Snowshoe cat breed: the cat with a special pattern

László Enikő

2023. November 21 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

It's not hard to guess where the name comes from: the distinctive white legs look like a kitten wearing socks. This particular phenomenon is the result of a natural genetic mutation, which is why breeding to standards is so difficult.


The Snowshoe cat is a rare breed, partly due to the difficulty of breeding cats with markings and patterns that conform to breed standards. The snowshoe pattern relies on recessive genes and other factors to achieve the desired results. One gene that causes the “V” facial pattern. If the offspring born have two dominant genes, which is necessary for the pattern, the trait will be greater than a kitten with one dominant gene. However, other factors may influence the trait, making it difficult to predict the outcome. Another problem is white boots, which can be caused by the “sock” gene. The genes are difficult to control and many cats’ socks are overly stretched, do not reach up the leg far enough, or the cat lacks whiteness altogether. Therefore, many cats with snowshoes tend to have either too many or too few white markings, or they are in the wrong place. The body conformation of the kittens further complicates breeding, as the breeder must achieve the correct head shape and ear set while the animal retains its American Shorthair body conformation and Siamese length.


The breed originated in Philadelphia and was established in the 1960s when three white-legged kittens were born in Dorothy Hind-Daugherty’s Siamese breeding farm. Because she liked the unique trait, she thought it was worth breeding these kittens. So she crossed Siamese with American Shorthairs. However, the new breed was not very successful after several years of breeding, so Dorothy gave up. In the 1970s, however, Vikki Olander took over from her, but for a few years she was the only one who would breed the snowshoe cat. Over time, however, other people became interested in the breed and by the 1980s and 1990s, more and more organisations had officially recognised it. It has an expected life expectancy of 14 to 20 years.

Breed standard

The Snowshoe cat is a medium-sized, short-haired breed. The body is angular and muscular. Body weight up to 6 kg. The head is slightly wedge-shaped with rounded lines and a straight profile. The ears are moderately large, forward looking, broader than the ears and rounded at the tips. Eyes large, slanted and nut-shaped. Their colour is bright blue. Many individuals have a white mark running down the face in an inverted V shape. The neck is moderately long and the legs are proportionate to the rest of the body. Paws are round and moderately large and stocky. Tail medium long, gradually thinning towards the end. Coat short, slightly coarse to the touch and shiny. It is most commonly seen in seal and blue colour variations, but can also be purple, chocolate, red, cream and tortoise, however these shades are not accepted by all organisms. Kittens are born white and will start to show darker markings at 1-3 weeks of age.


The Snowshoe cat has a unique personality and is always exciting to live with. This kitty can easily be the master of the house, but is also eager to entertain, demand your attention and communicate with you. Is a very active, smart and affectionate cat, but he is reserved with strangers. He loves to be stroked and listened to. He loves to spend time on his owner’s lap, which is rewarded with a loud purr. He is very intelligent and often learns how to open the door. But you can also use his wits to teach him tricks. He also likes to fetch, and many of them even like water. He is an active cat who often spends time on top of the bookshelf or fridge, where he can check what’s going on.

Due to its Siamese heritage, the Snowshoe cat is generally vocal, although not as much as its aforementioned relative. Fortunately, it has a soft, melodious voice that is pleasant to the ear. He’s happy to listen to you tell him about your day, but he’ll also speak up if he wants something.

Ideal environment

The Snowshoe cat is a kind and good-natured cat who generally gets along well with other pets, including dogs. However, the companionship of a loving owner is certainly the most important thing. He has a much greater need for attention than other cats, as he finds it very difficult to be alone. It is a cat for an owner who spends a lot of time at home and enjoys spending time with his purring pet.


The coat of the breed is easy to maintain. It is sufficient to comb through the coat once or twice a week to remove dead hairs and to disperse the sebum. Claws should be trimmed if they become too long and teeth should be cleaned regularly. A soft, damp cloth should be used to wipe the eyes from time to time. To avoid possible infections, use a separate area of the cloth for each eye. Check the cleanliness of the ears weekly. If they appear dirty, wipe them with a cotton pad or a soft, damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water. As all cats are fastidious about apple cleanliness, make sure that your snowshoe cat’s tray is always spotless.

Common health problems

The Snowshoe cat is a very healthy breed. He may occasionally have a crooked tail or squinting eyes – traces of his Siamese ancestry – but these aesthetic flaws do not affect his health or his ability to be a great companion.

(Literature: János Szinák – István Veress: Macskakalauz, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Best friend, the cat)

American shorthair cat breed description cat in snowshoes short-haired cat Siamese species description

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