What To Know About American Wirehair


In this Article

  • Characteristics of an American Wirehair
  • Caring for American Wirehairs
  • Health Problems To Watch For With American Wirehair
  • Special Considerations for American Wirehairs
  • History of American Wirehairs

The American Wirehair breed is the result of a random mutation of the American Shorthair that happened in 1966 in Vernon, New York. The mutation occurred among a litter born to a pair of barn cats. 

The American Wirehair is an easygoing, friendly, and medium-sized cat breed. They are excellent pets due to their adaptability with adults, kids, and seniors. 

American Shorthair and American Wirehair characteristics are almost the same. The only feature that differs is their coat type. American Wirehair cats require regular grooming and doctor visits to stay healthy for a long time. 

Characteristics of an American Wirehair

American Wirehairs are furry cats with an athletic build. The average American Wirehair size of an adult cat is around when standing. Males weigh more than females, but the estimated weight of both is between 6 to 11 pounds.

These cats are found in all common colors, particularly full tabby or tabby with white variations.


American Wirehairs have a strong body with well-defined hindquarters and chest. They are normal-sized with broad heads, and males have well-developed cheeks. Their noses and faces are also medium-sized, with wide-set eyes and ears. Males are larger than females.

The American Wirehair has a hard, wiry coat, which is quite different from an American Shorthair’s regular, short coat. Their muzzles give a squarish effect to their faces.


American Wirehair personality traits include being loyal, friendly, and easygoing cats. They love people of all age groups, making them one of the best family cat breeds. They like human attention and companionship, so they thrive in crowded homes. 

These cats are also curious, so they can get into trouble frequently. American Wirehairs are active cats that like to play games with their owners as well as cuddle with them. 

Caring for American Wirehairs

The hard, wiry coats of American Wirehairs require minimal grooming. It’s better not to brush or comb your cat’s coat regularly, or you may damage it. Thus, only brush the cat when the coat starts shedding heavily, mainly due to seasonal changes.

Your American Wirehair can have sensitive skin that immediately reacts to outside factors, resulting in allergies or infections. To avoid these risks, you should bathe your cat regularly and clean their coat and skin thoroughly.

Regular bathing sessions will remove loose, dead hairs from your American Wirehair’s skin that may cause irritation. This routine can also eliminate extra oil from the cat’s coat. 

As with other cat breeds, you must regularly trim American Wirehair’s nails and brush their teeth with pet-friendly toothpaste. 


American Wirehairs require both core and non-core vaccines to stay safe from pathogens. The American Association of Feline Practitioners Vaccination Advisory Panel recommends giving these core vaccines to all pet cats that stay indoors:

  • Panleukopenia. This virus results in vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and fever in cats.
  • Feline herpesvirus. This causes upper respiratory infection, inflammation of the inner eyelids and cornea, and lethargy. 
  • Calicivirus. This causes upper respiratory infection, frequent sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy, sore gums, lameness, and pneumonia (rarely). The virus can be deadly in more than half of affected cats.
  • Rabies virus. This deadly virus spreads through bite wounds or the saliva of an infected skunk, raccoon, fox, coyote, or bat. Rabies can become fatal for humans and cats once symptoms develop.
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV). This is a retrovirus that damages the cat’s immune system and may lead to cancer. It can be spread through an infected cat’s saliva or nasal secretion and can be life-threatening for household cats. Therefore, every kitten needs to be vaccinated against FeLV until they turn a year old. After that, only those cats that come in contact with FeLV-infected or outdoor cats must continue receiving this vaccine.

Your American Wirehair may also need a set of non-core vaccines. A cat needs additional vaccines based on the intensity of its exposure to an infected object or organism. Some non-core vaccines your cat may need include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Chlamydia felis

Some of these vaccines may not be effective for your American Wirehair. Therefore, your doctor will only give a vaccine to your cat after a comprehensive check-up.


American Wirehairs are active cats that love to play with their owners. Since they enjoy their owners’ company, you can take them to your backyard for regular outings. They are friendly, so you may not find them fighting with other cats. 

