American Wirehair: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

An American Wirehair Cat

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The American Wirehair is a new breed and one that is still relatively rare. Native to upstate New York, and closely related to the American Shorthair, this cat is special because of its unique wiry coat.

They can make great family pets and are known for having laid-back, gentle and affectionate personalities.

Breed Overview

Weight: 3 to 8 pounds

Length: 12 to 15 inches

Coat: Medium-short, straight

Coat Color: Wide variety of colors and patterns

Eye Color: Usually golden, but also blue or amber

Life Expectancy: 14 to 20 years

Characteristics of the American Wirehair

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  High
Kid-Friendly  High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  Medium
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Vocalize Low
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the American Wirehair

The introduction of this breed can be traced back specifically to 1966, on a farm in upstate New York. The farm cat, a domestic shorthair, had a litter of kittens and, unfortunately, only two of them survived. The special little ginger-and-white male immediately caught the farmers eye as he had a very distinctive wiry coat.

He contacted a local and well-respected breeder to come and take a look, and she too was surprised by the kitten's appearance. She agreed to buy them both straight away to allow her to try to replicate this wiry coat in her breeding program.

This one-of-a-kind coat type is believed to have occurred as a result of a rare spontaneous mutation. It is a dominant mutation, so it means that at least half the kittens born from a parent with this mutation will also be born with Wirehair.

The breed was first formally recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association way back in 1967 and was then accepted for Championship competition in 1978. Although they are still relatively rare, they can now be found right across the United States, and they are much beloved by breed enthusiasts.

American Wirehair Care

Known for being a little reserved initially, once they get to know you the American Wirehair is extremely affectionate and friendly.

Because of this tendency towards reticency, making sure they have been well socialized as kittens is important.

Once they settle into a new home, they tend to be resilient, have very affable natures and can be doughy, warm-hearted clowns.

The American Wirehair is not a breed that will be content with just lying around on your lap all day. While they do enjoy receiving affection, they are also an agile and energetic breed. They will need plenty of exercise and enrichment to keep them from becoming bored.

If you are out most of the day, then the American Wirehair is not the best breed to choose. They enjoy being surrounded by company. They often get on well with respectful children and even family dogs too, providing they are introduced carefully.

While this breed is not known for being vocal, they are often prolific purrers, and you will know when they are feeling content.

Because of their roots as farm cats, they can have a strong hunting instinct. If they go outside, you may want to use a bell on their collar, and be aware that they may proudly return home with a little present for you.

Care should be taken if you are bringing them into a house that is home to other small furries or birds. They can live together, but you should be willing to accept that they may always need to be kept separate.

The springy, rough nature of the coat can vary, and it depends on the texture of the parent's coats. Some American Wirehairs have a slightly smoother coat, they may have wiry whiskers but the coat will not be as coarse. The cats that are considered the best in their breed will have a very hard wiry coat all over. They come in a wide variety of color and pattern options.

The coat is low maintenance. They do not shed a great deal and a brush out once a week to remove any dead hair should be enough to keep it in good, shiny condition.

While they are similar in appearance to their American Shorthair relatives, their coat and more prominent, high cheekbones give them a distinctive appearance all of their own.

Common Health Problems

The American Wirehair is widely regarded as one of the healthiest breeds out there. They have been subject to a very rigorous and reputable breeding program, and they are generally considered a hardy breed.

They often live very long and healthy lives and, at present, there are no inheritable conditions they are known to suffer from.

Because of the coarse nature of their coat, care should always be taken when bathing or grooming. The hairs can be more prone to breaking more easily than on other breeds.

They can sometimes also suffer from a greater build-up of wax if they have the coarse hairs inside their ear. You should regularly inspect them and use a very gentle cleanser if you do spot any issues.

Diet and Nutrition

Like any cat, your American Wirehair should be fed a high-quality diet. Cats are obligate carnivores and, as such, they need a high protein diet with a careful balance of vitamins and minerals.

PROS

  • Affectionate and playful

  • Quiet

  • Known for being a very healthy breed

CONS

  • They are rare and can be hard to come by

  • They can be expert hunters

  • Not suited to being left alone for too long

Where to Adopt or Buy an American Wirehair

Always do your research to ensure that you find a reputable breeder. It is encouraging to know that, in general, American Wirehair breeders are known for being very responsible.

Because they are still relatively rare, you may have to travel further afield or go on a waiting list if you would like to offer a home to this breed.

Don't rule out adopting a cat; it can be incredibly rewarding. Reach out to your local shelter.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you want to find out more about breeds similar to the American Wirehair, why not consider:

There are hundreds of breeds of cats out there, and some beautiful cross-breed moggies too. With a little research, you will be sure to find the perfect match.