipes or a soft cloth dampened with warm water to prevent staining under the eyes.
Snowshoes adapt perfectly to house living and their pleasing disposition makes them ideal for families with children or first-time cat owners. They are intelligent and active cats who are typically fond of human company and would follow their owners around the house. They bond deeply with their family and do need company, so if their owners are going to be away for the good part of the day, they might consider having two cats to keep each other company. Snowshoes are vigorous and playful and can be taught tricks, how to fetch and walk on a harness. They need a variety of interactive toys and enjoy brain-stimulating activities to keep themselves entertained.