American Wirehair cat: this special rarity even has a curly moustache
László Enikő, 2023. March 10 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary, Wikipedia: American Wirehair
The American Wirehair, known for its unique coat, is the result of a spontaneous mutation. Although undoubtedly a unique breed, it is extremely rare outside the United States.
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The American Wirehair is a calm and tolerant pet that adapts easily to different living situations. His favourite hobby is bird watching from a sunny windowsill. This special furry cat loves to rest on his owner’s lap as much as he loves to play.
The American Wirehair was created by spontaneous mutation in 1966 in New York State. Six kittens were born in a litter in a factory in Vernon, and one of them, a red and white tom, had a special, thick and wiry coat. His appearance was very different from his brothers, as his coat was similar to that of a sheep. The owner immediately called local rex breeder Joan O’Shea, who determined that she was definitely dealing with a new breed. So she bought Adam of Hi-Fi (Adam for short), a special cat from Council Rock Farm, along with his female sister Tip-Top.
Joan then crossed the two cats, two of whose four kittens had wire hair. The next litter confirmed that it was a dominant gene. That is, if only one parent is wire-haired, half of the kittens will be wire-haired. Later, to avoid inbreeding, American Shorthairs were used to crossbreed the special coat. The American Wirehair was officially recognised as a breed in 1978, twelve years after the first kitten was born. The breed is very rare in Europe, as very few specimens live outside of the United States.
The American Wirehair is a medium-sized cat, weighing about 3.5-7 kg. His body is muscular, proportionate and stocky. Eyes are wide and round, set far apart. They are usually golden in colour, but always match the colour of the coat. The feet are moderately large, with rounded ends. Legs of medium length, proportionate to the body. Paws are closed and oval. Coat is wiry, hard to the touch and flexible. The special coat is present in some cats from birth, in others it develops only a few months later. The ideal coat is short, dense and compact, coarser on the head, on the back and at the base of the tail. The ends of the hairs are bent back like a hook. The moustache and ear hairs have a characteristic curl. They can be two-coloured: silver tabby, cameotabby, calico, chinchilla, tortoiseshell; or solid: black, white, cream, blue, red. Expected lifetime 7-12 years.
The American Wirehair has a personality very similar to its American Shorthair cousin: adaptable, good-natured, affectionate and playful cat who loves to have fun. Sporty, athletic cat with a medium activity level. He enjoys playtime as much as he enjoys resting on his owner’s lap. He likes to play with intelligence games and with other cats, as he is a sociable cat. However, he likes to maintain his independence and sometimes likes to go off on his own when he wants some privacy. Very friendly, when guests arrive he is there to greet them. His voice is relatively infrequent.
The calm but playful American Wirehair is the perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He can learn tricks and loves the attention he gets from children, and is very tolerant of them. He is a great playmate, but it’s important to give him a special place to go when he needs some privacy. He is an ideal choice for a multi-cat household, as he is very social.
The special wire coat is easy to maintain. It is sufficient to brush the coat once a week and then comb it out with a strong comb. However, too frequent grooming can be detrimental to the coat, so it should not be overdone, and should only be done during the shedding period. It takes about a week after bathing for the coat to return to its original shape. Claws must be trimmed if they become too long, and it is a good idea to clean the teeth regularly. Wipe his eyes occasionally with a soft, damp cloth. To avoid infections, use a separate area of the cloth for each eye. The cleanliness of the ears should be checked weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them with a cotton pad or a soft, damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water.
Common health problems
The American Wirehair is generally healthy, but because it can be crossed with the American Shorthair, it may develop problems that affect this breed, including hip dysplasia and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The latter is the most common form of heart disease in cats and causes enlargement of the heart muscle (hypertrophy). The disease is hereditary. Hip dysplasia is also an inherited defect of the hip socket. The problem can range from a painless condition to severe lameness. American Wirehairs with hip dysplasia typically move slowly, carefully and do not jump. Depending on the severity of the condition, weight loss, medication or surgery may help to relieve the pain.
(Literature used: János Szinák – István Veress: Cat Guide, Jean-Luc Renck: The Cat, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Our Best Friend, the Cat, The Complete Cat Breed Book)