American Wirehair Cat Breed Characteristics

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American wirehair cat quick facts

Length‌: 12 - 17 inches


Weight‌: Females: 8 - 12 pounds, Males: 12 - 15 pounds

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Lifespan‌: 12 - 18 years

Coat‌ ‌length‌: Medium


Coloring‌: Tabby is the most common pattern, although most coat colors and patterns are allowed except for lavender, chocolate, and the Himalayan pattern.

Grooming needs‌: Low


Friendliness‌: Breed alone is not an accurate predictor of individual cats' personalities. However, American wirehair cats are generally regarded as friendly and easygoing.

The American wirehair is a unique breed that is suitable for anyone looking for a friendly, laid-back, and curious addition to the family. The medium-sized cat boasts a recognizable crimped coat and comes in nearly every color. They are quite low maintenance and require only minimal grooming. They tend to be very social cats and will enjoy both play and cuddle time. Consider the breed's personality and care requirements to decide if an American wirehair cat is a right fit for your family.


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American wirehair cat history

The American wirehair cat breed developed in 1966 as a result of a genetic mutation. This spontaneous mutation occurred when two domestic shorthair barn cats in Upstate New York were bred. One of the resulting kittens was born with a unique wiry coat. Cat breeder Joan O'Shea acquired the wirehaired kitten from Nathan Mosher, the owner of the farm.



O'Shea named the kitten Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi and bred him to other female cats. The entire litter of kittens inherited the wiry hair, confirming that the coat is a dominant trait. Samples of hair were analyzed by geneticists who confirmed that the cats were a new breed and not related to the Cornish or Devon rex cats. This natural mutation has not been reported in other countries.


The breed was accepted into the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) in 1967 and the cats were allowed to enter CFA championship competitions beginning in 1978. The breed shares many characteristics with the American shorthair cat and breeding programs are still permitted to outcross American wirehair cats with American shorthairs. Outcrossing to other breeds is not permitted and coat colors and patterns that may indicate outcrossing are disqualifying traits under the breed standard. Prohibited colors and patterns include:


  • lavender
  • chocolate
  • Himalayan pattern
  • any of the above combinations with white

The hard coat of the American wirehair has been compared to steel wool, although the coarseness of the coat can vary from cat to cat. The coat is dense and springy and all of the hairs, including the hair in the ear, should be crimped or bent. Curly whiskers are also desirable. The cat comes in a variety of colors and patterns, with the tabby pattern being the most common. Other patterns you may see include:


  • solid colors (including white, black, blue, and cream)
  • tortoiseshell
  • calico
  • bicolor
  • cameo
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American wirehair cat personality

American wirehair cats are social, curious, and laid-back. They enjoy being with people and are adaptable to many different situations. They do well with a single owner, assuming they get plenty of attention, or with a family filled with children and other pets. The cats enjoy cuddling with their people, but they aren't strictly lap cats.


They have a moderate activity level and are quite athletic. They will entertain themselves and play with catnip mice or jump, climb, and run around the house. Don't be surprised if their curious nature leads them to explore bookshelves and other nooks and crannies around the home.

While the cats can entertain themselves, they prefer to be with their human family and enjoy interactive play. Consider play sessions using a teaser wand. You can also teach these cats to play a game of fetch. The breed can be a bit chatty and many American wirehairs have a loud purr.

American wirehair cat lifespan and health issues

American wirehairs are generally quite healthy and can live well into their teens. There are no known genetic health problems that plague the breed.

Regular veterinary check-ups can help keep the cat healthy and identify any potential concerns early. It is also important to keep the cat up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations.

American wirehair cat grooming and care

This cat breed is very low maintenance. The medium-length, springy, wirehair coat is easily broken or damaged. Therefore, brushing the cat is not recommended for most of the year. An occasional brushing when the cat is shedding can help to remove the loose, dead fur. Some people may think that the coarse, wiry hair may make the breed hypoallergenic, but this is not the case. American wirehairs shed as much as many other cats.

While coat care is rarely necessary, don't neglect other grooming tasks including:

  • checking and trimming the cat's nails
  • checking and cleaning the cat's ears
  • brushing the cat's teeth with veterinarian-approved toothpaste.

Feed high-quality commercial cat food in the amount recommended by your veterinarian and provide fresh drinking water at all times.


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Welcoming a new cat into your home

Once you decide to bring an American wirehair kitten into your home, there is plenty to do to prepare for their arrival. Prepare a single room where you can welcome the new cat and they can safely explore to get used to the new scents and surroundings. Set up the room with everything your new cat may need including:

  • food and water
  • litter box
  • cat tree
  • scratching post
  • cat toys

Also, make sure you cat-proof both the room and the rest of the house. As a small kitten, your American wirehair may not be able to get to high shelves, but be aware that as they grow, these curious and agile cats may well explore the tops of bookshelves and other areas they can reach. Remove any dangerous items such as poisonous plants and secure any breakable items your new cat may knock off the shelf or table.

When your new cat arrives, allow them to explore the room at their own pace. Spend plenty of time with them, but avoid pushing them to explore new areas or to stay still to be petted before they are ready. Let them approach you and use plenty of positive reinforcement.

Introduce your new cat to other members of the family, including other pets. Once your American wirehair cat is comfortable, you can open the door and allow them access to more of the home. Before you know it, this social cat will be an active member of the family.



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