Snowshoe Cat

The Snowshoe Cat is a rare and relatively new breed of cat originating in the United States of America. Snowshoes were first produced in Philadelphia when a breeder's Siamese cat gave birth to three kittens with the pattern. The breeder, Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty, began to promote the cat and began a breeding program dedicated to them. When Hinds-Daugherty left the program, Vikki Olander began working with the cats and recruited new breeders, as well as worked towards full recognition within cat associations. Despite having existed for 45 years, Snowshoes are rare due to the difficulty of reproducing the correct coat markings. The marks are based on recessive genes for color points and on the co-dominant but variably-expressed piebald pattern gene, making it difficult to predict the appearance of offspring.

The coat coloration recognized by registries and associations is point coloration, and it comes in a variety of colors, though some associations do not recognize certain colors. Snowshoe cats have an affectionate and docile disposition. Due to this, they do not do well under circumstances where they are left alone for long periods of time. Snowshoes are also very vocal, though their voices are not as loud as the Siamese, a cat found in their breed heritage. They are noted as being very intelligent and have the ability to learn tricks and open doors. The cats also enjoy water, and may swim on some occasions.

Popularity and breeding

The Snowshoe is a rare breed, partly due to the difficulty of breeding cats with markings and patterns that conform well to breed standards. The Snowshoe's pattern relies on recessive genes and other factors to produce desired results. One gene, which causes the "V" facial pattern is an example of incomplete dominance. If the offspring produced as two dominant genes for the marking, then the feature will be larger than a cat with one dominant gene. However, other factors may influence the feature, which makes it difficult to predict the outcome. Another issue is the white boots, which can be caused by a pie balding gene or a gloving gene. The genes are difficult to control, and many cats' boots extend too far up the leg, do not reach far enough up the leg, or the cat completely lacks white. As such, pet quality Snowshoes usually have too much white, too little white, or white features are mismarked. The cats' body type further complicates breeding, as the breeder must achieve the correct head shape and ear set, while still maintaining the American Shorthair's body structure and the length of the Siamese.


The ear size ranges from medium to medium-large with slightly rounded tips. The head may be triangular, however can be an "applehead" shape with a traditional cat look. The short-haired coat consists of solid and white patterns. Points (ears, tail, face-mask and sometimes legs) are solid black-based colors. White patterns vary, typically falling along the face, chest, stomach, and paws. The body is an even coloration, subtle shading to point color on back, shoulders and hips; toning to a lighter shade near chest and stomach. Paw pads may be white, point color, flesh tone, or mottled. Their color will darken with age, even to the point of turning a chocolate brown shade. In purebreds, the eyes are always blue. The tail is medium-sized. Snowshoe cats come in blue, lilac, lynx, fawn, chocolate, and seal points. The Snowshoe is a medium-large cat and longer length wise than many cats, with many males reaching 18lbs or more.


In registries and cat associations, the recognized Snowshoe coat color is point coloration, with a light body color and darker ears, face mask, legs, and tails. The American Cat Fanciers Association and the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts recognize seal point coloration and blue point coloration while the Fédération Internationale Féline recognizes seal, blue, black, chocolate, red, cream, cinnamon, and fawn point coloration. The International Cat Association recognizes all pointed colors. Snowshoe kittens are born white, and markings appear within 1 to 3 weeks; each Snowshoe has a pattern unique to themselves.

The Snowshoe's coat should be of medium to short in length, and should be bright and smooth. It is considered a fault within cat associations if the Snowshoe has a plush or double coat, and should not have a noticeable undercoat. The Snowshoe's coat undergoes seasonal changes and does not require much grooming.


Snowshoes are generally affectionate and sweet-tempered, yet still mellow. They enjoy the company of humans and being petted, and are compatible with children and other pets. Snowshoes are very social and docile, and show great devotion and love towards their owners. Consequently, the breed dislike being left alone for long periods of time and are able to cope with working hours more if they have another cat companion. Snowshoes may express themselves and their complaints vocally, though their meows are not as loud as the Siamese. The cats are also noted as being intelligent; they can learn to open various types of doors, and can be taught tricks, especially fetch. Snowshoes also enjoy water, particularly running water, and may on occasion swim. Though very active, they are not restless or easily agitatable, and they have a fondness for perching and high places.

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