As a breed, the American Wirehair has a lot of variation, but its trademark characteristic is its unusually wiry coat hairs. The coat can be almost any color and pattern, but texturally, its thick, coarse, short hairs prompt comparison to steel wool. American Wirehairs have crimped coats and often crimped whiskers, as well. These cats have small to medium, muscular bodies, and medium tail and leg length. When fully grown, they weigh in at 6 to 11 pounds. They have round faces and well-defined cheekbones beneath large, round, widely spaced eyes.
These cats are energetic without being hyper and loving without being needy.
American Wirehairs are friendly and people-oriented, preferring to be around humans and somewhat involved in their goings-on. These cats are energetic without being hyper and loving without being needy. At times, they seem to have a genuine sense of humor, and they love to clown around with older kids and other animals.
This breed's unique coat resulted from a spontaneous mutation, and one that hasn't been seen anywhere else in the world outside the US (although two cats with a somewhat similar type of coat were reportedly seen in London shortly after World War II). Though the coat may seem high maintenance as compared to more standard hair, the opposite is true. Many people mistakenly believe that the American Wirehair is a hypoallergenic breed, but these cats shed dander just like all others.
American Wirehairs are fairly quiet, but still active and playful. They aren't clingy, but do crave one-on-one human attention more than many other more aloof or independent breeds. These cats display a particular interest in their surroundings and the activities of those around them, and they like to insinuate themselves into the middle of the action. They also have a reputation for being attuned to human emotions and offering comfort when their humans need it.
These cats are good with children, though better suited to older ones; young children should be supervised to ensure they don't manhandle the animal. American Wirehairs are social, affectionate, and adaptable, easily getting along in all types of family situations and with other cats and feline-friendly dogs. Tolerance for sitting still in a lap varies a bit among individuals, but these cats won't hesitate to request attention when they desire it.
Because American Wirehairs are playful and energetic, bordering on clownish at times, they'll turn anything they get their paws on into a toy. This, combined with their inquisitiveness about their environment, make it important to secure breakable, valuable, and potentially unsafe items around the home.
American Wirehairs are a generally healthy breed with lifespans tending toward the longer end of the feline spectrum. Acquire kittens from a reputable breeder who provides a written health guarantee. However, do not do business with a breeder who assures you his or her American Wirehairs have no genetic problems or particular health concerns; all cats do.
Because American Wirehairs share genes with American Shorthairs, they share a genetic predisposition to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This thickening of the heart muscle is the most common cause of heart disease in cats. It's diagnosed with an echocardiogram and requires a strict treatment regimen administered under close veterinary supervision. No breeder can guarantee an HCM-free line of American Wirehairs, but both parents of kittens under consideration should have been tested and cleared of HCM.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to the continued health and happiness of American Wirehairs. They may overeat when afforded the opportunity. Feed them a nutritionally balanced diet with the proper number of daily calories, as determined by a veterinarian, and encourage active play every day. Keeping off extra pounds promotes continuing high quality of life and helps prevent diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, certain cancers, and other illnesses.
The American Wirehair is an intelligent and patient breed, making it an easy one to train. They'll quickly learn to use a scratching post rather than furniture, and they are useful as hunters, eagerly tending to the presence of insects and rodents.
Although fond of attention from humans and prone to involving themselves in activities going on around them, these cats are good at entertaining themselves. They enjoy lots of toys and will resort to making toys of things around them when more appropriate items aren't available. American Wirehairs are avid birdwatchers, so appreciate a convenient seat near a window, especially if there's a birdhouse, birdfeeder, or birdbath set up outside.
Socializing American Wirehairs from the beginning of their lives helps develop their personalities and contributes toward their friendly, patient, adaptable nature. Kittens should be shown physical affection and given ample opportunity to play with other people and animals. Cats from reputable breeders are more likely to have been properly socialized from birth.
Although the American Wirehair's coat may seem like it comes with complicated care instructions, this isn't the case at all. The short, dense, springy coat is better off the less it is groomed. Brushing and combing easily damage the hairs and cause them to fall out, so should be reserved only for those times when shedding becomes a problem.
Regular bathing, on the other hand, is more appropriate for American Wirehairs than for most other cat breeds. It helps remove dead hairs and to reduce the natural greasiness often exhibited by this breed. Introduce bathing at a young age and make it a pleasant experience; be patient and positive and offer treats. Consult a veterinarian about a suitable feline shampoo.
American Wirehairs require weekly nail trimmings. They also need their teeth brushed regularly with a vet-approved feline toothpaste. Dental rinses or chews are also beneficial. The occasional ear cleaning is important to prevent infections; use cotton balls and a gentle veterinarian-recommended ear cleanser.
The original American Wirehair cat appeared in a litter of Verona, New York farm cats in 1966, resulting from a somewhat uncommon, but by no means rare, phenomenon in feline physiology: natural spontaneous mutation. Neither parent had a wiry or otherwise irregular coat.
A breeder named Joan O'Shea decided to pursue the mutation genetically and took in this prototype, naming him the somewhat cumbersome Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi. Two rounds of breeding established the dominance of the wiry hair gene. Because so much of the American Wirehair resembled the popular American Shorthair, the latter were used to enhance the genetic diversity in further developing the breed.
The American Wirehair was accepted for registration by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1967. The breed was accepted for championship competition by the CFA in 1978.