Spontaneous genetic mutations piqued the interest of breeders and led to the creation of American Wirehairs. They are quite a new breed and are actually American Shorthairs with dominant mutated genes, which causes their fur to become hard and curly, (just like Fox-Terrier fur). They are still very rare in Europe, but in America they’re known not only for their unique appearance but also their ‘easy-going’ and adaptable temperament.
Key facts about the American Wirehair
Origins and history
The first listed American Wirehair was born in the United States, New York, in 1966. Both parents were American Shorthairs and their red kitten, with almost spiky curly fur, was quite different to the rest of the litter. A farmer, Joan O'Shea, adopted this little redhead, named Adam, and researched his strange mutation. After concluding that the gene was dominant and totally different from Rex genetics, she began the painstaking work of setting up a breeding program. Since American Wirehairs are American Shorthairs with different hair, they were widely used to avoid too much incest. These two breeds can only be distinguished by the texture of their coat.
Physical characteristics of the American Wirehair
Female : Between 12 and 14 in
Male : Between 12 and 14 in
American Wirehairs can continue to grow until the age of 3 or 4.
Female : Between 7 and 11 lb
Male : Between 9 and 15 lb
Black, blue, cream, red, white, silver, gold
Only shades related to colourpoint patterns are not permitted.
Type of coat
All colours, as long as it goes with their coat colour.
American Wirehairs look a lot like their short-haired cousins (The American Shorthair). They have a semi-cobby body type and therefore are a little more rectangular than they are long, have a muscular and broad chest, medium-sized bone structure and are well proportioned from the tip of their nose to the end of the tail.
They have the same square muzzle as their cousins, the same well-spaced ears and the same soft and shiny appearance that is accentuated by the shape of their rounded, skewed and well spaced eyes.
Their most identifying characteristic (the one that inspired their name) is obviously their short and dense coat! They have three types of hair: a topcoat, secondary coat and undercoat. All these layers of hair are curly, frizzy, hard or curved, and form a hook at the end. To the touch, some say that their texture is rough and spiky in places, however this is mostly based on the peculiarity of the fur’s texture, and, in reality, they are relatively soft to the touch.
Good to know
Due to their ancestral hunting roots, they are programmed to hunt, so cohabitation with small animals such as birds, mice, etc. can be rather problematic for the small animals... as they are very tempting treats for the cat!
They are extremely loving and well balanced cats.
To keep them fit, it’s a good idea to give them toys that they can chase and hunt themselves. These rascals also love to play hide and seek! Both inside and outside.
They’re a very patient breed and their ‘hunter’ characteristics make them calm cats. However they are always interested in the world around them.
Just like their ancestors, American Wirehairs are resourceful, alert, curious and intelligent.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Although this characteristic varies greatly from one individual to another, American Wirehairs are considered very sociable and curious, instead of suspicious.
American Wirehairs love having their owners take care of them. But they can also look after themselves.
Behaviour of the American Wirehair
They’re not very chatty cats, but some are louder than others.
Need for exercise / Sporty
American Wirehairs need to hunt, but they also need other activities to prevent obesity.
Tendency to run away
Primarily outdoor cats, their curiosity often makes them want to explore their surroundings! However some do prefer the peace and quiet of their apartments.
Greedy / Gluttony
It’s definitely worth considering feeding these cats using interactive bowls, as they can be quite greedy.
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American Wirehair and cats
Their sociable nature means they can live with other cats without any problems at all, or at least almost no problems!
American Wirehair and dogs
They get on well with dogs. Good introductions are necessary though.
American Wirehair and children
American Wirehairs are known for their love for children. However it is still a good idea to keep an eye on them!
American Wirehair and the elderly
As long as the cat is chosen to match their owner’s nature, they can be very good with elderly people.
American Wirehairs cost between £760 and £910. However, their price go even higher as they’re extremely rare in Europe. It costs approximately £35 per month to look after an American Wirehair in order to keep them in good health.
As they have special coats, they also have special grooming needs. American Wirehairs require weekly brushing and you must be careful not to damage their hair while doing so. A monthly bath, or grooming session with an experienced groomer are also recommended to remove the dead hairs that could irritate them, due to their hooked ends. Baths also remove the excess oily secretion from their skin which sometimes accumulates in their hair. As they also tend to produce a lot of earwax, a good cleaning with a dry cloth is recommended once a week, and with an ear solution once a month.
American Wirehairs don’t lose much hair except sometimes between seasons.
Nutrition of the American Wirehair
They need a high quality balanced diet to stay healthy and to avoid gaining too much weight. Also decent daily exercise is required to match their diet.
Health of the American Wirehair
They live 14 to 18 years.
Strong / robust
They adapt quite easily to both hot and cold climates, although perhaps a little less well than their short-haired American cousins.
Tendency to put on weight
They do have a slight tendency of being overweight, especially after being sterilised. It is therefore necessary to pay close attention to their diet and exercise.
They can contract all the same illnesses as other cats. It is therefore a good idea to vaccinate and deworm your cats, as well as monitoring for external parasites, especially if their adventurous nature means they spend hours outside.
They are also more susceptible than most cats to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a disease that causes the thickening of the heart muscle.
American Wirehairs can crossbreed with other American Wirehairs or American Shorthairs.
Good names for an American Wirehair: Cherry, Itch, Mouse, Remix