American Wirehair cat
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American Wirehair Cat Breed Profile

Est. read time: 8 min.

While recognizable by many cat lovers, the American Wirehair is a rare breed to come across. They have gorgeous wiry coats, large eyes, and prominent cheekbones. Though highly desirable due to their looks and their lovable personalities, bringing one into your home might prove a bit challenging.

This breed is remarkably pleasant and playful, fitting well in all kinds of environments. They deeply bond with their families and are very loyal companions. American Wirehairs are calm cats overall, so a laid-back family would find that they fit right in with them.

To learn more about the American Wirehair breed, continue reading!

American Wirehair cat a glance
Personality Playful, adaptable, laid-back
Life expectancy 14-20 years
Weight 7-12 lbs
Coat & colors Medium-short, wiry; various colors & patterns
Energy level Medium
Affection level High
Friendliness Medium
Shedding level Low
Required grooming Low

Overview of the American Wirehair cat

American Wirehair cat outside

The American Wirehair is a sturdy cat that is considered small to medium in size. They have a round head, medium-sized ears, and an adorable button nose. Their large eyes are always on their humans, wanting to know how they can be involved. 

They resemble the American Shorthair and share many of the same traits. However, the one particular distinction between them is the Wirehair’s rough, wiry coat. 


The American Wirehair is smaller than their appearance might suggest due to their dense coats. Generally, they weigh 7 to 12 pounds, with males weighing more than females. With proper nutrition and some interactive play, they tend to keep themselves at a healthy weight on their own.


American Wirehairs are proportionate in size, and due to their medium frame, they aren’t particularly long either. They can reach up to 15 inches in length, with an even distribution of their tails and bodies. 


The American Wirehair’s coat is what sets this breed apart from others. Typically, their coats will be medium in length, and they come in a variety of different colors. Though you might assume that this coat is genetically related to the Rex cat’s coat—think Devon Rex or Selkirk Rex—it’s actually its own mutation!

The American Wirehair’s coat is dense, rough, and springy. The coarseness will vary depending on each particular cat’s parents, and the texture can range from semi-smooth to quite rough. Though breed standards say, “the rougher the coat, the better,” any American Wirehair you come across is a beautiful sight. 

Life expectancy

American Wirehairs can live a very long life when they are properly cared for. Their average lifespan ranges from 14 to 20 years. When you take your cat to the veterinarian for regular checkups and monitor their health, you give them the best chance at a very content life. 

History of the American Wirehair

black American Wirehair cat outside

The American Wirehair originated in upstate New York in the 1960s. A Domestic Shorthair barn cat gave birth to a litter where one orange and white kitten was born with a wiry coat. When this kitten was taken to a nearby reputable breeder, she was struck by the wiry coat as well. She then attempted to breed the kitten with her American Shorthairs.

She realized that the wiry hair gene was a rare and spontaneous mutation but a dominant one. Half of the kittens that are born to a wiry-haired cat will be born with wiry coats as well. Yet, this mutation has not been reported in any other country in the world, so it’s very rare.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) accepted the American Wirehair breed in 1967. It’s unusual to come across the American Wirehair, but they have made their way throughout the United States and are loved by many. 

American Wirehair cat characteristics

Everything about the American Wirehair cat is proportionate. Their head fits perfectly with their round bodies, with shoulders and hips that are the same width. They are strong cats, but they don’t necessarily show that off. 

They have large bright eyes that stand out on their small faces. Usually, the color of their eyes will be stark against their coat color. Their tails are rounded at the end and proportionate to the rest of their bodies. 

An American Wirehair's legs are firm and muscular, adding to their compact frames.

A wiry coat

Wiry coats like the American Wirehairs’ are not common. In fact, there aren’t many other animals that have this rough and wiry coat. It is often compared to sheeps’ wool due to its roughness, but it can vary from cat to cat. 

This coat is visibly rougher than other coats, which makes it easy to spot. Even to the touch, it’s quite unique and somehow comforting. It’s not rough enough to want to avoid petting, but if your cat were to rub their coat all over your face, you might feel a bit of irritation from it.

Is the American Wirehair hypoallergenic?

Some say that the American Wirehair is considered to be hypoallergenic; unfortunately, this isn’t true.

However, sometimes people with allergies to cats say that the American Wirehair irritates their skin or noses less often than other breeds. This might be due to how the wiry texture captures loose hairs, making these cats less likely to shed

Personality and behavior

American Wirehair cat

Don’t let their rough hair fool you! The American Wirehair is known for their affectionate personalities and devotion to their families. This makes them quite the companion, as they fit right in with their humans and find their place in the home. 

This breed is moderately active but won’t be bouncing off the walls and wreaking havoc all day. They enjoy cuddles, but they don’t demand them from you and won’t always seek them out. They are independent by nature, and the more comfortable they get in their space, the more likely you’ll see this side of them come out. 

American Wirehairs like to explore and discover new things to get into, but they will always find their way back to check in on you. These cats tend to do well with other cats and dogs in the household, but make sure to introduce them properly.

Caring for an American Wirehair cat

Despite the rough appearance of their wiry coat, taking care of this breed is not difficult. American Wirehairs are generally healthy—especially with proper nutrition and exercise. 

You’ll want to ensure their litter box area is clean and up to their standards. By investing in a self-cleaning litter box, you don’t have to worry about scooping every day. Your cat can comfortably use the bathroom with the reassurance that it will be clean each time.

brown tabby American Wirehair cat


You will want to remove any loose hairs from an American Wirehair’s coat once a week or so. This will keep any shedding down to a minimum. Don’t brush too roughly, as this might be uncomfortable for your cat. Additionally, rough brushing could break their hairs off. 

If you notice your American Wirehair’s skin becoming irritated, try to introduce regular bathing into the routine. This will remove dead hooked hairs that might be causing skin sensitivities. 

This cat’s ears can acquire wax buildup more frequently than other breeds due to the coarse hair growing inside of them. Cleaning their ears from time to time can limit the risk of infection.

You should also keep up on monthly nail trimmings dental cleanings to prevent periodontal disease. 


The American Wirehair is a very intelligent breed that likes to stay active. If you are the type to leave for long stretches of time, this might not be the cat for you. They like when their humans interact with them and get involved in playtime.

American Wirehairs can also entertain themselves with toys left around the house, scratching posts, and climbing trees. While they like to play with their humans, their independent streak will sometimes arise when they go off to find their own activities. 

Health-related issues

American Wirehairs are regarded as one of the healthier cat breeds. They aren’t prone to any breed-specific genetic diseases. With proper care throughout their years, they can live long and happy lives. 

Like other cats, they might develop medical conditions if they become overweight or obese. 

Loving an American Wirehair

If you are lucky enough to come across an American Wirehair that’s up for adoption, we don’t blame you for jumping on the opportunity! American Wirehairs are one of the best cats that you could bring into your home. They will get along with everyone and have a great time doing so. 

Be prepared for a new best friend and daily entertainment. The American Wirehair will constantly surprise and delight you.


Photo credit: © Heikki Siltala / Wikipedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0