The Snowshoe cat is an extremely attractive breed that has grown in popularity over the years given that its outer looks are often coupled with a loving and affectionate character. In this guide to the breed, we look at other common characteristics that are seen within the Snowshoe as well as looking at some interesting facts about the breed as a whole. Their history and development is fascinating as well which explains how the pretty breed came into existence. They are a relatively new breed and have not been around for long, yet are growing in numbers at a phenomenal rate.
History of the Snowshoe Cat
The Snowshoe cat and its pretty looks first came from the United States in the 60s when a cat owner saw that a large amount of a litter of Siamese cats she had bred, all had four completely white feet. Her name was Dorothy Hinds Daugherty. She quite rightly saw that having four completely white feet made them extremely attractive and set about breeding them as a type of cat in their own right. As is often a good idea with cat breeding, she started to cross breed her Siamese kittens with four white feet with other domesticated cats. It is because of this, that she was able to introduce what is more widely known as the tuxedo markings on the Snowshoe. The V markings on their faces do not come from the Siamese side but from other strains of domesticated cats.
Some stalwart Siamese cat breeders were worried that as opposed to starting a new breed, Dorothy Hinds Daugherty was actually introducing unwanted elements to the Siamese breed as a whole. However, in the end, Siamese markings in the Snowshoe were simply accepted as the norm for that breed – not that the Snowshoe was a Siamese with a great deal of faults. This eventually meant that the Snowshoe was accepted as a breed of its own, that had drawn on many Siamese cats to enlarge the breed’s gene pool, and simply had many similarities with the Siamese.
Given that the Snowshoe was such an attractive cat, it was not long before the breed started to garner interest from other breeders. As a consequence, a wider, general standard was set. It was only in the late 90s, that the breed went international and Europeans started to breed the Snowshoe en masse too. Different gene pools were therefore added from the continent which had the added effect that the breed’s gene pool grew so that that it became stronger as a consequence.
They are now a popular cat owing to their kind companionship that is a feature of the breed. They are also one of the prettiest cats around given their taupe markings on white fur with iconic blue eyes.
Quick Facts About the Snowshoe Cat
- Their coloring develops over time
The Snowshoe cat is born with absolutely no markings and is completely white when first born. Their markings and colorings start to develop only a few weeks after they are born.
- They’re no fat cat
While there are definitely smaller breeds of cat out there, there are most definitely larger ones too. The average size of a Snowshoe cat is around 9 to 12 pounds for a male. A female will be slightly smaller at around 7 to 10 pounds. Therefore if you have a Snowshoe already that is much bigger than this, you may want to look to cutting back his or her food.
- They’re popular prey
If you live in a semi rural to rural area, it goes without saying that it may be a good idea to keep your cat as an indoor cat in general. However, the Snowshoe is also prone to being a victim of cat theft given how popular they are due to their markings and personality. Many Snowshoe owners have now taken to fitting their pet with a GPS collar.
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- They are literally a ball of energy
Snowshoe cats are full of energy which is good to know if you are considering buying one. They will require a great deal of interactive games with their owner to tire them out so that they spend most of an evening curled up on the sofa.
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- They’re tolerant
One of the reasons the Snowshoe makes a fantastic pet is because they are exceedingly tolerant of every person in the family. In general, they are great around kids of all ages too, though they should never be left alone with very young children who do not know how to behave with care around cats yet.
Things You Should Know
Snowshoes are wonderful cats and can make one of the best pets that a home could ask for. But that is not to say that they are not without their drawbacks or disadvantages that mean that they are not suitable for every home out there. Here, we look at a Snowshoe’s health, how to feed them, how to care for them, their temperament and how much grooming they require, so that you can make an informed decision if you are thinking about purchasing a Snowshoe for your home. That way, you will not undergo any undue stress as either the owner, but also for the cat itself if the fit is not quite right.
A Snowshoe cat can be expected to live between 9 to 15 years if they have been given a good diet throughout their life and been given the correct amount of care and attention that they require. In general, they do not have any breed specific issues, bar one hereditary health issue that can be common so ensure you buy a Snowshoe from a cat breeder who has had the stud cat tested for the condition.
The condition is called Autosomal dominant Polycystic kidney disease and is when a cat starts to develop cysts on their kidneys. These cysts will have been there from birth, however they grow as the cat ages. When the cysts get too big, they can sadly affect how well a cat’s kidneys functions. The kidneys are an extremely important organ and this condition can eventually cause complete kidney failure.
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The rate at which the cysts grow can vary from cat to cat, but often cats with the condition will not reach much older than 7 years old. The symptoms to be aware of so that you can have your cat tested for the condition are a loss of weight coupled with depression or lethargy. Cats may also be extremely thirsty all the time and need to urinate more than usual. It can also be seen to have vomiting as a symptom so take your cat to the vet if you are at all worried. Your vet will be able to diagnose the condition with an ultrasound and a genetic test.
There is sadly no treatment for this disease. The rate of growth of cysts on a cat’s kidneys cannot be slowed down nor can they be removed. Vets can only really treat or alleviate the symptoms of kidney failure when it starts.
