Here is some information on the Snowshoe. They are wonderful cats. I had one He was a big lover boy. Good luck in your search.
by Julia Munde
Earlier this spring, 2002, while at a TICA show, a judge had my friend's Snowshoe kitten up on the stand. Paraphrasing her remarks to the sprinkling of exhibitors seated in front, she commented that the Snowshoes had actually been around for nearly 40 years and accepted for championship status in TICA for nearly ten. It was only recently, however, that she had begun to see them with any regularity. "Before I might see a handful of Snowshoes the entire season," she said, "Now, they seem to be popping up at every other show."
Of course, being totally dottie about this breed, it buoyed my spirits to hear this. Still, my crankier side wondered: WHAT HAPPENED THIS PAST DECADE? Why has it taken us this long to get here? Other breeds, much more recent than the Snowshoes, have seemingly zipped past us.
Piecing together the answer to this has been challenging. The reason is complicated and still somewhat controversial. Even though I am fairly new to this breed, and to the fancier world in general, I believe that our story has lessons for other breed clubs and touches upon some issues that many clubs have faced. At the heart is the question: What makes a breed a breed?
Once Upon a Time, There Was a White-Mitted Siamese . . . .
A moderate cat, the Snowshoe is styled after the Classic Siamese - midway between their round, sturdy Applehead cousins and their sleek and aerodynamic Modern Siamese relatives - but dressed to the nines in their Tuxedo-styled duds.
The first effort to create a white-on-point color Oriental cat went under the name of "Silver Laces." With markings similar to the Birman's gloving, this new breed was unable to establish itself and faded away.
It was not until Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty, a Siamese breeder with Kensing Cattery in Philadelphia, Pa., took up the cause in the early 60s that the forerunner of today's modern Snowshoe emerged. It all started when her Siamese queen had a litter of three mitted babies, indicating the presence of the recessive white spotting factor, which is carried by some Siamese. The queen never repeated this pattern, but intrigued by the look, Hinds-Daughtery sought to replicate it by breeding a Siamese with a bicolor domestic shorthair. The extra dose of the white spotting factor was the innovation here, resulting in a mitted cat that also had a facial pattern. It ranges from an inverted V-shape that covers the nose, to a blaze, star on the forehead, a spot under the chin, or a half-V. (There's actually a dizzying array of possible white on point or ground color combinations, leading me to view the capricious white spotting factor as the trickster god of the genetic pantheon.)
Hard-working Vikki Olander of Furr-Lo Cattery in Norfolk, Virginia wrote the first polished standard and achieved this breed experimental status in CFF. Despite her valiant efforts, by the mid 70s she was the sole Snowshoe breeder in the U.S. In 1977, there were only four registered Snowshoes.
Without a broader base of support, the Snowshoe's future looked bleak. Two breeders independently contacted Olander, and together they established positive momentum. By 1982, CFF accepted the Snowshoes for championship status. The Snowshoe cause got a further boast by articles that appeared on the breed in Cat Fancy and Cats shortly thereafter.
In the early-80s, a handful of breeders banded together and lobbied ACFA and TICA to recognize this breed. Both organizations accepted this new breed for experimental status in the 1982. ACFA advanced the Snowshoes to championship status by the end of this decade, and TICA followed suit in 1994.
The Evolution of the Standard
In the beginning, while still NBC status, the ACFA and TICA Snowshoes standards closely resembled one another. In brief, they described a moderate, semi-Oriental cat, with longish legs and torso, set apart by its white boots and an inverted V facial pattern. The major difference was that ACFA only recognized the seal and blue point colors, while TICA also recognized Lilac, Chocolate and even left the door open for Cinnamons and Fawns (two colors that have yet to be cultivated.)
And then it was a steady march onto fame and glory? Not quite . . .
