What is a Snowshoe cat? Do they enjoy the snow? How exactly did they get their name? Read on to have your questions answered and to learn more about this not-so-common cat.
Compared to many other cat breeds, which have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years, the Snowshoe is a fairly new cat. Around the late 1960s, a Philadelphia-based Siamese cat breeder was given rather a shock when she discovered three kittens in a litter with unusual markings. The kittens had the predicted Siamese pattern on their body, but their feet were surprisingly all marked white—making them appear to be wearing white mittens or socks.
The Philadelphia breeder quickly fell in love with this new coat marking. Together with the help of another cat breeder, they began crossing Siamese cats with American Shorthairs in hopes of more cats having white-colored feet. However, it was quickly discovered that this coloration was difficult to reproduce, seeing how it was a recessive trait.
Over the next few decades, various cat breeders took an interest in Snowshoe cats. Some even began crossing the Siamese with the Oriental Shorthairs in order to maintain particular traits within the Snowshoe breed. Today, these cats remain most common in the United States, although there is evidence that they have found homes all around the world. Despite their population being highest in the U.S., these cats are still not that common—so don’t be surprised if you have never seen one!
There is much to learn about the show-stopping Snowshoe cat.
Perhaps their most recognizable feature is their white-colored feet. Appearing as if they are wearing white socks and mittens, or as if they just stepped in a pile of snow, it’s not difficult to see how these cats first got their name.
Besides their signature white markings, Snowshoes can also be recognized by their beautiful colors. Similar to that of a Siamese, Snowshoes have point coloration on their coat, meaning their body is lighter in color with darker legs, ears, face, and tail. Body colors are oftentimes a light cream or tan, but other colors can include lilac, seal, blue, or chocolate.
Due to their short coat and low shedding tendencies, it may be assumed Snowshoe cats are hypoallergenic. But, technically, no, Snowshoes are not a hypoallergenic cat breed, so if you have a cat allergy, this is may not the breed for you.
These medium-sized, athletic cats have a solid build, and they typically weigh between 7-12 pounds, males averaging a higher weight than females. They have stunning blue eyes, which can vary slightly in shade, and they almost always have an inverted ‘V’ of white fur in between their eyes.
Since these cats are rather rare, many people naturally wonder, “How long do Snowshoe cats live?” On average, the lifespan of a Snowshoe cat can range anywhere from 14-20 years.
Did You Know?
Snowshoe kittens are born all white. Within the first 3 weeks, their patterns and darker colors will begin to appear on their coat.
The charming Snowshoe cat personality makes them a wonderful companion, friend, and roommate. These cats adore spending time with their family, and they will often even pick one family member to be “their person.”
These cats get along well with other cats and dogs, and they are an excellent choice for a household with kids. As with any animal, it is important to teach kids how to interact with them safely, and it is recommended to supervise animal interactions with younger children.
Because Snowshoes enjoy being around their family, they do not do well with being left alone for long periods of time. Although, some Snowshoe parents have discovered that by providing fur friend, such as another cat or a dog, their cat does not get lonely and remains entertained throughout the day.
It is not uncommon for these cats to be hesitant or shy around strangers, but more often than not, they will warm up to the new houseguests in no time. As for people that the Snowshoe is familiar with, they will oftentimes want to curl up on your lap, play practically any type of game (including fetch), or accompany you through the house while they talk your ear off. Getting their vocal tendencies from their Siamese ancestors, Snowshoes talk frequently, but thankfully their voice is softer and kinder to your ears.
Snowshoe cats have a short to medium-length coat that has a smooth, shiny appearance. These cats do not have a plush or double coat, so shedding is kept to a minimum. In order to help keep their coat healthy, it is best to brush your Snowshoe cat twice a week.
All other grooming items for this breed are fairly routine. Your cat’s ears should be checked regular and cleaned when necessary. If you have any questions on what you should be checking for, how to safely clean your cat’s ears, or which cleaning product to use, talk to your veterinarian about helpful tips and product recommendations.
