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American Wirehair

American Wirehair

Place of origin

New York, United States

History

Wirehaired or broken-coated cats have been reported only a few times around the world. American Wirehairs trace their heritage back to two kittens from barn cat litters born in upstate New York in 1966. The founding father of the breed was a red and white male called Adam, whose coat was dense, harsh, and springy. An experienced Rex breeder noticed Adam’s unique fur, acquired him, and bred him to both a related female barn cat and to an unrelated female. Both litters produced wirehaired kittens, thus establishing it as a new dominant gene mutation. Genetic testing determined Adam was indeed a new breed, with no connection to the Cornish or Devon Rex, two early breeds with wiry coats. Outcrossing to American Shorthair cats helped expand the initial population of cats, and this outcross continues to the present. Select domestic shorthaired cats have also been brought into the breed.

The CFA recognized the American Wirehair in 1977. Unlike that of the earlier Cornish, German, and Devon Rex breeds, the wirehair of the American breed is due to a dominant gene and therefore does not always breed true. The fur is crinkled and coarse, with hooked or bent hairs, like that of a Fox Terrier dog. This breed does not seem to have attracted the same popularity as the Cornish and Devon Rex and has grown slowly. It has not yet attracted interest outside of North America.

Physical description

The crimped, springy coat is the unique characteristic that defines this breed. The coat is soft to the touch yet has a unique resilience that needs to be felt to be appreciated. The coat texture can take a while to develop in kittens, so breeders may not know until the kittens are many weeks old which ones in a litter will "wire up" and which will have a normal coat. The wired effect is most evident in the whiskers and at the base of the tail. Some cats have extensively wired coats that are so brittle that the hairs are prone to break off, resulting in a sparse coat. Coat texture and appearance varies between individuals, with the most desirable coat being dense, coarse, and wired all over the body. The body and head type of the Wirehair is similar, but not identical, to the solidly built American Shorthair, the breed used to expand the population. This is a medium, well-muscled cat, with large rounded eyes.

Colors and varieties

The American Wirehair occurs in the same colors as the American Shorthair. Tabby colors in brown, silver, patched, and red, both with and without white, are most commonly seen in this breed, although just about every color is accepted, with the exception of chocolate, lilac, and the colorpoint pattern.

Temperament

Like their American Shorthair relatives, Wirehairs are friendly, playful cats who enjoy the caresses of their owners as much as their human family members enjoy the feel of the Wirehairs' unique coats.

Activity level

Moderate

Vocal level

Moderate

Special needs

Because the same abnormality in the hair follicle that causes the hairs to curl or kink also interferes with skin secretions (sebum) moving away from the skin, some Wirehaired cats, like some Rex cats, may need to be bathed frequently and their ears cleaned regularly to prevent these secretions from accumulating in the hair follicles or ear canal and causing dermatological problems.

Variations

Longhaired kittens are occasionally born in American Wirehair litters but are not recognized for competition. An unrelated wirehaired breed called the Bramble has been developed from Bengal and Peterbald cats.

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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