The Fascinating History of the American Wirehair Cat

As cat lovers, we’re constantly fascinated by the diverse breeds and their unique personalities. One such breed that stands out is the American Wirehair. Often mistaken for a regular domestic cat, this breed boasts a distinct look and temperament that sets it apart. However, have you ever wondered about the origin of this fascinating feline? This article takes us on a journey to explore the captivating history of the American Wirehair cat breed in the US. From its unexpected discovery to its growing popularity today, let’s delve into all things curious and intriguing about this sassy cat.

The Origins of the American Wirehair Cat

The Origins Of The American Wirehair Cat
The story of the American Wirehair cat is a fascinating one that spans over several decades. It’s a tale of discovery, perseverance, and the evolution of a breed that is now beloved by many cat lovers worldwide. In this section, we’ll explore the origins of the American Wirehair cat, from its early history to the breeding and recognition. We’ll also take a look at its unique characteristics and the significance of its name. So, let’s dive in and discover the fascinating history of this unique feline breed. To explore more about the American wirehair origins, click here.

Early History

The early history of the American Wirehair Cat dates back to the mid-20th century in upstate New York. In 1966, a cat with a unique, wiry coat was discovered by a local couple. This cat was the result of a natural mutation that occurred in a litter of six kittens born to a barn cat. The kitten’s curly hair drew the attention of Joan O’Shea, a cat breeder who noticed its potential as a breed.

O’Shea worked to breed the American Wirehair Cat with unwanted kittens from local farms to expand the gene pool of this new breed. She partnered with other cat breeders to ensure that her cats would be recognized by cat fanciers associations. In 1978, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) granted full recognition of the American Wirehair Cat breed.

The early history of the American Wirehair Cat breed was heavily influenced by Joan O’Shea’s work in breeding, as well as her passion for the breed. She was known as the mother of the breed, and her work led to the creation of a unique and beloved breed of cat.

Year Event
1966 A cat with curly hair was discovered by a local couple in upstate New York
1966-1978 Joan O’Shea bred the American Wirehair Cat with unwanted kittens from local farms
1978 The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) granted full recognition of the American Wirehair Cat breed

O’Shea’s passion for this breed also led to its unique name. She saw the wire-like hair as a symbol of American strength and resilience, so she named the breed the American Wirehair Cat. Today, this breed remains a beloved and unique cat breed that has brought joy to cat lovers worldwide.

The early history of the American Wirehair Cat demonstrates the passion and dedication of breeders like Joan O’Shea who worked to recognize and establish new cat breeds. Through her work, the American Wirehair Cat continues to impact the world of cat breeding and remains a popular breed among cat lovers.

Discovery of the Mutation

The discovery of the mutation that created the American Wirehair Cat is an interesting tale of chance and opportunity. It all began in Verona, New York, in 1966, when a local farmer noticed a strange-looking kitten in his barn. Unlike his other cats, this kitten had wiry, coiled fur that felt harsh to the touch. Intrigued, the farmer contacted his neighbor Joan O’Shea, a cat lover and enthusiast.

O’Shea was immediately fascinated by the kitten’s unique appearance and contacted a geneticist who recommended breeding the kitten to her American Shorthair male to study the inheritance of the wirehair trait. The resulting litter proved that the wirehair trait is autosomal dominant, meaning that it only took one copy of the gene to inherit the trait.

Despite its unusual appearance, the wirehair trait did not emerge again until almost a decade later. A cat breeder named Brian Sterling contacted O’Shea in 1975 and asked if she had any American Wirehair cats. She sent him one of her cats, and soon after, Sterling established a breeding program to develop the American Wirehair as a recognized breed.

The American Wirehair was accepted into the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1978. Today, the breed is recognized by all major cat breeding organizations. If you want to know more about the ancestor breeds that contributed to the American Wirehair or the breeding background behind its creation, make sure to check out our articles on ancestor breeds and breeding background. Additionally, our article on genetic mutations may provide a deeper understanding of how mutations can lead to new breeds.

Breeding and Recognition

The breeding and recognition of the American Wirehair breed is both fascinating and unique. After the discovery of the mutation that led to the breed’s creation, breeders worked to establish the American Wirehair as a distinct breed.

