January 12, 2019

American Wirehair Cat

There is always an exception in every kind of situation. The appearance of the American Wirehair Cat in the mid 1960s is one such example. This happened to Council Rock Farm in Verona, New York. Found in a litter of 6 kittens born to normal-coated domestic Shorthair parents were one that wears a different coat. This kitten has a coat of fur that was sparse and wiry and whiskers that were crimped and springy.

It quickly caught the attention of a local breeder, Joan O’Shea, who appreciates its uniqueness. She then acquired it with a cost, and named it Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi. Living out her profession, she bred the pet to a neighboring cat that was suggested to have also carried the gene for wiry hair. As expected, the litter of kittens born had inherited the wiry hair feature of their parents.

A second breeding with an unrelated female had also resulted in wired hair kittens, thus, establishing the wire coat gene as a dominant gene. It has been purported that such gene might have a connection with the Cornish or Devon Rexes, both of which have twisted hair types and awn hairs that are hooked at the tip as well. However, samples of Adam’s hair were sent to cat geneticists A.F Searle and Roy Robinson and the analysis has revealed that Adam’s hair was unrelated to the Cornish or Devon Rexes. Thus, a new breed that was of a spontaneous, natural mutation was born.

In the late 1970s, this new breed was officially recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association, the Canadian Cat Association and the World Cat Federation. The American Wirehair, however, was more akin to the American Shorthair and can be said to differ only in their coats. These two cats had been bred together in order to further develop the American Wirehair. There were a significant influence on the head and body shape as a result of the outcross, but the wiry coat has remained.

Physical appearance and attributes
The American Wirehair is a stable medium-sized cat. With medium boning, this cat weighs between 8 – 15 pounds. Its sturdy body is supported by its muscular legs with rounded paws and heavy pads. Its tail is medium in length and tapers into a rounded tip.

The American Wirehair has a head that is slightly longer than it is wide and is set off with predominant cheekbones, a medium-short muzzle and a strong chin. Adding to that delightful and pleasing expression is a pair of large clear eyes with outer corners that slant slightly upwards. The eyes are well set apart and come in an array of colors.

Complementing the appearance is a pair of medium ears that is wide at the base, faintly rounded at the tips and set twice the distance between the eyes. What defines and distinguishes the American Wirehair from the other cats is its springy wired hair coat that is liken to the lamb’s wool. They are tight and resilient. It comes in varying colors and patterns and the degree of wiriness ranges from spiked to curly, sometimes forming tight ringlets. The wiriness is dependent on the individual hairs, i.e., whether they are being crimped, hooked or bent. Ideally, its coat, including the whiskers, should be dense, coarse and crimped. The coat is fairly soft to the touch and the hairs will spring back in place when combed or brushed.

Like the American Shorthair, this breed takes an average of 3 -4 years to reach maturity. Thus, you will have a kitten for a good span of years before having a cat with features that will then be at their best.

Personality and temperament
The personality of the American Wirehair is similar to that of the American Shorthair, perhaps a little less aloof and able to display its affection better. It is generally an even-tempered cat that displays a good nature and gentle demeanor. This can be evidenced also in its small and unobtrusive voice.

Not highly demanding in personal attention, the American Wirehair is able to keep itself entertained with any toys that it lays its paws on. Having its own share of playfulness, it enjoys interactive play and when in the mood, would bring a game to the owner.

The American Wirehair is highly adaptable to its surroundings. Thus, it has proved itself to be a friendly mate to other cats and cat-friendly dogs, and a tender companion to the different individuals in the household. Its affection is displayed through its devotion that will see it staying close by to you.

The hunting instincts of the American Shorthairs may sometimes be apparent in this breed as well. This breed is smart and willing to learn, hence, it can be easily trained to learn the ropes of different tricks or any disciplines in the house.

Care and health issues
There are a few health issues concerning the American Wirehair. Having been crossed with the American Shorthairs, the main concern would be the development of a disease that has affected this breed. This includes Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). It is advisable to obtain a written health guarantee from the relevant breeders that would also help to ensure that the parents have been tested for such diseases.

The coat of the American Wirehair tends to develop greasy coat oil secreted from the skin. Thus, regular bathing would be necessary to keep the coat clean and remove dead hair. Unless it is shedding heavily, regular brushing and combing of the coat is not needed as it might damage the wired hairs.

Good hygiene practices such as weekly nail trimming and teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste would be ideal. Occasional cleaning with a recommended cleanser would help to maintain the overall health of the cat.

The ideal home
Having a certain level of independence and being non-demanding, the American Wirehair is able to acclimatise well as a pet to individuals, couples or a family with varying lifestyles.

Even though it can be compatible with apartment or condo dwellings, spaces for adventures should be created to satisfy its moderate active lifestyle. This would also help to ensure that there are enough simulations for its mind and adequate exercise for a healthy growth.

Known also for its rarity, this placid, highly affectionate and endearing breed will certainly be a treasure to have as a pet.


Image Credit
Photo by Heikki Siltala - CC BY 3.0

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