Don’t forget, your cat’s nails may need trimmed about once per month, and it is also extremely important to brush your cat’s teeth at least once a week, but even more frequently doesn’t hurt.
When it comes to grooming, it is always best to introduce your feline friend to each item as soon as possible. Acclimating your cat to their grooming routine early on will help them become more comfortable with each item, and it will help eliminate unwanted future stress for both you and your cat. After giving it some time, if your cat is still not fond of being groomed, try making the experience more positive and rewarding.
Check out some easy, homemade cats treat recipes that could help your feline start to enjoy their grooming routine.
A key part of providing your Snowshoe cat with proper care is to fill their days with mental and physical stimulation. A bored cat will frequently become destructive, and a lazy cat can very well become overweight.
Obesity is something that can affect any feline. Once overweight, your cat can quickly build up a list of other health problems, which can even lead to a shortened lifespan. Besides exercise, another great way to manage your cat’s weight and overall health is to give them a nutritious and age-appropriate diet.
Having another cat or a dog in your house can help keep your Snowshoe entertained, especially when they are home alone. It is additionally beneficial to provide your cat with a variety of toys and a climbing tower—Snowshoes, in particular, love to perch themselves up on high surfaces.
Did You Know?
Rotating which toys your cat (or dog) can access can help ensure that they do not become bored with their toy selection. Not only will this keep your cat entertained, but it will also save you from having to buy new toys all the time.
Common Health Issues
When it comes to the Snowshoe breed, they have a relatively clean bill of health, albeit they can still be susceptible to some issues. According to our claims data,* the top five issues that affect this breed include,
- Back problems
- Unsettled stomach
- Dental disease
- Respiratory issues
Due to their Siamese ancestry, Snowshoes, on occasion, will have a kinked tail or crossed eyes. These physical differences are simply cosmetic, and they rarely, if ever, cause any further health issues. In fact, most Snowshoes with these traits can go on to live a completely normal and happy life.
Snowshoe cats are undeniably a fascinating and unique breed, so there is always more to learn.
- Snowshoe cats are extremely intelligent. They can oftentimes figure out how to open doors, or they can be taught tricks.
- These cats have a fondness for water. Unlike most cats that want nothing to do with water, many Snowshoes will gladly jump in the bathtub or splash around in a shallow bin of water while they play.
- Everyone’s favorite frowny-face feline, Grumpy Cat, was a mixed breed cat. However, with a quick glance at her coat markings, many people have little doubt that she had some Snowshoe in her ancestry.
- Although the Snowshoe was officially born in the 1960s, there is evidence that they could have appeared years before. Pictured in an old, Victorian photograph of a purebred Siamese litter, there is a kitten that has four white feet. Additionally, depicted on an old Japanese silk-screen, there is yet another cat with similar markings, including white feet.
- Before taking the name ‘Snowshoe,’ these cats were originally called ‘Silver Laces.’
- Besides Grumpy Cat, perhaps the next most famous Snowshoe is Dusty the Klepto Kitty. This California residing cat, when out on his nightly strolls through the neighborhood, began stealing peoples’ items. In total, Dusty has stolen more than 600 miscellaneous items from various gardens.
From their fascinating history to their intellectual ways, Snowshoes are truly a one-of-a-kind cat.
After choosing and welcoming a new cat into your family, perhaps the next most important decision is giving them a name. Check out some of these snow and winter-inspired names below.
- Alba- Latin for bright white
- Aubin- French for “snow”
- Eirwen- Welsh name meaning “white as snow”
- Lumi- Finnish for “snow”
- Olwen- Welsh name meaning “white footprint”
- Wren- a winter bird
There’s no doubt that if you are ever lucky enough to cross paths with one of these white-pawed beauties, you will fall in love before you even know what happened.
*Internal Claims Data, 2014-2019
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.