American Wirehair Cat: CFA registered. Easy-going and popular family cat. Tolerant of dogs, cats, & other animals. Children friendly pet. Quiet cats. American Wirehair kittens for sale. Medium-sized cat & muscular cat.
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The Stalwart American Wirehair
Like its counterpart, the American Shorthair , the American Wirehair is one of the most adaptable cat breeds for any type of household. It can be found happily curled up on the lap of a senior citizen, or joining in energetically to play with a group of young children. A natural breed, the American Wirehair kitten grows to a medium-sized cat, muscular, with a firm, well-balanced body. The American Wirehair is a spontaneous mutation of the American Shorthair.
The random mutation first occurred among a litter of five kittens born to a pair of normal barn cats in 1966 in Vernon, New York. A single red-and-white male was born with a sparse, wiry coat--every hair, including his whiskers, was crimped and springy. The owner of the cats called a local breeder of Rex cats, Joan O'Shea, to take a look at the kitten. She bought the kitten for fifty dollars, along with one of his normal-coated female littermates, to with hopes of starting a breeding program. The wirehaired male was named Adam, and the female Tip-Top. Breeding between the two produced more wirehaired kittens, many of which were sold off to other interested breeders. A second breeding to an unrelated female also produced wire-haired kittens, thereby establishing wirehaired-ness as a dominant gene.
O’Shea sent hair samples for analysis to two noted British cat geneticists. They replied that the samples of Adam’s hair showed that the coat was unique and not related to the Cornish or Devon Rexes . All three hair types (down, awn, and guard) were twisted and the awn hairs were also hooked at the tip. The cat was closest in every other way to the American Shorthair, and this was the breed used to develop the American Wirehair. Today the only difference between the two breeds is the coat.
As the population grew, cats were exported to Canada, and to Germany where they became especially popular. The breed did well, and in 1967 it was recognized by the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association), and in 1978, accepted for championship competition. Today, it is accepted by all major cat organizations.
While the breed seems to be entirely “made in America,” research indicates that the mutation may have occurred elsewhere before. Cats with coats similar to the Wirehair’s apparently were observed in derelict bomb sites in London after World War II. Two of these cats were reportedly exhibited in the pet category at the National Cat Club show in Britain two years before the Wirehair appeared on the American scene. Whether the American Wirehair somehow comes from the same gene pool, or if these were two similar spontaneous mutations that took place in two different areas of the world, is something we will probably never know.
Roughly one-half of the kittens in a Wirehair litter will demonstrate the wire-haired trait, and even these will exhibit it to varying degrees. Show breeders prefer that the whiskers and coat be noticeably wiry at birth, although it can take months for the full potential of this distinctive coat to develop. American Wirehair kittens do not fully mature until they are around three or four years old. The features of the breed are then at their best.
American Wirehairs are versatile, good-natured, easy-going cats, popular with families, as they are known to be very tolerant of dogs, other cats, and children—but they also make good companions for single people. They are calm but can also make use of their crazy senses of humor and be playful right up through old age. Female cats tend to be busier and more active than the males; males are more laid-back and easygoing. In general, they are intelligent cats that are quite interested in everything around them. Many American Wirehair cats retain their hunting instincts with any insect that should venture into the house. They also love to watch birds and other outdoor activity from a windowsill. They enjoy the company of their people but retain their independence. Many are lap cats, while some prefer just to be nearby, but in your presence. They have quiet voices which in turn makes them quiet cats. American Wirehairs generally prefer to stay indoors.
The American Wirehair is a moderate, medium-sized cat with no exaggerated features. It is not a large, heavy-boned cat like the British Shorthair . It is a very balanced, medium-boned cat, with a firm muscular feel to the body, well proportioned in all parts. The head is slightly longer than it is wide, and the face bears a receptive, sweet expression. Eyes are wide-set, medium to large in size, proportional to the size of head, and rounded, meaning that the upper lid is shaped like half an almond and the lower lid is a fully rounded curve. The muzzle is medium-short with a full strong chin, giving the American Wirehair a squarish appearance, rather like a matchbox.
The wiry coat that may feel like steel wool defines the American Wirehair as distinct from all other cat breeds. The coat is similar to the wire coats of some dog breeds, such as terriers. The wiriness is produced in several degrees, varying from spiked to curly with the individual hairs being crimped, hooked or bent. The ideal coat, including the whiskers, is dense, coarse and crimped over the whole body, prone to forming ringlets rather than waves. Some coats are completely wired but very hard and sparse, making the fur break easily. The coat is relatively soft to the touch but springs back into place when stroked. The American Wirehair even has hair within the ears, which are called “furnishings.”
American Wirehairs display the full spectrum of possible cat coat colors, although Himalayan, Chocolate and Lilac are not accepted for competition. Wirehairs have golden eyes, aside from some white ones, which have blue or amber eyes. There are a number of different looks found in the Americans that are acceptable by show standards. Females are supposed to be smaller than males, with the overall balance of the cat being of the greatest importance in the ring.
Some American Wirehairs have sensitive skin that can be susceptible to outside influences, resulting in an allergic reaction, and/or sunburn. To reduce any potential problems, the skin and coat should be kept clean with regular bathing to remove loose dead hooked hairs that could cause some irritation. If the cat spends any amount of supervised time outdoors, sunscreen should be applied. The coat can be a little greasy from the oil secreted by the skin and regular bathing helps to remove this grease too. Gently clean earwax out with a cotton swab when bathing the cat.
American Wirehairs are people cats that crave human attention and affection. They are active without being hyperactive, and affectionate without being clingy. They show a keen interest in their surroundings, want to be involved in every aspect of your day, and will follow you from room to room to keep an eye on proceedings. Fanciers say that they seem particularly in tune with their families' feelings and try to offer comfort and companionship when their chosen family member is feeling blue. That's when they turn on the purrs and sit beside them to offer their support.
Currently, the number of American Wirehairs is quite limited. In 1995, only seventy-four Wirehairs were registered with the CFA, but this is the most recent bit of information I was able to find, and that number may have changed by now. Waiting lists for American Wirehair kittens can be long, and prices high. Be sure to seek out a reputable breeder if you are looking for a American Wirehair kitten. A healthy American Wirehair cat will bring many years of pleasure into your life, and you, as a devoted owner, can make that feline feel like the king or queen of the roost. This is certain to be a win-win situation!
With Thanks to:
Barron’s Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds, J. Anne Helgren