The Snowshoe cat is often called the Snowshoe Siamese cat. But are Snowshoe cats really Siamese?
Well, it's complicated. And, as usual, it's all about their breeding.
Snowshoe cats are related to Siamese cats as they were developed by crossing the Siamese with the American Shorthair cat.
They were first bred in the United States, and combine the stocky body shape of the American Shorthair with the longer body of the Siamese.
This makes them medium-sized (ideally, not too big and not too small!), short-haired, well-muscled, athletic cats, with medium-length legs and a body type more like the American Shorthair or Applehead than the very slim, long, modern-day Siamese.
White noses (they should have a white upside-down V-shape that extends down between the eyes and out over the nose and muzzle) and four white boots (the front ones should be more like mittens, shorter than the hind ones).
This gives their feet the appearance of having been dipped in snow – which gave rise to the 'snow shoe' Siamese name.
Champion Snowshoe - Mr. Slinky
See the white feet and perfect inverted 'V' on the face?
photo: © Cooseman22 at the English Wikipedia project
Like their full-blooded cousins, they have bright blue eyes that should be walnut-shaped (rather than the Siamese almond-shape) and lively personalities.
They are intelligent, sociable cats with an extremely friendly temperament that makes them ideal as family pets, and they have softer voices than most Siamese cats (which many might consider a blessing!)
Snowshoes are recognized by the American Cat Fanciers' Association, Cat Fanciers' Federation, TICA, and the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
Championship status was granted to the breed in 1990 by the ACFA.
They are produced in all the Siamese point colors, including tabby (lynx) and tortie, although not all colors are accepted by all registries for showing purposes.
The breed is not currently recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association, although efforts are being made to have the Snowshoe cat breed accepted by the CFA.
We see a lot of cats with Snowshoe markings coming through this site, and although these cats don't have the registration papers to allow them to be considered pedigree Snowshoes, they're often just as pretty!
photo: courtesy of and © Liz Briggs
For example, the cat above is Rocky, whose photo was sent in by one of our
visitors and who has the four white feet and almost perfect white
upside-down 'V' over his nose and mouth.
Doesn't he look like pedigree champion Mr. Slinky, above?
And this lovely girl Tara (below) has similar Snowshoe facial markings.
We think she's a seal tortie (or seal tortie-lynx) point because she has one dark brown, and one reddish/tan colored ear and a brown/tan-colored mottled, stripy tail.
both photos: courtesy of and © Akyra Ingalls
And here's another boy, JR, who also has partial Snowshoe markings:
photo: courtesy of and © Janet McDonald
Because of their ancestry, Snowshoe cats are very commonly referred to as Snowshoe Siamese, but this name isn't actually right.
This is because many cat associations rule that when new breeds are accepted, they must have a breed name that is unique to them, and quite different to other already registered breeds.
So, in order for the Snowshoe to be accepted as a breed in its own right, it couldn't be called the Snowshoe Siamese because there was already a Siamese breed.
So the correct name is just Snowshoe.
When this type of cat was first bred in the 1950s, it went by the name of 'Silver Laces'. If that name had been kept, it might have saved a lot of confusion!
If you have a Snowshoe yourself and would like to find out more about this rare, funny, intelligent breed, you might enjoy The Snowshoe Cats Owner's Manual, by Harvey Hendisson, which takes a detailed look at the characteristics and care of Snowshoes.
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