The American Wirehair is a breed of domestic cat that has its roots in upstate New York. Despite being a well-known breed across the country, by 2003 it was ranked the most rare of the 41 recognised breeds, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association with just 22 cats registered.
History of the breed
The American Wirehair is a mutation of the American Shorthair that first randomly occurred in a litter of five born to a pair of normal barn cats in 1966 in Vemon, New York. A single red and white male cat in the litter had wiry fur so the owner called in a local Rex breeder, Joan O’Shea to have a look at the kitten. She bought it for $50 along with a normal female from the same litter to begin a breeding program. The male was called Adam and the female Tip-Top.
The breeding of these two cats produced wirehair kittens who were sold to other breeders. As the population continued to grow, cats were sent to Canada and Germany where they remain popular. The breed was recognized by the CFA in 1967 and by 1978 was accepted for championship competitions. American Wirehairs have not made their way to either the UK or Australia.
The American Wirehair is very much the same as the shorthair apart from the springy and wiry nature of its coat, which extends to the fur in its ears and its whiskers. The coat is similar to that of some breeds of dog such as terriers and means they need little grooming. Lighter coloured cats however may need sunblock as their coat doesn’t provide as much protection as a normal cat’s would. The best wirehairs have a coat that isn’t too long or too soft as this can result in ringlets or waves as opposed to the desired crimped look.
Physically, wirehairs are of a moderate and sturdy build with rounded heads, high cheekbones and a pronounced muzzle. As a rule, females are smaller than males and their coats come in the full range of colours though Himalayan, Chocolate and Lilac aren’t accepted under competition criteria. They also generally have amber eyes apart from white cats that have blue eyes. Wirehair is a dominant mutation, which means that when bred with another type of cat, wirehair kittens will be produced.
The temperament of the Wirehair is also very similar to the shorthair. They like to play and are described as cute and humorous with the clown-like behaviours associated with the American Shorthair. They are gentle and quiet when not playing and tend towards being indoor cats. They are also very athletic and enjoy active play.
Many people who have a wirehair have said they crave human attention and affection but not in a clingy manner. They will often follow their owners from room to room to see what is going on and are quite adept at understanding their human’s emotions. They are very good at knowing when someone needs a cuddle and enjoy sitting on the lap and being petted.