Originally from the US, the Snowshoe certainly has lots of fans thanks to its interesting appearance and unique character. There are always sweet surprises with a litter of Snowshoe kittens: at the time of their birth, they are still entirely white and only show different colouration as they develop. The first colours are visible around ten days after these beautiful creatures are born.
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The Snowshoe: A sensitive beauty for experienced cat owners.
A white-socked tabby beauty
The Snowshoe is a medium-sized heavy cat with a slim but strong stature that can be attributed to its Siamese ancestors. It has a medium-length throat and strong muscles with a slight curvature. The Snowshoe is the largest and heaviest of the Siamese cats. This beautiful cat breed has a wedge-shaped head, large pointy ears and striking blue almond- to walnut-shaped eyes. Their characterful face is shaped by a white inverted V and stands out with its high cheekbones. The tail with its kinked end emphasises the elegant appearance. These stunning cats have straight medium to long legs.
The “snowshoes” on the paws that lend these cats their name are lower set on the front than rear legs. They have exactly the same fur colour as their Siamese ancestors, with seal and blue proving particularly popular colours. Snowshoes are short-haired point cats with white spotting and fur that lies close to the body. Point is the term used for cats with light fur, whilst the cooler parts of the body – areas known as points like the face, ears, legs and tail – are darker in colour. The Snowshoe comes in all Siamese colours: red, cream, seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, tabby-pointed, fawn-pointed, cinnamon and tortoise shell-pointed. Female Snowshoes reach 2.5 to 5kg in weight, whilst males weigh from 4 to 6kg.
Needs tranquility and good company
Snowshoes are self-confident, bold, curious, intelligent and headstrong. However, whilst they are very sensitive with a strong need for tranquility, they also don’t appreciate being alone. Snowshoes are by nature very drawn to people, but they also love the presence of other cats. Hence, the ideal scenario is to keep them together with their siblings.
Snowshoes also generally get on well with dogs. You can find some advice here about cats and dogs cohabiting. Since Snowshoes like to play, they are suited for contact with children in this respect. However, small children can run contrary to their need for calm. This set-up is therefore not recommended, since the mellow nature of these cats doesn’t agree with loud environments!
Snowshoes have many facets that make them exciting and very pleasant to live with. The traits of their progenitors create a unique mix, since they combine the curiosity and temperament of the Siamese with the calm and composure of the American Shorthair. It’s very important that you as a potential owner address the needs of the Snowshoe so that you can both enjoy your time together.
Consequently, Snowshoes will probably feel at ease with an owner who needs just as much tranquility as they do. However, they are talkative at the same time. This is seen as a positive trait because they have a nice purr. Owners of Snowshoes should be very empathetic and able to develop an instinct for when the stimulants of the surrounding area overwhelm their beloved cat. Give your cat the opportunity to retreat to its cosy den or another safe place if there are too many external stimuli.
Human housemates should offer their cat plenty of stimulation with good company and by playing together. You’re best off challenging their intelligence and curiosity with intelligence toys. What’s more, Snowshoes need opportunities to hunt, since they are good at it and like to develop this talent. They also enjoy climbing. When they aren’t hunting, playing or climbing – or even when they are – Snowshoes exude a wonderful sense of calm that transmits to the humans close to them.
History and Breeding
Quirks of nature
These beautiful cats with tabby fur originally came about by mere coincidence, as was implicated with the origin of numerous cat breeds. At the end of the 1960s in Philadelphia, the cat breeder Dorothy Hinds-Daughtery received a litter of Siamese cats that had “snowshoes” on the paws. Sources are controversial on the subject of further development. Some claim that this attractive feature was initially viewed as a negative, an aberration of nature. After all, the opposite effect was desired – the Siamese’s typically dark legs rather than the Snowshoe’s white “socks”.
The supposed problem was solved by crossing short-haired breeds (bicolour American Shorthairs) with Siamese cats. This created a new breed known for its striking white paws and typical “facial mask” in the form of an inverted V. The breed was much in demand, though primarily in the US at first. According to other sources, the original breeder was happy with the quirk of nature that resulted in the white paws and used targeted breeding to encourage this appearance.
The Snowshoe was presented at exhibitions in the 1960s, although it only received recognition as an “experimental breed” a few years later. Not until 1974 did the American breeding associations CFF (Cat Fanciers Federation) and ACA (American Cat Breeder) add the Snowshoe to their breed register. At the end of the 1970s, it initially appeared that this new breed would immediately die out, since there were just four registered specimens. Thankfully, it was possible to encourage more Snowshoe breeders to come forward. After revising the breed standard and register rules, the Snowshoe was recognised by the CFF in 1982 and by the American breeding associations TICA and ACFA in 1989. Thanks to numerous reports in specialist publications, the Snowshoe eventually gained well-deserved attention on an international level.
Diet for Snowshoes
Like true Americans, Snowshoes largely enjoy eating meat. They need a very high proportion of meat in order to consume sufficient fat and protein. Snowshoes have a rather restricted diet, since they cannot process carbohydrates properly and in some circumstances can become obese by consuming them. This could also lead to diabetes at a later stage. If in doubt, always ask your trusted vet, who will happily give you expert advice on your Snowshoe’s dietary habits. Your cat decides the rest.
Your cat eating its food enthusiastically is an unmistakeably positive sign. Amongst other things, portion size is determined by whether your cat has outdoor access or remains indoors and whether it is sterilised or castrated. Snowshoes like to eat during the course of the day, so their food should always be fresh and accessible. You shouldn’t give them too many treats. It’s important to meet your cat’s nutritional requirements.
The care demands are manageable for Snowshoes due to their short fur. It’s sufficient to brush them once or several times a week in order to remove dead hairs so that less end up in their digestive tract. Brushing in itself is also good for your cat and strengthens the connection between the two of you.
Up until now, it is not yet known if there are any diseases typical of the breed. This can probably be attributed to the fact that the breed hasn’t been in existence for too long. Typical feline diseases have been observed in connection to the Snowshoe, but there are no specific diseases that can be traced back to special breeding. However, it’s likely in principle that the Snowshoe could end up with similar breed-specific diseases to the Siamese due to their Siamese origins. You should have your Snowshoe undergo basic vaccinations for cat colds and panleukopenia as early as the kitten phase. Outdoor cats should also be vaccinated against rabies and leukosis. Definitely keep in mind the subsequent booster injections too.
The right Snowshoe breeder
Definitely don’t buy kittens from a “hobby breeder” who doesn’t belong to an association. You can sometimes find irresponsible offers in classified ads, which mainly stand out due to eye-catchingly low prices. They come from individuals who breed without precise knowledge of genetics. You’re advised against taking up such offers. If you would like a Snowshoe, definitely go to a serious breeder who can show you the cat’s family tree. This is only way you can be sure that you are getting a cat that isn’t genetically at risk and thereby stands a very good chance of living a healthy life with you.