Regular exercise will keep your cat in shape and in a good mood.


This cat breed is easy to train. They like playing fetch, so you can begin their training with this exercise. Keeping the training routine low-key is better, as these cats prefer cuddling and sitting with their owners. 

American Wirehairs are smart and won’t take much time learning basic things like using a litter box.


American Wirehairs like to have multiple varieties of food. These cats eat a little food at a time, so you can give them a small amount of wet food once a day. You also need to give your cat dry food in a bowl, which they can eat whenever they like. 

The daily nutritional diet of your cat depends on its activity level and age. To help them learn and train faster, you can offer your cat a limited quantity of treats. Giving your cat too many treats may make them obese. 

Ensure that your American Wirehair always has access to clean and fresh water. If you think your cat is drinking too little water, try putting the water bowl at least three feet from its food bowl. Cats have sensitive noses, so they may be attracted to the smell of food instead of drinking water.

You may want to have your American Wirehair diet plan developed by your vet. 

Health Problems To Watch For With American Wirehair

American Wirehairs are strong and healthy cats. However, they are crossbred with the American Shorthair, so they may develop or inherit health conditions common to Shorthairs, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), skin allergies, and obesity. 

Remember that all cats can have health issues. Don’t trust breeders who claim otherwise.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a cardiac condition that thickens the muscular walls of a cat’s heart, primarily in the left ventricle. As a result, the heart chamber decreases in volume, and the heart muscles relax abnormally.

A cat with HCM may have the following symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate
  • More oxygen consumption, leading to open-mouthed breathing
  • Arrhythmias (irregular rhythm of the heart)
  • Lethargy
  • Congestive heart failure


Obesity or excessive weight is a common health issue for almost all types of pets, including the American Wirehair. This condition can cause many health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and digestive disorders. 

This is why it’s recommended to limit the treats you give your cat. 

Make sure your American Wirehair’s treat intake doesn’t exceed 10% of their total calorie count. When spending time with your cat, you can pet and play with them as appreciation instead of giving them food or treats. 

Keeping an American Wirehair at an appropriate weight is the most effective way to ensure their overall well-being. 

Skin Allergies

American Wirehairs have unusual wiry coats with fragile hairs that can easily fall out or break with brushing. The skin of these cats can also get greasy.

Oily skin is vulnerable to allergens and yeast infections. Regular bathing and grooming sessions can help you maintain your cat’s skin oil balance and deal with frequent shedding of the coat. 

Your American Wirehair with skin allergies may show these signs: 

  • Itchy skin
  • Inflammation or redness
  • Frequent hair loss from the coat
  • Over-grooming, such as excessive licking, chewing, and biting
  • Rashes

Special Considerations for American Wirehairs

Your American Wirehair grooming routine must include cleaning their ears. Use cotton swabs or balls to gently swab the inside of your cat’s ears to keep them clean.

History of American Wirehairs

American Wirehair history takes us to New York in the 1960s, when a random mutation occurred in a litter of kittens belonging to a barn cat pair. The resulting cat was a red-and-white American Wirehair male with a sparse, wiry coat. The cat’s parents, Fluffy and Bootsie, were domestic shorthairs with normal coats owned by Nathan Mosher. 

The cat’s owner sold him for $50 to a local breeder named Joan O’Shea, along with a normal-coated female kitten for breeding purposes. O’Shea named the male “Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi” and the female “Tip-Top”. 

When their population started to grow, cats got exported to Germany and Canada. The breeding between Adam and Tip-Top became popular, leading to its recognition in 1967 by the CFA. In 1978, the breed qualified for a championship competition. 

Show Sources

Photo Credits:

1. Boy_Anupong / Getty Images


Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: “Feline Diabetes,” “Feline Vaccines: Benefits and Risks,” “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.”

Europetnet: “American Wirehair.”

International Cat Care: “American Wirehair.”

The Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc: “American Wirehair.”

The International Cat Association: “American Wirehair at a Glance.”

Vetstreet: “American Wirehair Cat Breed Information.”

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