American Wirehair

American Wirehair
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.

The American Wirehair is distinguished by its coat - as the result of natural mutation, every hair is crimped and springy, including the whiskers. This mutation first made itself known in a litter of kittens born in 1966 in upstate New York; twelve years later, in 1978, it was accepted for championship status by CFA.

American Wirehair - Current - American Shorthair type cat with short, coarse, wiry coat with a thick undercoat, similar to that of Wirehair Terrier dogs.

There is considerable variation in the degree of "wiring" to the hair; if the hair is too long or too soft, it may straighten or form waves and ringlets with age. The ideal American Wirehair coat is hard and springy. Natural athletes, the American Wirehair is a strong, muscular cat that likes active play as well as affection and quiet time. The original mutation occurred in a domestic shorthair, and the American Shorthair has also contributed to the development of the breed. Wirehairs are found in a variety of colors and patterns.

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.


Like the American Curl breed, the Wirehair started as a spontaneous mutation in the domestic cat population. In 1966 breeder Joan O'Shea acquired from a small farm in upstate New York a kitten that was "just a hair different." As a breeder of Rex breeds, O'Shea recognized that the scruffy-looking red and white bicolor male kitten might represent a new breed of cat.

Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi-the kitten's given name-was later bred to the neighbor's straight-coated cat, which also had come from the farm. The breeding produced two more Wirehairs, which O'Shea bought and named Abby and Amy.

O'Shea sold Amy to Rex breeders Bill and Madeline Beck, who became instrumental in helping the breed achieve notice in the cat fancy. Amy gave birth to a number of Wirehairs, including a cat named Barberry Ellen, the first homozygous Wirehair to be born.

In 1967 the Becks petitioned the CFA to accept Wirehairs for registration. The petition was granted. The breed went on to achieve CFA Championship status in 1978.

Since the breed sprang from the domestic cat population, O'Shea felt that the standard should reflect the American Shorthair's conformation with a specific standard written for the coat. Since then, the standards have changed slightly to reflect changes that appeared in subsequent litters.

O'Shea stopped working with the breed around 1970; the Becks did not work with the breed for much longer, either. Since then, a handful of breeders, judges, and exhibitors have kept the Wirehair breed going, and have also worked to improve the original body style by selectively breeding for a more American Shorthair type. Currently, the numbers are limited. In 1995 only 74 Wirehairs were registered with the CFA. Waiting lists can be long and prices high.

While the breed seems to be entirely "made in America," research indicates that the mutation may have occurred before. Cats with coats similar to the Wirehair apparently were seen in derelict bomb sites in London after World War II. Two of these cats were apparently 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 may never know.


Wirehairs are people cats that crave human attention and affection. They are active without being hyper, and affectionate without being clingy. They exhibit 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 humans' feelings and try to offer comfort and companionship when their chosen humans are feeling blue. That's when they turn on the purrs and sit beside them to offer their support.

As cats go, Wirehairs have a genuine sense of humor, and love to be the centers of attention. Agile and fun-loving, they enjoy playing the clown and are generally more playful and active than the American Shorthair.

As with any breed, temperament depends upon upbringing and bloodline, and the American shorthair crosses has had an effect on the wirehair personality, too. However, in general, fanciers say that a sweet, loving personality comes with the kinky coat. Wirehairs are playful without being hyper, and affectionate without being clingy. They want to be involved in every aspect of your life, and will follow you from room to room to make sure your activities meet with their approval. Wirehairs generally dislike being held and cuddled, though, preferring to be a "four on the floor" cat. Wirehairs are also known for their playful natures and clown-like antics. They love to be the center of attention and amuse their humans with daring attacks upon catnip mice and daring leaps to the tops of cat trees. Fanciers say that wirehairs seem particularly in tune with their humans' feelings and offer comfort and companionship when their favorite humans are feeling blue. That's when they turn on the purrs and crawl into your lap to offer feline support.

Since American shorthairs were, and still are, used in wirehair breeding programs, the body type has been influenced by the ASH. Medium to large in size, wirehairs are strong and well-muscled with strong legs and firm full paws. The head is round with prominent cheekbones and a well-developed muzzle and chin. The ears are medium size and slightly rounded, and the eyes are large, round, and set well apart. The medium length tail tapers to a rounded tip.

Of course, it's the coat that really sets this breed apart. Each hair is crimped, hooked or bent, including the whiskers and the hair within the ears, giving this breed a unique coat that's short, springy, resilient, coarse, and very dense. While not considered one of the rex breeds, the American wirehair possesses a mutation that's similar in some respects. All three types of hairs (down, awn and guard), are affected. Since the breed is still being developed, significant variation in fur texture and length can exist from cat to cat.

All colors and patterns are accepted with the exception of those showing evidence of hybridization resulting in the colors chocolate, lavender, the colorpoint pattern or those combinations with white.


The coat differs from the Cornish Rex's coat in that the Wirehair possesses all three hair types. Also, the Wirehair gene is dominant, unlike the Cornish and the Devon Rex's recessive genes. The Wirehair's hairs are crimped, hooked, or bent, resulting in a dense, resilient coat that leads to ringlet formation rather than waves. Breeders sent British geneticist Roy Robinson samples of the hairs and he concluded that all three types of hairs (down, awn, and guard) are twisted. At present, significant variation exists in the texture and length of the individual coats. The most preferred coat is short, very dense, and coarse to the touch.

GeneralThe American Wirehair is a spontaneous mutation. The coat, which is not only springy, dense, and resilient, but also coarse and hard to the touch, distinguishes the American Wirehair from all other breeds. Characteristic is activity, agility, and keen interest in its surroundings.
BodyMedium to large. Back level, shoulders and hips same width, torso well-rounded and in proportion. Males larger than females.
HeadIn proportion to the body. Underlying bone structure is round with prominent cheekbones and well-developed muzzle and chin. There is a slight whisker break.
Nose/Muzzle/ChinIn profile the nose shows a gentle concave curve. Muzzle is well-developed. Allowance for jowls in adult males. Chin is firm and well-developed with no malocclusion.
EarsMedium, slightly rounded at tips, set wide and not unduly open at the base.
EyesLarge, round, bright, and clear. Set well apart. Aperture has slight upward tilt.
Legs/PawsLegs are medium in length and bone, well-muscled and proportionate to body. Paws are firm, full and rounded, with heavy pads. Toes, five in front and four behind.
TailIn proportion to body, tapering from the well-rounded rump to a rounded tip, neither blunt nor pointed.
CoatSpringy, tight, medium in length. Individual hairs are crimped, hooked, or bent, including hair within the ears. The overall appearance of wiring and the coarseness and resilience of the coat is more important than the crimping of each hair. The density of the wired coat leads to ringlet formation rather than waves. That coat, which is very dense, resilient, crimped, and coarse, is most desirable, as are curly whiskers.
ColorAny color or pattern is acceptable except those that indicate hybridization, such as chocolate or lavender colors or the Himalayan pattern.
PenalizeDeep nose break.
DisqualifyIncorrect coat. Kinked or abnormal tail. Long or fluffy fur. Incorrect number of toes. Evidence of hybridization resulting in the colors chocolate, lavender, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white.
Allowable OutcroosesAmerican Shorthair