American Wirehair Cat Breeds Facts and Traits
The American Wirehair cat breed is known for its steel wool-like coat. This cat breed is uniquely American, a native in the United States. The ancestors of this breed are known to be mousers. The unique wiry quality of its coat is a product of natural mutation in upstate New York.
The American Wirehair is one of the most adaptable cat breeds. It is an intelligent cat and loves to play with puzzles and interactive toys. It is also an affectionate cat perfect for the family. The American Wirehair is also known to be an athletic and playful cat breed.
American Wirehair Origin and History
The American Wirehair cat breed originated in the United States. It is a natural genetic mutation of the breed American Shorthair. This mutation has not been found in any country so far. In 1996, one male kitten with a steel wool-like fur was among the litter of kittens found in a barn in Vernon, located in upstate New York.
The wiry-haired kitten, named Council Rock Farms Adams of Hi-Fi (Adam), was bred to his sister by a cat lady and a local Rex cat breeder named Joan O’Shea. Their goal was to produce kittens with the same wooly coat. The pair successfully bred two kittens with wiry fur. Other breeders also reproduced the cats with the closest and then widely available breed, the American Shorthair.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognized and registered the American Wirehair as a new breed in 1967. Cat championship competitions started accepting this new cat breed in 1978.
There are no other names for the American Wirehair. Some refer to them as Wirehair or Wires.
American Wirehair Personality
American Wirehair cats are people-oriented, making them excellent companions for singles, family, children, and elders. Their relaxed, laid-back attitude makes them a terrific lap-cat. They are calm and tolerant of children and can also be playful even as they grow old. American Wirehairs are athletic. Hyper, active, playful, these cats adore interactive toys and games with people, even in their senior years.
They can also easily amuse themselves or get along with other cats. Although this breed has a moderate activity level, it doesn’t demand too much attention from its owners. Female Wirehairs are more active than male Wirehairs, who tend to be easygoing. American Wirehairs still have their hunting instinct in them, so it is common to see them stalking birds or hunt insects inside the house.
American Wirehairs are highly intelligent and inquisitive. Because of their interest in their surroundings, they spend much time exploring their environment, occasionally learning new tricks to adapt to it. This trait makes them trainable cats. They are quiet cats. They produce a soft meow but not to the extent that will annoy you. American Wirehairs communicate through expression. They also purr a ton.
American Wirehair Characteristics (Physical)
The American Wirehairs are almost identical to American Shorthair except for their wiry coat, which separates them from the latter cat breed.
American Wirehair Cat Size
American Wirehair cats are medium-sized cats with no excessive features. Their body is slender, proportionate, and well-muscled. Their frame appears to be longer than their overall size. American Wirehairs from line breeding tend to be smaller than average.
Weight range: (Male and Female)
Male American Wirehair cats are larger than females. A male cat usually weighs 12 to 15 pounds. This size is considered to be large. A female cat tips the scales at 8 to 12 pounds, which is considered medium-sized. Female cats gain weight faster than male cats.
American Wirehair cats have a round and broad head with high cheekbones. They have a medium-short, well-developed muzzle, muscular neck, prominent chin and full strong jaws, giving them a square-like form. Breeding American Wirehair with American Shorthair causes many changes to the head shape of the Wires.
American Wirehair cats have wide-set, medium to large round eyes that are turned slightly upward. The upper lid is half almond in shape, while the lower lid is a fully rounded curve. The eyes are proportionate to the size of the head. The common eye colors of American Wirehairs are deep blue, green, golden, and odd-eyed or one green and one blue.
American Wirehair cats have medium-sized ears. The ears are widely set (twice the distance between the eyes) and have slightly round tips.
Legs & Paws
The American Wirehair has medium-length legs and round, tight, compact paws.
What defines the American Wirehair from its closest breed, American Shorthair, is their coat. The American Wirehairs have a soft, crimped, steel-wool like fur. It grows from short to medium length. The wiriness of the coat may vary from spiked to curly with each hair being crimped, hooked, or bent. Kittens have coats with ringlets that tend to wave or strengthen as they age.
For cat breeders, the ideal coat of an American Wirehair is dense, coarse and crimped. The degree of coarseness depends on the coat’s texture. Cats with hard coats are more likely to produce kittens with this ideal quality of coat. Their coat comes in different shades and patterns.
Their typical colors are white, platinum, blue, red, cream, chestnut, golden, silver, tortoiseshell, fawn, and blue-cream. Wirehairs can feature solid color, bicolor, tortoiseshell, calico, tabby, smoke, and shaded patterns. Their coats are soft to touch. When stroked, it springs back to its place.
American Wirehair Lifespan
When given the right care, American Wirehairs live about 12 to 16 years.
