What Does an American Wirehair Look Like?

The American Wirehair first appeared in the 1960s due to a spontaneous mutation in a litter of domestic shorthair cats. The result was a breed with a short, dense, and springy coat that gives it a shaggy appearance. When you look at it closely, you’ll notice that the hairs are crimped, hooked or bent. Their whiskers are the same way.

These cats typically weigh 8-15 pounds, and their heads are typically round to square shaped with large ears and wide-set eyes. They have a medium-length tail that they carry straight or curled.

Their coats are usually medium-length and come in colors like white, black, brown tabby, red, blue and cream, among others. More often than not, you’ll see them with a white belly. They can have blue, gold, green or orange eyes and a pink or dark-colored nose.

What Is the Temperament of an American Wirehair Like?

American Wirehairs are a very affectionate cat breed. They are always looking for a quiet spot next to their owners and will follow them around the house. Most owners describe them as friendly with guests, and they get along well with children, other cats and dogs. They also have moderate levels of energy and will happily play with you, but won’t demand a lot of exercise.

Do American Wirehairs Meow a Lot?

These cats are known to be one of the least vocal breeds of. They prefer to be quiet, even though they’re very sociable and enjoy being around people and other animals. They prefer to communicate with body language and simply being with you – that tells you all you need to know about their love and affection.

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How to Play with an American Wirehair?

The average American Wirehair is playful, but doesn’t need strenuous exercise. How to play with them to keep them stimulated and happy? You could take advantage of their high intelligence and give them puzzle toys to play with – ones they can test their wits against to ‘win’ a tasty snack.

Or, just stick to the old-fashioned mouse on a string. Your cat will patiently stalk it and pounce when they’re ready, and you might catch them doing funny acrobatics and dances leading up to their victory!

How Long Do These Cats Live, and Are They Healthy?

Since American Wirehairs weren’t developed by lots of selective breeding, they have a healthy gene pool and aren’t known to carry any genetic defects in their bloodlines. They’re just as healthy as the next cat, and when they do develop health issues, it’s mostly because of their diets or injuries.

However, lighter-colored cats of this breed may need sunscreen when you’re taking them outside. That’s because they may have sensitive skin, and their lack of pigment means their fur won’t protect them from UV radiation. If you take good care of your American Wirehair, they will live 14-18 years. That’s above the average lifespan among different cat breeds.

How to Groom and Care for an American Wirehair?

These cats require little grooming – in fact, brushing or combing their coarse, wiry coat will do more harm than good. The only time you should do this is in the spring, when they’re shedding more, and you want to keep it under control. Never bathe your cat, unless they get into something dirty that they shouldn’t be licking off themselves.

Other than that, you’ll need to clip your cat’s nails every couple of weeks to keep them from developing a scratching habit. Check their ears weekly, and if they look dirty, wipe them out with a damp cloth or a cotton ball dipped in warm water. To prevent periodontal disease, it’s best if you get your kitten used to the toothbrush from the beginning and stick to a weekly (or even better, daily) brushing routine.

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Where Can You Get an American Wirehair Kitten or Adult?

If you decide that this is the breed for you, your best bet is to look for a reputable breeder through the Cat Fanciers’ Association. They have an online listing where you can search for cat breeders in your area. A kitten from a good source will typically cost between $800 and $1,200 and come with a health guarantee.

Another way to add a cat to your family is to adopt one. Purebred cats are rarely found in local shelters, as most breeders’ contracts require the owner to return the cat to the breeder if they can no longer care for it. Still, an adult American Wirehair will need rehoming on occasion, and breed-specific rescues will announce it online.

What’s the History of the American Wirehair Cat Breed?

As their name suggests, American Wirehairs come from America. In fact, they descend directly from the American Shorthair, with a spontaneous mutation giving them their unusual coat. It’s not uncommon for this to happen, but so far, this exact mutation hasn’t been seen anywhere outside the United States.

What’s the full story? In 1966, a litter of five kittens was born to a pair of domestic shorthairs in New York. Only one kitten survived, and it was a red tabby and white male with a strange, wiry coat texture. The surprised owners showed him to Joan O’Shea, a local cat breeder. She bought the kitten for $50, gave him the name Council Rock Adam of Hi-Fi, and started breeding him to American Shorthairs to produce similar kittens.

In 1978, the breed was ready to be fully recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. On the other hand, The International Cat Association still considers it to be a type of American Shorthair.

Is an American Wirehair the Right Cat for You?

American Wirehair cats are a great choice for people who want a cat that is not too demanding. They’re known to be friendly and easygoing, but they also have a lot of energy and love to play. You won’t even need to comb your feline friend’s coat, although the rest of the grooming routine – nail clipping, tooth brushing and ear cleaning – will still take an average of a few minutes out of your week.

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These cats can be fun for the whole family, so if you’re looking for a cat that will get along with everyone in your home, this could be the perfect choice. They’ll happily play with your kids, and may even become best buddies with a dog or another cat.

Fun Facts about American Wirehairs

If you’d like to know even more about these cats that look like they’ve been struck by static, we found a few facts you might find interesting.

  • Their personality is identical to that of an American Shorthair – they’re described as content and humorous lap cats that are gentle and quiet, but also playful.
  • They have quiet voices, so when they do vocalize, you might wonder if your cat has lost their voice or never learned to meow!
  • Even though the breed is well-known, it’s the rarest of the 41 breeds recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association.
  • Their wiry hair is a dominant trait, which means that if you cross them with a normal-coated cat, usually at least half of the kittens will inherit it.

Ready to Bring a Springy-Coated Kitten Home?

If you’ve read this far and decided that the American Wirehair is the cat for you, congratulations! You’ll love their good-natured and playful personality, and your guests are sure to notice and spread the word about your unique pet.

Have you ever owned one of these cats before? Share your stories in the comments!


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