American Wirehair: Straightforward and Honest Despite Their Wiry Hair

Close-up of an american-wirehair cat
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Have you always lived with cats all your life? Or are you interested in adopting your first one? If the latter is true, then as a beginner cat owner, you should choose a cat breed that’s easy to care for. Cats may have a reputation for being independent and low maintenance, but the truth is, not all cats are like that. Only a select few like the American Wirehair will take your hand and guide you through the intricacies of living with a feline companion instead of letting you stumble along in the dark.

The American Wirehair is a working cat; with them around, your house will be mice-free. Despite being serious and straightforward, they have a playful side to them too. They enjoy interacting with everyone within their vicinity. Another thing that makes this cat breed so special is the fact that they don’t require much grooming the way most cats do. These cats also have very few medical concerns.

A cute young .American Wirehair kitty

Although the American Wirehair is not a very recognized breed, there are lots of amazing facts about this feline that actually make them a distinguished breed as compared to most other cats. We have prepared a detailed review of this unusual cat breed to provide pet parents with useful information such as the cat’s history, grooming needs, care features, health concerns and the cat’s personality.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired / Semi Long-Haired, Mixed Breed
WeightMales: 12—15 pounds

Females: 8—12 pounds
Lifespan14—18 years

The American Wirehair is a medium to large-sized cat that features a compact, well muscled, and powerful body. This cat breed has a broad chest, a well-developed muzzle, and strong jaws. The American Wirehair is an adaptable breed that fits well as a household cat. Now, quite similar to the LaPerm, the American Wirehair was born as a surprise to two farm cats in upstate New York. Unlike the rest of the litter, this male cat had a distinguished coat that was quite different from his shorthaired parents.

Quite amazed by the spontaneous mutation of this breed, the farm’s owner revealed the unusual breed to a local breeder, Dr. Joan O’Shea, who developed an interest with the breed and later bought the cat for $50. In a bid to learn more about this unusual breed, O’Shea crossed the American Wirehair with an American Shorthair with the intention of replicating this spontaneous coat mutation. As time went on, this unusual breed gained popularity in the United States, Canada, Germany, and eventually other parts of Europe.

Close-up of an American Wirehair kitty

A calm feline that takes life as it comes; the American Wirehair makes a hobby out of watching birds fly through the sunny windowsill. Although most pet parents perceive the Wirehair as a less vocal feline, this cat is extremely affectionate, loving, and active—especially when handled by a pet-loving owner. This cat is patient and tolerant to children—making them a great choice for families with young kids.

When it comes to their activity level, the American Wirehair is playful and very energetic. Though silent, don’t be amazed to see this cat giving you a love bite or maybe scratching your head to say “Hey, look at me!” According to breeders, the females are considered to be more vocal and active while the males have a laidback personality.

A white/tabby cat lying on the couch looking playfully at the camera

This cat is extremely versatile and adaptable to any environmental setting they are exposed to. They can either be a lap cat or simply take advantage of the available cat toys to stay active and motivated. Due to their high activity levels, this cat is easily trainable and regular exercises such as walking them on a leash or providing them with scratch posts and cat trees will really keep them occupied and motivated throughout the day.

Now, the American Wirehair is considered to be an energetic cat with high activity levels. This characteristic is really an advantage as it allows the cat to stay healthy and free from common cat illnesses. However, since this cat came about as a result of a crossbreeding with the American Shorthair, there are chances that this breed can fall a victim to common diseases that affect the Shorthair.

Main Highlights

  • The American Wirehair was named after their unusual coat that resembles a steel wool wire.

  • An easy-going breed, this cat is a perfect companion for single pet parents, the aged, or large families with kids and other pets on board.

  • The American Wirehair has a broad neck, strong jaw, thick legs, as well as a muscular all around appearance.

  • This cat is quite pleasant to have around. They can either be a perfect lap cat or simply enjoy playing with the available cat toys when you’re not around.

  • The history of the American Wirehair is quite interesting. Just like the LaPerm, this cat came into existence as a surprise; the first American Wirehair was the only kitty with a distinguished appearance as compared to the rest of the litter.

  • The American Wirehair is either short or semi long-haired. The coat color can range from White, Blue, Silver, Golden, Red, Platinum, Cameo, Brown, to Cream while the patterns range from Smoke, Tabby, Bicolor, Tortoiseshell, Solid, to Calico.

  • With a life expectancy of 14 to 18 years, the American Wirehair is medium-sized with males weighing from 12 to 15 pounds and females between 8 and 12 pounds.

  • The American Wirehair is really adaptable. They can either be an indoor or outdoor cat depending on the environmental setting. They can be a lap cat or simply a feline that enjoys playing with the available cat toys set up for them.

