It’s a raccoon! It’s a red panda! Actually, it’s an ordinary house cat with extraordinary exotic features. Her name? The Snowshoe cat. Prepare to be charmed.
Though not a Siamese per se, the Snowshoe’s origins are based upon the talkative breed. In the early 1960s, Dorothy Hinds Daugherty, a breeder based in Philadelphia, found three kittens in a litter of Siamese, each with four white feet. This led her to create a breed with the brains and beauty of a Siamese, a medium-sized physique and all-white paws.
She dubbed her dreamed-of creation the Snowshoe and set to work bringing the feline to fruition. She crossed three white-footed Siamese with an American Shorthair who sported tuxedo markings to create the Snowshoe cat— a pointed feline with white markings on the feet, face and chest.
The Snowshoe cat is known for her markings, which is why the breed is so uncommon in the cat world — it’s not an easy feat to produce kittens with the appropriate coloring and patterns. In fact, breeders often find it necessary to breed the Snowshoe cat back to Siamese or Oriental Shorthairs in order to maintain the physical traits.
Snowshoe kittens are born completely white. As they age and reach maturity, their point color begins to develop!
A pointed cat has a light-colored body that is punctuated by dark areas (points) that come in colors such as chocolate, cream, red, lilac, blue, fawn, seal and cinnamon. The point locations are ears, tail, a raccoon-like mask around the eyes, and legs.
Is the Snowshoe cat chatty like Siamese? She is! However, while the Siamese is known for her loud voice, the Snowshoe cat has a soft, melodic trill that sounds like music to your ears. A trait that you will definitely view as a plus when you see how often she wants to vocalize her opinions to you!
The Snowshoe cat wears many hats — Mom, BFF, class clown. As Mom, she’ll show concern and ask about your day. As BFF, she’ll show a clingy, vulnerable side that calls for consoling. And as class clown, she’ll do everything in her power to entertain you. But yeah, when it comes down to it, she without a doubt has a bossy air to her.
Aside from being ridiculously active, the Snowshoe cat has brains to boot! Many learn to run feline agility courses and even enjoy taking a swim now and again. They are also trainable — learning to perform tricks, walk on a leash and open doors. And none can resist a game of fetch!
Snowshoes have retriever-like traits, which is a total plus because they are super social and actually thrive in households with other pets — including pups! So if you have a dog, chances are the two will forge a fast friendship!
This breed loves kids — as long as they treat her with the queen-like respect she deserves. The Snowshoe cat is a mellow breed that thrives on interaction, companionship and loads of love — all of the things children are known to dole out in droves!
Though the Snowshoe cat adores everyone in her family, she’s known to choose a favorite — someone who she’ll stick to like glue. She’ll also persuade her one true love into playing follow the leader with her — guiding the unsuspecting human to locations and items she finds interesting. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
One of the most famous Snowshoes is Dusty the Klepto Kitty — a domestic feline known for stealing more than 600 items from his neighbors (from bathing suits to dish towels). His claim to fame? Being featured on The Late Show with David Letterman in February 2011.
Erika Sorocco has been writing about cats for 14 years. She shares her home with one finicky feline (Gypsy), one crazy pup (Jake) and not enough closet space. Find her online chatting about beauty, fashion and furbabies at www.cateyesandskinnyjeans.com.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.