The Snowshoe cat got its name not because of its ability to tread snow skilfully. Rather, it was due to its distinctive physical trait—white paws.
In the 1960s, a Siamese breeder from Philadelphia, USA named Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty found three kittens in a litter with a fault. All four of their paws were white. Despite not being favourable features in Siamese cats, Hinds-Daugherty found the quirk rather interesting. As such, she set about developing a new breed from this fault.
She crossed the white-pawed feline with a bi-colour American Shorthair. There have been accounts that she particularly used kitties with “tuxedo” markings. She later produced the kind of cat that has since been known as the Snowshoe.
Although the Siamese is one of its parent breeds, the Snowshoe cat does not resemble the colour-pointed feline. However, it did have the Siamese hallmark, which is the colour pointed marking.
Hinds-Daugherty later discontinued the breeding of the Snowshoe after it got no recognition even at local cat shows. Another breeder, Vikki Olander, took up the reins and continued developing the line. Her efforts eventually earned the breed an “experimental breed” recognition from the CFF and ACA. Later, more breeders got interested in the feline breed and helped develop it. In 1990, the Snowshoe gained champion status from the American Cat Fancier’s Association. In 1993, it got recognised by the ICA. It also has since been recognised by the Fédération Internationale Féline.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the development of the breed began in 1983. A Snowshoe Cat Club was later established. A concerted effort later emerged to bring the Snowshoe to full breed recognition by the GCCF. Today, these white-pawed wonders are gradually becoming popular in various parts of the world.