American Wirehair

The American Wirehair should be more popular. The coat is interesting and the body conformation balanced and regular. The American Wirehair was first developed in the United States in the 1960’s. This is a very rare breed of cat if registrations with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) is anything to go by. They had (perhaps still have) the smallest number of registrations with the CFA; 22 cats were registered in 2003. There are 41 CFA breeds registered. In fact since building this page having researched rare cat breeds, I would place this 8/10 in terms of rarity.


This cat breed is very similar to the American Shorthair cat except, of course, for the coat. Having seen an American Wirehair at cat shows, they seem quite fragile (if that isn’t the correct word) and certainly less robust than the more solid American Shorthair. This, though, is my opinion.

Origin and History

The story of the origin of this breed varies slightly. This is not uncommon. However, the breed’s origins are similar to that of a number of breeds of cat; a spontaneous mutation of a gene. In this instance it occurred in the birth of a litter of 6 kittens. One of the kittens, a male, had a curly and dense coat unlike any other.

The parent cats were both American Shorthair barn cats (this resembles the origins of the LaPerm cat which also has a Rex [curly] type coat) living in New York state. The person who took charge of the litter, who I will presume was the owner of the barn where the cats lived, contacted a local breeder, of Rex cats, Mrs. William O’Shea. Mrs O’Shea bought the curly haired male together with a female from the same litter who had normal hair. She called the male ‘Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi’, and the female ‘Tip-Toe of Hi-Fi’. She developed the breed from these two cats.

The breed was then further developed by mating the wire haired cats with American Shorthair cats amongst other breeds. All cats of this breed have Adam as a distant relative. This all started in 1966. The breed was first registered by the CFA in 1967 and Championship status was granted in 1978. A relatively smooth passage to full status.

The American Wirehair is unique to America. What is also unique is the coat, which is different to all other breeds. As is the case for the Persian cat, there is a wide variation in coat texture. The genetic mutation is dominant meaning that approximately half the litter will have wirehair if an American Wirehair is outcrossed. A hard dense, springy coat texture is the most desirable (wiry or coarse as the breed name suggests).

See another Helmi photo of the above cat.

Appearance, Character and Health

The American Wirehair is a medium sized cat (go to domestic cat breed size) weighing between 8 to 15 lbs2 (3.5-7kg) although I think the upper figure is too high. The fur coat is thick and tightly crimped. The fur is also springy, dense and coarse, and even the whiskers are often curled. The fur has been described as like “steel wool”1. The head should be medium sized inline with the medium sized body. The cheekbones should be high. I found this very noticeable in the cats that I saw at shows. The bone structure is less substantial than that of the American Shorthair. They can be outcrossed with the American Shorthair.

Conformation (the look/shape of the body) is similar to the American Shorthair, muscular and strong. This is because the breed is outcrossed to the American Shorthair. The cat is therefore athletic. The American Wirehair comes in a range of “traditional category colours” 1. The breed colours are: self and tortie, smoke, shaded and tipped, tabbies, shaded tabbies, bi-colours. They have been described as “busy, occasionally bossy”2. They are also described as playful, affectionate and loving1. I won’t go into the character of this breed because in my research I have found that all cat breeds have similar personalities born out of their domestication; that is affectionate and people orientated. This is to be expected. In fact the American Wirehairs shares the same or similar personality to the American Shorthair. They are also agile and active.

There will be differences between cats of the same breed due to environmental influences and these differences are in my opinion greater than the inherent differences found between the various breeds. The CFA recommend the cat be kept indoors as it is so rare. Clearly, if kept indoors (s)he should have adequate means to exercise and entertain herself. They take a great deal of interest in their surroundings and are for the most part quite affectionate and intelligent.

This cat has a quiet voice and is not very vocal. The American Wirehair is accepted in ACFA, CCA, CFA, TICA, and WCF. As to health it is frequently hard to find good information. The CFA says this cat has few major health problems, indicating some health problems but not specifying them. I’ll keep searching. Ross D Clark says that “currently there is no evidence of any specific breed disorders common to the Wirehair.”3

This cat is odd-eyed. Read why this happens by clicking on this link


The dominant gene wirehair gene is symbolized by the letters Wh. The coat develops slowly. The wirehair gene produces fur that is quite fragile as it is prone to breaking. A dense coat is preferable and breeders select for this. The wirehair gene has “incomplete dominance” (partial dominance). The word “dominance” in respect of genetic science refers to the fact that the allele (one copy of a pair) can have different effects on the look of the cat despite being the same allele (on copy of a pair of genes). I’ve written a bit more on this page: American Wirehair cat.

Breeders + Standards

If you’d like to be a listed breeder, either on this page (free) or a full custom designed sponsored page, please contact me. This breed is recognised by ACFA, CCA, TICA and CFA.

CFA breed standard: standard

TICA breed standard: standard


1. Legacy of the Cat by Gloria Stephens and Tetsu

2. The Encyclopedia Of The Cat by Dr Bruce Fogle

3. Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats


  • CFA
  • Wikipedia

From American Wirehair to Home Page

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

Nervous cat at the vet’s finds comfort in guardian’s jacket

This is very much unsurprising feline behavior but very cute nonetheless and the cat's owner…

4 hours ago

Cat’s brain is unencumbered which makes the cat instinctively quick

It is 4:30 in the morning and I've just fed my cat. He came in…

6 hours ago

Dogs and Cats Are Friends, Not Food

The words in the title are those of a campaign organised and managed by youngsters…

6 hours ago

Impressive Maine Coon at 6 weeks and 6-years-of-age

This is a well known Maine Coon (MC). Highly impressive and imposing. I have seen…

14 hours ago

Why do stray cats come to my house?

Genuine stray cats come to your house because (1) they are domesticated cats who have…

18 hours ago

Cat howling after eating?

Is your cat howling after eating? I feel that the first question to ask is…

21 hours ago