Generally, pedigreed cats are more prone to genetic health problems. American Wirehairs are healthy cats, but since they are crossbred with the American Shorthair, they are likely to inherit and develop health issues common to Shorthairs. The common illnesses American Wirehairs may encounter are hip dysplasia and feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
This heart disease occurs when the heart muscle becomes enlarged. It is a hereditary condition. A veterinary cardiologist can conduct an echocardiogram to confirm if an American Wirehair is suffering from this disease.
Another hereditary health disorder is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a defect on the cat’s hip socket that can lead to severe lameness. American Wirehairs suffering from hip dysplasia may move much slower than other cats and avoid jumping. Surgery, medication and weight loss can relive the cat’s pain.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Another health problem identified in the American Wirehair breed is Progressive Retinal Atrophy. PRA is the degeneration and atrophy of the cat’s retinas. This disease impairs the cat’s vision and eventually leads to total blindness. An American Wirehair may start to develop this vision disorder when it reaches 1 to 2 years of age. Becoming disoriented and bumping into objects are early signs of PRA.
While cat breeders focus on preventing diseases that affect a particular breed of feline, cat owners can pay more attention to health problems that are not exclusive to the breed of their cat. The sad part is that pet owners are too late in realizing that many of these common illnesses are preventable.
- Obesity – Many cat breeds may suffer from obesity, including the American Wirehair. Obesity is one of the major diseases that leads to serious issues in cats. Excess weight among felines can worsen and cause conditions like joint issues, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. Obesity may also lead to hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver. This health problem can be avoided by feeding your cat a balanced diet.
- Dental Diseases – Another common health problem for American Wirehairs, and all pets for that matter, is dental decay. Like most of the cat breeds, American Wirehairs are not good at taking care of their teeth, unless given extra help from their owners. Tartar build-up may lead to gum and tooth infections. Chronic dental infection may cause cats to lose their teeth or even damage their internal organs.
- Infections – There is a high chance that American Wirehair cats may contract bacterial and viral infections like panleukopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, and rabies. These infections can be prevented through vaccination. You can also protect your American Wirehair from feline leukemia virus (FeLV) by giving it a vaccine against the dangerous disease.
- Parasites – American Wirehairs are susceptible to parasites if they are not cared for properly. Parasites invade your cat’s body from the outside. American Wirehairs can catch fleas, ticks, and ear mites that irritate their skin. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can also attack the cat’s internal organs. Cats catch these parasites from drinking dirty water, getting bitten by insects carrying the parasite, or playing on contaminated soil.
Quite horrifying is that some of these parasites can be transmitted to humans and other animals. This can be prevented by ensuring your cat’s hygiene and the cleanliness of their environment. You can also keep track of your cats’ health by taking them for a fecal exam regularly. Aside from having an unwanted litter, spaying and neutering your cats also have health benefits.
Spaying (surgically removing the ovaries and uterus of a female cat) and neutering (surgically removing the testicles of a male cat) reduce the risk of developing certain types of illness. Having your pets undergo spay and neuter surgeries also gives an extra chance for vets to address other diseases while your cat is asleep.
This reduces the amount of stress your cat may suffer from undergoing different surgeries. To conclude, with a careful breeding program and thorough care, American Wirehairs are a relatively healthy breed.
How to Care for an American Wirehair Cat
Since the prized quality of an American Wirehair is its unique springy and crimped coat, it is not surprising that most cat owners pay more attention to the care of its famous fur. To maintain the exceptional curly coat of an American Wirehair, it needs brushing once a week. Frequent brushing may damage the unique coat.
The ideal time for combing is when the cat is shedding, which usually occurs in spring. Use an appropriate brush with soft bristles to gently stroke the cat. Combing removes dead hair and dust particles and stimulates blood circulation. American Wirehair cats need occasional bathing (about once a month).
Baths remove dead hair and oil build-up, which are responsible for the greasy feel of the coat. Introducing American Wirehair kittens to baths early in life increases the chance of them accepting it as they age. Use a mild, vet-approved shampoo when bathing. Nail trimming is also crucial, as long nails pose harm to the cat.
Untrimmed nails remain dirty and prone to germs and bacteria that can cause infections. American Wirehairs that are kept indoors should have their nails trimmed once a week. Ears are one of the most sensitive parts of American Wirehairs’ body. When your American Wirehair has coarse ear hair, it is more prone to wax build-up. Thus, cleaning the cat’s ears once a week will be helpful.
A cloth or cotton ball moistened with warm water can help. Using cotton swabs may damage the interior of the ear. Look for debris and signs of infection when cleaning your cat’s ears. It is also vital to pay attention to your cat’s eyes. Using a soft, damp cloth, wipe the edges and corners of the eyes to remove discharge. Use a different cloth for each eye to prevent the infection from spreading.