As with all cats, once you purchase a Snowshoe, it’s a good idea to try to stick to the routine that the breeder first initiated when the cat was a kitten. Bearing this in mind, try to keep to the same kitten food for their meals when you first take them home as it means that you avoid any stomach upsets that may be caused from a change in diet that suddenly includes an ingredient that does not agree with your new pet. Obviously, over time you will need to change their food to an adult cat food, but do so slowly and gradually. By doing so, little by little, you will hopefully avoid any stomach upsets completely, given that young cats can have sensitive stomachs when they are young. Additionally, by gradually introducing new food, you will also be able to preempt if your cat has a sensitivity to a food without having to realise only when they have been fed a big portion of a food type that does not agree with them.
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Furthermore, as with all cats, the higher the quality of the food they have the better. Obviously, as a cat owner, you need to stick within our own budget, and some cat foods can be extremely expensive. However, giving them a high quality food means that hopefully you will be supporting them in living a healthy life that promotes well being. Their food is one of the best ways you can ensure that they have the best start in life and have all the vitamins and minerals they need to continue to grow and prosper.
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Snowshoes are fairly low maintenance cats who do not need any particular or specific attention past being fed good quality food and an owner who is happy to keep to a grooming regime. We discuss their grooming regime in more depth below. The most care and attention that a Snowshoe will need in its lifetime is when it is a kitten and when they are deemed as a senior cat. It is then that a good quality diet is even more important to their continued health and wellbeing. Otherwise, being so laid back and easy going means that owners only need to give them attention as and when they can.
In terms of costs, the initial purchase price for this type of cat is not as much as some breeds often are. Potential owners can expect to pay less than $300 for a new, well bred pedigree Snowshoe kitten. On top of this would be any insurance costs that owners choose to take out, which is often recommended given that we are never sure what may affect a cat’s health in future. This is a monthly outgoing for the rest of a cat’s life so it’s a good idea to factor it into your budget before splashing out on a new Snowshoe.
Other costs would include their food bill and other initial vet costs for their vaccinations as well as annual boosters. Many owners like to have their cats neutered or spayed too which again is one more additional cost to have in your budget.
Given that Snowshoes have a very short coat that is also dense and sits close to their skin, they are a fantastic option for those that don’t have time for a great deal of maintenance like other cat breeds sometimes demand. All that is needed for a Snowshoe is a brush down once a week and a rub with a cloth. If you choose a cloth like chamois leather you will find that you will be able to give your pretty cat a coat that has a wonderfully healthy sheen on it.
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In Spring, like other breeds, the Snowshoe will start to malt its coat in preparation for warmer weather and to get rid of any nasty fur that has outgrown its use. It will do the same in Autumn in preparation for the Winter to ensure that the fur that they do have is there to keep them warm and in optimum condition. Around these times, owners may want to brush their cat more regularly as this actually helps keeps homes cleaner as it means that all the cat fur that is loose and about to be shed, comes off in motion with the brush. It does make life that little bit easier for owners in the long run. They are not, however, a breed of cat that sheds a great deal of fur so it is easier to stay on top of their molting fur than with other cat types.
Otherwise, as all cats do, the Snowshoe needs to have its ears checked on a regular basis so it’s a good idea to try to do this while you are brushing them every week too. It’s a good routine for you both to get into and it ensures that there is never too much wax build up that will lead to a wider problem. By being aware of any blockages in your cat’s ears, you will be able to prevent any painful infection from starting which is then tricky to cure given that administering ear drops or similar is difficult. Additionally, ear mites are a problem that can affect all cats, so by regularly checking your cat’s ears during grooming sessions you are able to catch any issues from getting worse before they really take hold.
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The Snowshoe cat has some fairly standard characteristics when it comes to its temperament. For example, like so many other cats out there, the Snowshoe does not deal with change all that well and likes to have its routine. Bearing this in mind, many owners of a Snowshoe advocate feeding their cat at the same time of day, every day as well as trying not to move any furniture around within the home unless absolutely necessary.
Otherwise, Snowshoe cats tend to be wonderful pets for most homes owing to how laid back they are. They are quite easy going and are more sociable than other cat breeds. They definitely like to be one of the family and like to be involved as every family member would be otherwise. They are also extremely caring and like to bestow affection on anyone that lives within a home, though, like most cats they are more dedicated to the person that feeds them every day and takes care of them more than anyone else. This person will be on the receiving end of an extremely strong bond that their Snowshoe shares with them. It is this that makes their temperament better suited to a home that has one family member there at all times, or at least as often as possible. They are not as independent as other breeds and can suffer a little from separation anxiety that is more commonly seen in dogs.
Interestingly, the Snowshoe is also known for its talkative ways and are well liked for their chatty personality as well as the tone of their voice which is often thought of as kind and soft. Snowshoe owners often talk of how their cat is most talkative around their cat’s usual meal times, which is yet another example of one of their endearing traits.
The Snowshoe Cat – The Bottom Line
The Snowshoe is a fantastic breed of cat – there is no denying that it has a charming personality that matches it good looks in spades. However, that is not to say it will always suit every household, so it’s a good idea to take on board all of the above information before buying one if you are considering adding a Snowshoe to your family. While they are a low maintenance pet who is extremely easy going, they still have their own particular needs that an owner has to respond to and provide for so that they lead a happy and healthy life.
- Snowshoe, PetMD