Breeding: In the initial stages, the breeding process involved mating the mutated cat with different breeds such as Siamese, Maine Coons, and American Shorthairs. As a result, the American Wirehair’s genetic makeup includes the genes of these various breeds.

Recognition: The American Wirehair was first recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1967. Later on, other associations also recognized the breed like The International Cat Association (TICA), United Cat Federation (UCF), and American Cat Association (ACA).

The American Wirehair’s unique mutation and breeding background adds to its distinctiveness and popularity among cat enthusiasts. This breed came to existence as a result of the effort and ingenuity of American breeders, who recognized the potential of a unique natural mutation. Due to their hard work, dedication, and love for the breed, the American Wirehair is a recognized breed today.

For anyone interested to know more about the background of American Wirehair breed, you can dive into the article on American Wirehair Cat’s Breed Story by Joan O’Shea.

Characteristics of the American Wirehair Cat

Characteristics Of The American Wirehair Cat
The American Wirehair cat may not be the most common cat breed, but it certainly stands out for its unique and charming appearance. This breed is characterized by its curly fur, which adds to its overall appeal. However, the American Wirehair is much more than just its appearance. In this section, we will take a closer look at the distinctive traits of the American Wirehair cat, including its appearance, temperament, and health and care needs. So, whether you’re considering adopting an American Wirehair or are simply curious about this fascinating breed, keep reading to learn more.


The American Wirehair Cat is known for its unique, curly fur that makes it stand out from other breeds. This breed has a small to medium build with a muscular body. They have a well-rounded face and their eyes can be of any color. Here’s a closer look at their appearance:

Fur The fur of the American Wirehair is thick, dense, and tightly curled, giving it a distinct look and feel. The curls can range from loose to tight and can be seen all over their body, including their face, ears, and tail. Their fur is also resistant to tangling and matting.
Color American Wirehairs come in a wide variety of colors, including solid white, black, blue, cream, red, tortoiseshell, and tabby. The color of their eyes can also vary and can be hazel, green, blue, or gold.
Build The American Wirehair has a small to medium sized build, with a muscular body that is well-balanced. They have a broad chest and shoulders and strong, sturdy legs that allow them to jump and climb with ease.
Head Their head is well rounded with fullness in the cheeks, giving them an affectionate and friendly appearance. Their ears are also medium sized, rounded at the tips, and covered with short hair.

In terms of grooming, American Wirehairs don’t require much upkeep due to their resilient fur. Brushing occasionally with a gentle brush or comb is all that’s needed to prevent matting. They are also generally a healthy breed with few genetic health issues. However, it’s important to schedule regular vet visits to ensure their health and wellness.

If you found this information about the American Wirehair Cat’s appearance interesting, you are sure to enjoy reading about Joan O’Shea’s experience breeding and raising American Wirehairs, fascinating facts about the breed, their breeding background, or the significance of their name, explained in this article about the breed’s name significance.


The temperament of the American Wirehair is often described as friendly, affectionate, and playful. They make great pets for families with children, as they are known to be patient with kids. These cats are also quite intelligent and curious, and they enjoy exploring their surroundings. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering owning an American Wirehair.

Firstly, they can be quite talkative and vocal, so if you prefer quieter cats, this breed may not be for you. They are also energetic and require daily playtime and exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Below is a table outlining the typical temperament of the American Wirehair:

Temperament Trait Explanation
Playfulness Wirehairs are known for their love of playtime and can often be found chasing toys around the house.
Affectionate These cats enjoy spending time with their owners and often enjoy snuggling up on laps for some love and attention.
Intelligent American Wirehairs are naturally smart and curious cats, making them great companions for those who enjoy interacting with their pets.
Attention-seeking Wirehairs are known to crave attention and can become mischievous or destructive if left alone for long periods of time.
Talkative These cats are known for being vocal and will often meow or chirp to communicate with their owners.
Adaptable American Wirehairs can adjust well to different living situations and can make great pets for both apartment dwellers and those with larger homes.

