The American Wirehair cat resulted as a spontaneous mutation. Their coat, which is not only springy, dense, and resilient, but also coarse and hard to the touch, distinguishes the American Wirehair from all other breeds.
The American Wirehair’s hair may be abrasive and unruly, but their personality is anything but. American Wirehair are people cats that enjoy their family’s attention and affection and are loyal and playful. They are active without being hyper, and affectionate without being clingy.
Similar in personality to the American Shorthair, American Wirehairs are mild-mannered, middle-of-the-road cats. Not demanding, they enjoy their family’s attention but retain their independent spirit. Agile and fun-loving, they often enjoy playing fetch and are a bit more playful and active than the American Shorthair. They enjoy interactive toys in which their family takes an active role but they can also entertain themselves if necessary.
They generally get along well with other pets and children. Some have said that they seem particularly in tune with their person’s feelings and try to offer comfort and companionship when their chosen humans are feeling blue. That’s when they turn on the purrs and sit beside them to offer their support.
Like the American Curl, the American Wirehair started as a spontaneous mutation in the domestic cat population; somewhere along the line, an unusual litter was produced with distinctive fur.
In 1966, Fluffy and Bootsie, two barn cats with no apparent unusual qualities from a small farm in upstate New York, parented a litter in which all five kittens had peculiar wiry hair. Sadly, only one kitten ultimately survived. This was particularly unfortunate since subsequent litters between Fluffy and Bootsie did not include any further wiry haired kittens. Whatever created that one unusual litter apparently was a one-time thing. However, the one surviving kitten— a red and white bicolor male—lived and prospered.
Joan O’Shea of nearby Vernon, New York heard about the surviving kitten from a friend, who told her the kitten looked just like her Rex cats. O’Shea drove up to look at the kitten and instantly fell in love with the long-legged, big-eared kitten with the twisted fur. She also realized that the kitten, named Adam, wasn’t a Rex at all but likely an entirely new breed. Adam eventually left his farm to become part of Joan’s family. There, Adam produced litters with neighborhood cats, some of the kittens having Adam’s wiry coat.
It was learned that the gene responsible for the wirehair coat was dominant; only one parent needed the gene to produce Wirehair offspring. To make sure the breed wasn’t related to one of the existing Rex breeds, samples of Adam’s hair were sent to noted British cat geneticists for analysis. The analyzed hair samples showed the coat was unique and not related to either the Cornish or Devon Rex.
Today, all American Wirehairs are descendants of Adam or one of his kittens, named Amy. This breed is still relatively rare, even though they are now recognized by the four largest North American cat associations.