Aptly named on account of its white feet, the Snowshoe is a rare breed that originated in the 1960s. Observed in a litter owned by Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty of Pennsylvania, United States, were three handsome kittens with white feet and white pointing. Instantly taken by the unusual cats, Dorothy decided to selectively breed the pointed kittens to preserve their unique characteristics. Dorothy initially attempted a cross between seal-point Siamese and American Shorthairs of the bicolour variation, although the results were disappointing. She then bred the offspring back to Siamese and was delighted with the resulting litter of white-footed kittens. Various other breeders have contributed to the development of the Snowshoe, which was officially recognised by the International Cat Association in 1993.
The Snowshoe is highly distinctive in appearance and structure and possesses many unique features. Its short, close-fitting coat does not develop its pointing until the cat has matured, meaning a Snowshoe cat is usually pure white for the start of its life. The breed is further characterised by a medium, stocky build, mid-length ears with rounded tips, striking blue eyes, and a head that is relatively small and shaped like a wedge. The coat is typically observed in the same colours as the Siamese – anything from seal, lilac and blue, to cream, fawn, red and cinnamon. The coat can be easily maintained with regular grooming. Snowshoes are known to enjoy frolicking in water and are not deterred by it. Rare due to its stringent breed standard, producing a Snowshoe cat is a difficult task with many aspects to consider.
Owners and enthusiasts describe the Snowshoe as a delightful character with a playful and affectionate nature that is well suited to domestic living. Compatible with children and other house pets, the Snowshoe does not respond with to being left alone for long periods of time but rather enjoys the attention and companionship of its people. With a natural love of water and climbing, the Snowshoe is profoundly capable and will make it on top of your wardrobe with great ease. It is also a highly trainable breed that can be taught tricks and will in many respects behave like a dog. On average, a healthy Snowshoe will weigh 8-12 pounds, with a typical life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Due to the rarity of the Snowshoe, determining any breed-specific health conditions is difficult. The Snowshoe is generally thought to be very healthy and resilient, and is not known to suffer from any genetic diseases or afflictions.