Breed History

The American Wirehair is a unique breed that was first developed in the United States in 1966. Born in Council Rock Farm in Verona New York, the first American Wirehair was born with a unique coat that was quite different from his parents as well as the rest of the litter. The kitten was red and white in color and featured a sparse, crimped, and springy coat across his entire body—including the whiskers. The spontaneous coat mutation of this kitty differed from any other cat breeds.

With a need to learn more about this cat, the farm’s owner Nathan Mosher showed this unusual breed to a local breeder, Joan O’Shea, who recognized him as unique. With a need to learn more about the cat’s genes, O’Shea purchased this unique-coated kitty for $50 and named him Council Rock Adam of Hi-Fi. With an urge to replicate this spontaneous coat mutation, O’Shea bred the already-mature Council Rock Adam with a neighboring female cat that was also purchased from Nathan Mosher’s farm.

American Wirehair lying on the leafs

After a successful breeding program, the resulting litter of kittens had wiry coats that signified that the female queen also carried the wirehaired genes. Now, a second breeding test was conducted with an unrelated female American Shorthair—producing a similar result of wire-haired kitties. These results were highly essential to O’Shea who recognized the wirehair as a dominant gene.

Having developed more interest in the America Wirehair, O’Shea sent coat samples to British cat geneticists Roy Robinson and A.G. Searle for further analysis. Robinson replied to O’Shea with a report revealing that the cat’s coat was unique and was not related to the common Cornish and Devon Rexes. After gaining dominance in other parts of the world including Australia, Germany, and Canada, the American Wirehair finally received full recognition by the American Cat Fancier’s Association in 1978 after the breed was allowed to compete in the world championship.


The American Wirehair is a medium-to-large cat that features a heavy-bodied appearance. This feline has a life expectancy of 14 to 18 years and has strong, thick legs that make them extremely active as compared to other felines. Since they’re working cats, Australian Wirehairs are extremely active—something which makes them less prone to obesity.

American Wirehair kitten sitting on a table in airport

Talking about the weight, it’s good to understand that males are quite a bit heavier as compared to females. While the males have a weight ranging from 12 to 15 pounds, females range from 8 to 12 pounds.

Personality and Character

The American Wirehair has much the same personality as the American Shorthair. This cat is people-oriented, good-natured, easy-going, and very affectionate. They are a potentially excellent companion for all manners of people—including young kids and seniors. Blessed with a high activity level, the American Wirehair is extremely playful and enjoys interacting with the available toys including cat trees, cat tunnels, rat toys, and soccer balls among others.

Exhibiting a great interest in everything around them, the American Wirehair is versatile. Meaning, they can either be a lap cat that enjoys being groomed or simply opt to amuse themselves with the available toys especially while you are away.

American Wirehair trying to get up in a tree

Unlike most other breeds, this feline is not overly demanding of your attention. Due to their high interest in pretty everything, the American Wirehair is an independent cat that enjoys spending most of the time on their own.

When it comes to vocalization, the American Wirehair is described as a quiet feline that only meows when they need your attention. A cat that is known to retain their independence, if they are not allowed to go outdoors, this feline will satisfy their craving for the outside world by bird-watching.

Most breeders state that males have a laidback nature while females are more active and always ready to be engaged in almost any activity. Although this feline may be quiet, their loving personality is not to be underestimated.

Health and Potential Problems

The American Wirehair is known to be a healthy and a relatively disease-resistant breed. Now, although they’re recognized as a generally strong and resilient breed, they’re genetically-bred cats—meaning they’re prone to suffering from common illnesses that also afflicted their ancestors. Among the diseases pet parents should watch out for include:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This disease involves the enlargement of the heart muscle that causes sudden heart failure. Pet parents should understand that such a disease can occur in any cat—even those whose feeding pattern is watched carefully. Common symptoms of this illness include: lack of appetite, lethargy, weak pulse, and labored breathing. This illness can be treated by your local vet, who will administer aspirin or diltiazim. To reduce the risks of heart failure, pet parents are recommended to stick to a salt-reduced diet.

  • Skin allergies. This condition is mostly caused by ringworms, flies, environmental factors, food allergies, stress, grooming products, bacterial infections, or seasonal changes. Common symptoms include redness on the skin, rashes, and hair loss. Common treatments for this illness include feeding your feline with a dietary supplement, a balanced diet, as well as keeping in touch with your vet for antifungal medication.

  • Liver disease. You see, the liver is responsible for many functions such as filtering toxic substances from the blood. With such a large responsibility, the liver is susceptible to damage if your cat is not fed a balanced diet. Common symptoms of this illness include loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, lethargy, and depression. Although treatment is dependent on the underlying cause of illness, common treatments include nutritional support, dietary changes, and prescription drugs.