A general rule of thumb is that only 10 percent of the kittens of any breed should be show quality. Afterall, the standard supposedly represents an ideal. If more fit the bill, the standard is too lax. Perhaps 10 percent of a large, robust breeding community might produce a viable number, but the Snowshoe community was just getting going and it would be a banner year when eight, let alone 10 percent, were borm with the much coveted Inverted V facial pattern and perfect mittens. More importantly, the premium placed on the pattern caused many breeders to concentrate upon this aspect while ignoring conformation. Instead of converging on a consistent look, the breed's type began to diverge. Not a good thing!
It gets back to what makes a breed a breed. The folded-in ears of the American Fold are its defining attribute, but would any cat with folded ears presumably qualify as an American Fold? Of course not! Since the inverted V does not breed as consistently as the clustering of genes that controls for the gloving on the feet, many Snowshoes had excellent conformation and good markings, but not the preferred facial pattern. Did it make sense to exclude them from the show ring?
The TICA Snowshoe breed committee's answer was 'no.' In 1994, the same year it won championship satus, it revised the standard, opening it up to Snowshoes with a variety of facial markings, and even no facial markings at all. There is still an emphasis on breeding for symmetrical markings and eye-pleasing patterns, but not at the expense of conformation.
This was a controversial decision and not without its critics. The Inverted-V uber alles faction claimed it was the breed's undoing, making the case that the preferred pattern was akin to a Border Collie or Hereford cow: the pattern was not arbitrary, but the Snowshoe breed's defining factor. Without it, a Snowshoe simply wasn't a Snowshoe or at least not a show-quality Snowshoe. Many stuck with ACFA, which still encodes the preferred pattern concept in its standard, although it has chipped away at the number of points allocated to this category.
To the TICA Snowshoe community, removing this seemingly artificial barrier was a critical move. It has allowed them to put equal - if not greater - emphasis on breeding for type as well as breeding for an eye-pleasing pattern. In turn this has reinforced the breed's viability. The number of exhibitors are growing, the breed is becoming more widely recognized, more reputable breeders are attracted to working with the Snowshoes, and the community is making strides on honing in on a consistent conformation. As the judge's statement earlier this spring indicates, the gamble paid off. With a revised, stronger breed standard due to go into effect the beginning of the 2003 show season, the TICA Snowshoe community hope to further consolidate its progress.
While breeding for type is still one of the top mandates, I look forward to the day when someone will take up the challenge of introducing the Cinnamon and Fawn-pointed Snowshoes. They will be striking cats! It is still acceptable to outcross to Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs, although the latter does present some conformation issues, but with a selective breeding program that can preserve these new shadings, and correct for some of the type considerations, the results will be impressive.
Sidebar - Personality Plus
Given this spotty history, in which a handful of breeders labored away in near oblivion, taking their progeny to show after show with minimal recognition, one might wonder why they even bothered.
For the answer to that, simply consult a Snowshoe. While personalities vary from cat to cat, in general Snowshoes are natural born salesmen, with a breezy, affectionate temperament and fun-loving sense of mischief. More than just active cats, they are interactive cats, wanting to participate (some would say supervise) your daily household activities.
Their short coats make them low-maintenance cats. The ideal coat is sleek, soft to the touch, and without any undercoating. There seems to be a rumor circulating that Snowshoes are hypoallergenic. Believe me, I would be the first to cheer at a non-shedding Snowshoe, but this has not been my experience. Like all cats, a high-quality diet can do wonders to minimize shedding and dander.
If having a chatterer in the house concerns you, realize that some Snowshoes consider themselves stand-up comics, and can let loose with a riff that would put Jay Leno to shame. Taking their cue from their Siamese cousins, they can enthrall you with their ongoing commentary, but in general their voices are soft and melodic. Others are not talkers at all. Since this trait seems to be an inherited trait, if you are concerned about their rhetorical abilities, talk to a breeder. They can often give you an excellent idea where their Snowshoes tend to fall on the spectrum.
Most of all, Snowshoes make loyal and dedicated companions. With their amusing antics and lap fungus ways, they are expert at turning their "pets" into mush.
Julia Munde lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is closely supervised by her three Snowshoes. She is active in the Snowshoe Rescue Network and enjoys being part of the TICA Snowshoe community