American Wirehair cats also need dental care to prevent oral problems. Brushing your cat’s teeth once a week will reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Use vet-recommended toothpaste for your American Wirehair.
Although American Wirehairs are good lap cats with a laid-back attitude, they are also playful and active. This characteristic makes the breed much easier to get the cat to exercise. Regular physical activity keeps their bones and muscles intact and prevents them from becoming overweight.
American Wirehairs have the same exercise regimen as other cat breeds. This breed is originally a barn cat, thus they retain their hunting instinct. Interactive toys are a great way to stimulate this instinct while keeping their bodies in action. Introducing a routine, daily play sessions will not just keep the cat active but also reduce the risk of developing behavioral issues.
American Wirehair cats are meticulously clean cats. If possible, provide one litter box for each cat. Vets can recommend the most appropriate litter box for your cat. The litter box should be kept clean. Adding a little bit of baking soda to the litter reduces the odor. Be sure to empty the entire litter tray weekly, and wash and disinfect it before replacing the litter.
Keeping American Wirehair indoors minimizes the risk of catching parasites, contracting viruses from feral cats, and being attacked by other animals. An indoor lifestyle also reduces the chance of them being involved in a car accident or getting snatched by a cat thief. Generally, this applies to all cat breeds, not just to American Wirehairs. Make sure to keep track of your cat when you let them outdoors.
American Wirehairs are not very particular about food, but make sure to provide the most suitable and nutritious feed. American Wirehairs can eat commercially available feeds as well as homemade food. A protein-rich diet is ideal for your cat along with other nutrients such as fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The food should be a combination of wet and dry.
The proportion of food changes as the cat ages. American Wirehair kittens require more protein in their food, which is essential for their growth. Achieving the right amount of nutritional requirement for your cat’s food is important when making homemade meals. Protein content should be at least 20% of the cat’s feed. Fiber should be around 2%. Too much fiber may cause indigestion.
Chicken, fish, beef and turkey are good sources of protein and that can easily be broken down by cats. Broccoli and apples are the best sources of vitamins and minerals for cats. A small amount of pumpkin can be given to provide fiber. When feeding meat, it is ideal to boil it first. Do not give it raw as it can be contaminated with bacteria or parasites.
Avoid overfeeding your cat as it may lead to obesity. Treats can be given occasionally. Peeled bananas, apples and cantaloupes are the most common healthy treat for cats. As much as possible, avoid giving human food as a treat. Food with seasoning and MSG should be avoided. Lastly, keep the cat hydrated. Cats need to drink an adequate amount of clean and fresh water.
Children, Family, & Other Pets
The personality of the American Wirehair cats makes them a great pet for families. They are calm, laidback, and easy-going cats, which makes them child-friendly. The American Wirehair appreciates older children who know how to handle and treat cats properly. The elderly can enjoy the company of American Wirehair as lap cats. However, they prefer sitting next to people.
American Wirehair cats are friendly to strangers, sometimes even greeting them enthusiastically. They may appear reserved at first, but American Wirehair cats are sociable, affectionate and friendly. American Wirehairs are friendly and adoptable cats. They adapt quickly with other animals in the house. They get along with hamsters, birds, fish, dogs and other cats.
However, smaller animals sometimes awaken or trigger the hunting instincts of American Wirehairs. It will not be a problem if the cat is introduced to the other animals at an early age. Growing up together forms friendship and bond between your pets, thus establishing a harmonious relationship. For bigger animals such as dogs, the American Wirehair appreciates cat-friendly canine companion.
This includes golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, bulldogs, and beagles. While your dog and your cat may form a special bond, it is still important to supervise the two animals, even ensuring the escape route of your American Wirehair, just in case. The good thing about the American Wirehair is that it is not a territorial breed, therefore welcoming another feline in the house is a piece of cake.
Moreover, you have fewer worries with American Wirehair when it comes to companionship. However, individual cats still have their own personalities. You can train them to become sociable to people and welcoming to other animals at a young age, so they become more accepting as they grow old.
More About This Breed
One misconception people have about American Wirehair cats is they are hypoallergenic because of their dense and textured coat. This belief has been debunked since allergies are caused by dead skin cells shed by cats, not because of their coat. All cats, and even humans, shed dead skin cells.
The American Wirehair has been imported and successfully bred in countries like Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia and Britain. In 2017, the Cat Fancier Association named the American Wirehair is the rarest breed of cat in the world. American Wirehair’s famous springy fur can be seen not only on its coat but also on their whiskers.
The only cat breed the American Wirehair is allowed to be crossed with is American Shorthair.