Monday, September 5, 2016

Cat Breeds: Snowshoe

It was the early 1960s when three kittens with snow white feet were born into an otherwise normal litter of Siamese. These kittens were noticed by Dorothy Hinds Daughtery, who found the combination both striking and appealing. She thought perhaps she had the makings of a new breed on her hands, so she kept the kittens an experiment.

Because of the unique features of the kittens, she thought it best to breed them to an American Shorthair. She chose a cat with tuxedo markings for her first cross. This mating would produce the characteristic "V" facial markings the Snowshoe would eventually become known for.

We don't really know a lot about the history or breedings that took place in those early years because records were poorly kept, if they were kept at all, and there was declining interest in this new breed anyway. By 1977, in fact, there was only a single breeder left in the United States. The Snowshoe very nearly died out, and would have if there hadn't been a sudden resurgence of interest in this aloof breed. But there was, and this brought the cat back from the very edge of extinction.

By 1989 there were nearly thirty breeders across the country. It became obvious the Snowshoe was both interesting and unique, so TICA granted this cute cat Championship Status in 1994. Since then it has only grown in popularity.

The Appearance of the Snowshoe

Weighing no more than 12 pounds, the Snowshoe is medium in size and has a powerful body. He is long and muscular with a triangular head and large, expressive ears. Eyes should be round and range in color from a stark blue to a paler blue-gray.

The coat of all Snowshoe kittens is white at first. Snow white, actually. But this changes quickly, leaving only the feet and a "V" on the face white, as the body turns to cream and the points darken to their adult color, beginning at around two or three weeks of age. Common colors include blue point and seal point. Chocolate point and lilac point do exist, but these are not bred for and are considered rare and less desirable.

The hair is short and lays close to the body in a single layer. This makes grooming easy. Run a rubber brush over your feline friend once a week and call it done.

The Personality of the Snowshoe

Because this cat is a combination of the American Shorthair and the Siamese, he has inherited the temperament of both. Tending towards curious and aloof, the Snowshoe bonds to one specific person, not an entire family. With this person he will cuddle, play, and even talk in the melodious voice so common among Siamese blends. He'll demand attention, but he also needs stimulation. Because he is so intelligent and inquisitive, he'll need toys and other items to keep his attention. He will be destructive if he's too bored, so invest in some toys and climbing trees for when you're not around.

As happy and affectionate as this guy can be, he's not great with other people. Or other cats. Or dogs. Or really anything else. He loves his one person and that's about it. The Snowshoe does best in a quiet home with an affectionate human to spend his days with.

If you're looking for a cat with a unique look and a budding personality, the Snowshoe might be for you. If you have a calm home for him to settle in to.

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