  • Feline idiopathic lower urinary tract disease. Also known as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, this disease affects the cat’s urinary system—causing painful urination. This infection also involves an inflammation of the bladder for unknown reasons.

Although the disease is very low in the U.S. and the U.K., common causes include: viruses such as calicivirus and noninfectious diseases like interstitial cystitis. If the condition is not serious, it can be alleviated by feeding your cat with cat food specially formulated for urinary care. For advanced cases, visiting your local vet for advanced treatment is the best option to avoid further damage.

Care Features

The American Wirehair doesn’t require much grooming. Due to the nature of the coat, it’s safer if you don’t brush the cat too often to avoid pulling on the hair and causing damage. To compensate, you may need to bathe them more often—except during winter.

Other than that, the American Wirehair will require regular grooming such as maintaining their dental hygiene and trimming their nails on a weekly basis. Brushing the teeth will prevent this feline from contracting any periodontal diseases which are common in most cat breeds.

Beautiful American Wirehair Cat sitting

Always remember to clean their eyes with a clean, damp cloth to remove eye discharge. Also, using a new cotton ball swab immersed in a mixture of cider vinegar and warm water, clean the cat’s ears gently to remove any dirt or wax build-up. Next, always remember to empty and clean the litter box to maintain proper bathroom hygiene.

Finally, we recommend that you keep your American Wirehair as an indoors-only cat. This will not only protect them from accidents or attacks by other animals but will also keep them safe and free from any infections or diseases spreading through the neighborhood. It will also keep them from getting lost by following strangers—something they tend to do because of their friendly personality.

Feeding Schedule

Pet parents should feed the American Wirehair with the right food to avoid any health complications. The American Wirehair should not be fed fruits, veggies, or high carb meals due to their status as obligate carnivores.

Instead, this feline should sustained with meat protein. For those who prefer purchasing pet food, it’s advisable that you choose foods rich in meat proteins but low in carbs. Always choose food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Redhead American Wirehair cat

Finally, we recommend mixing up your cat’s dry kibble with wet cat food. Keeping them strictly on a dry diet can cause urinary tract diseases. However, if you must stick to dry foods, ensure that you give your cat plenty of drinking water just to be on the safe side.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The American Wirehair’s springy, resilient, and crimped coat is quite unique. As we mentioned earlier, the coat of this cat doesn’t require frequent brushing; you might want to bathe them more often instead.

When it comes to their coat appearance, you’ll notice that the American Wirehair comes in a variety of different unique patterns and colors. Among the most common colors you’ll find include: White, Blue, Cream, Bluecream, Golden, Brown, Seal, Cameo, and Red. Among the most common coat patterns you’ll find include: Tortoiseshell, Tabby, Bicolor, Solid, Smoke, and Calico.

Gorgeous American Wirehair cat sitting

While discussing the health concerns of the American Wirehair, we explained that this cat breed was prone to skin allergies. Now, due to the nature of their coat, pet parents should seek advice from their vets on which shampoo solutions should be used when cleaning their coat. You can also make your own DIY cat shampoo for them.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

An affectionate and friendly feline, the American Wirehair is adaptable to any environmental setting provided they are shown adequate respect. This loving feline is patient, tolerant, and slow to anger—making them a great playmate for kids and other pets within the threshold. This feline enjoys learning new tricks and is especially compatible with children who treat them with love and handle them with respect. The American Wirehair can get along well with other pets within the house—except birds and other small animals due to their status as working cats and skilled hunters—provided they are introduced to them gradually.

Wrap Up

Blessed with a golden heart, the American Wirehair is a cat that thrives in human companionship. A well muscled and powerful feline that can be a potential lap cat, this adorable feline has the blood of a working cat—something which makes them a perfect mouse hunter. The American Wirehair is available in a blend of amazing coat patterns and colors that give them a rare and distinguished characteristic. With blue, gold, and green eyes, most pet parents will enjoy staring at this cat.

Last but not least, the American Wirehair should be kept indoors at all times to prevent them from catching diseases, accidents, and attacks. Blessed with a high activity level, this cat should not just be left to sleep all day. Instead, owners should purchase a variety of cat toys to keep this feline busy at all times.

American Wirehair cat lying on the kitchens floor

The American Wirehair is an all-rounder that’s perfect for beginner cat owners. They don’t demand too much of your attention as they can keep themselves amused even if they are kept indoors all day long. Or are you the type that prefers a cat that can fend for themselves outdoors? If so, you might want to check out this symbol of good luck! Before you do, please don’t forget to share a comment in the section below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.