The American Wirehair is a fun-loving and affectionate breed that requires a bit of attention and exercise to thrive. If you are considering bringing one of these cats into your home, be prepared for a playful and inquisitive companion. For more information about the history of the American Wirehair’s breeding, you can read our detailed article on the breeding and recognition of the American Wirehair.

Health and Care

Taking care of an American Wirehair cat requires some attention to their health. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Diet: American Wirehair cats require a well balanced diet that is rich in protein. It is important to choose a high-quality cat food brand that contains all the necessary nutrients and minerals.
  • Grooming: Due to their unique coat texture, these cats need regular grooming to keep their fur shiny and healthy. Brushing your American Wirehair cat weekly will help remove dead skin and prevent tangles.
  • Veterinary Checkups: Consistent check-ups with a veterinarian are important to prevent and treat any potential health issues. Be sure to keep up with vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and dental care.
  • Exercise: American Wirehair cats are known to be active and playful, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of opportunities for exercise and play. Having toys and scratching posts readily available can help keep them entertained and engaged.
  • Stress Management: Stress can impact the health of your American Wirehair cat, so it’s important to create a stress-free environment for them. This can include providing a comfortable and secure place to rest and avoid noisy or busy areas of the home.

By properly caring for your American Wirehair cat, you can ensure they live a healthy and happy life.

Throughout the years, cats have become a prominent figure in popular culture. Many felines, from the lovable Garfield to the mischievous Catwoman, have graced our screens and pages. However, there is one breed that often goes unnoticed – the American Wirehair cat. These unique cats have made appearances in various forms of media, proving that they are just as charismatic and charming as any other feline celebrity. Let’s take a closer look at how the American Wirehair has become a part of popular culture.

Television and Movies

The American Wirehair cat, with its distinctive coat and charming personality, has made appearances in popular culture throughout the years. In fact, there are several instances in television and movies where American Wirehair cats have stolen the show. Let’s take a closer look at some notable examples:

TV/Movie American Wirehair Cat’s Role
The Awakening (1980) American Wirehair cat named “Tom” is a beloved pet of the main character, played by Charlton Heston.
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996-2003) “Salem”, the sarcastic feline companion of Sabrina, was portrayed by a puppet in the first season, but was replaced with a live American Wirehair cat in later seasons.
Puss in Boots (2011) “Imelda” is a sassy American Wirehair cat who helps Puss in Boots on his adventures.
The Affair (2014-2019) American Wirehair cat named “Petra” is a recurring character and beloved pet of one of the main characters.

As we can see, American Wirehair cats have been featured in a variety of roles, from beloved pets to sassy sidekicks. Their unique appearance and charming personalities make them perfect candidates for on-screen stardom.

It’s also worth noting that American Wirehair cats have been used in advertising, such as a 2019 campaign for Temptations cat treats. In the commercial, an American Wirehair cat named “Joey” is seen demanding treats from his owner in a hilariously dramatic manner, showcasing the breed’s playful and bold nature.

American Wirehair cats have made their presence known in popular culture through their appearances in television, movies, and advertising. Their unique appearance, charming personalities, and playful nature make them a favorite amongst cat lovers and filmmakers alike.


In literature, the American Wirehair cat has made a few appearances in various forms of literature. Let’s take a closer look at some notable mentions of this unique breed in popular literature.

Book: The Cat Who Blew the Whistle by Lilian Jackson Braun
The American Wirehair cat makes an appearance in the book “The Cat Who Blew the Whistle” by Lilian Jackson Braun. The book is a cozy mystery novel that follows the adventures of a crime reporter and his two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum. In this story, a character named Polly Duncan owns an American Wirehair cat named Scrappy, who is described as a curious and energetic feline.

Book: Catscapades by Richard Surman
Another book that features American Wirehair cats is “Catscapades” by Richard Surman. The book is a collection of short stories and anecdotes about cats, and includes a chapter dedicated to the American Wirehair breed. In this chapter, Surman describes the breed’s unique coat and affectionate nature.

Book: The Fire Cat by Esther Averill
“The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill is a children’s book that tells the story of a cat named Pickles who wants to become a firehouse cat. While Pickles himself is not an American Wirehair, one of the cats he meets at the firehouse is described as having an “unusual curly coat”. It’s possible that this cat is meant to be an American Wirehair.

