The American Wirehair is a breed of domestic cat that originated in upstate New York. The first wirehair cat appeared as a random coat mutation among a litter of six born to two barn cats. This single red and white male had odd wiry fur.
The owner of the cats called a local breeder of Rex cats, Mrs. William O’Shea, to take a look at the kitten. She bought the kitten for $50, along with one of his normal coated female littermates, to start a breeding program. The wirehaired male was named Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi, and the female Tip-Toe of Hi-Fi.
Breedings between the two produced wire-haired kittens, many of which were sold off to other interested breeders. As the population grew, cats were exported to Canada and Germany the breed did well, and in 1978 they were accepted for Championship competition.
As of 2003, though the breed is well known, they are ranked as the most rare of the 41 CFA breeds, with only 22 registered, down from 39 in 2002.
The unique wirehair coat is genetically dominant over a normal coat, unlike the gene that creates rex fur. The fur is springy, dense and coarse, and even their whiskers are often curled. Many find it pleasant to the touch. It is unusual in that this coat has not appeared among other cats (most mutations occur in various places), and all wirehairs can trace their ancestry back to Adam. Apart from the wiry coat, they are strong, muscular cats, built similarly to American Shorthairs.
They come in a variety of colors.
Their personality is described as intelligent, and affectionate. They are said to be adaptable cats resistant to disease, and have been described as both cool and reserved, and wild, playful and inquisitive cats.
The American Wirehair breed is uniquely American. It began as a spontaneous mutation in a litter of upstate New York farm cats in 1966. A spontaneous mutation is an uncommon, although not rare, happening. As it has occurred among cats in the past, two ordinary cats came together and as a result of their mating, a kitten unlike its parents or littermates was born.
The progeny of the original mutation, Council Rock Farm Adams of Hi-Fi, are now in all areas of the United States. What is interesting and unusual about this particular mutation is that it has not been reported in any other country thus far.
The coat is the characteristic that separates the American Wirehair from all other breeds. Just as there is a wide variety of texture in Persians or Exotics, there is also considerable variation among the Wirehairs. As this is a dominant mutation, approximately half of the kittens will be wirehaired at birth. The most readily apparent wiring is that of the whiskers and ideally, the entire coat will be wired at birth. If the coat appears to be ringlets, it may be too long and may wave or straighten with maturity.
Some of the lightly wired coats may continue to crimp during the early life of the Wirehair. The degree of coarseness depends upon the coat texture of the sire and dam. To produce the best wiring, both parents must have a hard coat.
It was felt, at first, that since this mutation had occurred in the domestic American cat, the standard for it should conform to that of the American Shorthair. However, there were unique Wirehair qualities besides the coat that kept cropping up in each litter, and were worth keeping.
In addition, breeders felt that this special cat should remain so, to some extent in conformation, as well as coat. Wirehairs were first accepted for CFA registration in 1967 and for championship competition in 1978.
Breeders find them easy to care for, resistant to disease, and good producers. Pet owners delight with their quiet, reserved and loving ways.
Pricing on American Wirehairs usually depends on type, applicable markings and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National or Regional winning parentage (NW or RW) or of Distinguished Merit parentage (DM). The DM title is achieved by the dam (mother) having produced five CFA grand champion/premier or DM offspring, or sire (father) having produced fifteen CFA grand champion/premier (alter) or DM offspring.
Usually breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, or being transported by air.
Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering or spaying and providing acceptable surfaces (e.g. scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery) are essential elements for maintaining a healthy, long and joyful life.
There are CFA clubs devoted to the promotion, protection and preservation of the American Wirehair breed.