While the American Wirehair cat may not be the most common subject in literature, there are still a few notable mentions of this unique breed in various books and stories.

Internet Fame

The American Wirehair cat has gained a significant presence on the internet, thanks to their unique appearance and adorable personalities. Below are a few examples of how they have become famous online:

  • Instagram – American Wirehair cats have become quite popular on Instagram with numerous accounts dedicated solely to posting pictures of these beautiful felines. Some of the most popular accounts include @america_wqh, @awhcatlovers, and @american_wirehairs.
  • Reddit – The American Wirehair has a dedicated subreddit, r/AmericanWirehair, which has over 2,000 members and features cute pictures and discussions about the breed.
  • Videos – Videos featuring American Wirehair cats have gone viral on various social media platforms. One of the most popular videos features an American Wirehair cat named Muta, who is seen happily playing with a toy on a bed. The video has over 4 million views on YouTube.
  • Cat Shows – Some American Wirehair cats have become internet famous by winning prestigious cat shows and competitions. For example, an American Wirehair named Tobermory won “Best Cat in Show” at the 2013 National Capital Cat Show.

The internet has provided a great platform for American Wirehair cats to gain fame and recognition. With their unique appearance and charming personalities, it’s no surprise that they have become fan favorites among cat lovers all over the world.


In conclusion, the American Wirehair cat stands out among other feline breeds due to its unique wire-like fur texture and friendly personality. It has an interesting history that dates back to the mid-20th century when a mutation occurred in a barn cat on a farm in upstate New York. Today, it is recognized as a unique and lovable breed by associations such as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA).

When it comes to appearance, the American Wirehair’s fur is its most distinguishing feature. Each hair is crimped and coiled, giving the cat a rough and scruffy appearance. This breed is also known for its stocky build and round face.

Temperament-wise, American Wirehairs are generally friendly and affectionate towards their owners. They enjoy interactive play and cuddles, making them an ideal pet for families with children. They are also known for their intelligence and adaptability, making them easy to train and socialize.

In terms of health and grooming, American Wirehairs do not require excessive maintenance. Their wiry hair does not mat easily, and they only need occasional brushing to remove loose fur. They are generally healthy cats, and with proper care such as regular vet checkups and a good diet, they can live long and happy lives.

Overall, the American Wirehair cat is a unique and lovable breed that has earned its place in popular culture through various media such as TV shows, movies, and internet memes. From its humble origins on a farm in upstate New York, this breed has grown to become one of the most recognizable and beloved cat breeds in the world. If you’re looking for a unique and friendly feline companion, the American Wirehair might just be the perfect fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes the American Wirehair cat unique?

The American Wirehair cat is unique due to its distinct wiry fur, which is the result of a genetic mutation.

How did the American Wirehair cat become recognized as an official breed?

The American Wirehair breed was recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1967 after a successful breeding program.

How does one care for an American Wirehair cat?

American Wirehair cats have low grooming needs and require weekly brushing to maintain their fur. They also need regular vet checkups and a balanced diet.

Are American Wirehair cats prone to any health issues?

As a breed, American Wirehair cats are generally healthy and not prone to any major health issues. However, like all cats, they may develop problems such as dental disease over time.

Can American Wirehair cats coexist with other pets?

American Wirehair cats tend to be social, and can coexist well with other pets if introduced properly. However, it’s important to monitor their interactions in the beginning.

What kind of personality do American Wirehair cats have?

American Wirehair cats are generally affectionate, playful, and intelligent. They also tend to be good with children and other pets.

What is the average lifespan of an American Wirehair cat?

The average lifespan of an American Wirehair cat is around 12-16 years with proper care and regular veterinary checkups.

What is the history of the American Wirehair cat?

The American Wirehair breed originated in upstate New York in the 1960s, and is the result of a genetic mutation that occurred in a litter of barn cats.

What are the physical characteristics of the American Wirehair cat?

Aside from their uniquely wiry fur, American Wirehair cats tend to have muscular bodies, round faces, and medium-sized ears.

Can American Wirehair cats be trained?

American Wirehair cats can be trained using positive reinforcement techniques, and can learn tricks such as fetch or using a litter box.