Origin: United States
Colour: Any colour
American Wirehairs are quiet, loving and easy to care for. They are also friendly with people.
Domestic Breed: Appeared in 1966 on a farm near New York.
Appearance: The fur of this breed in unique among cats. Each hair is bent or hooked, giving the animal a harsh, dense, springy coat. Apart from this special feature, the cat is similar to the American Shorthair, with its typically strong, muscular body. In some individuals the whiskers are curly - a similarity to the Rex Cats.
History: This breed began as a single, spontaneous mutation in a litter born to a pair of farm cats called Bootsie and Fluffy, in a barn near Vernon (not Verona, Vermont or Utica, as quoted by various authors) in upper New York State. Among the litter of six, a red and white male kitten was seen to have a strange, wiry coat, unlike its litter-mates. The farmer contacted Mrs William O'Shea, a cat breeder living nearby, who kept Rex cats and was familiar with strange feline hair patterns. She immediately recognized the importance of this kitten and acquired it (for $50) to start a serious breeding programme. With a view to in-breeding, she also purchased a normal-coated female from the same litter. The male was called Adam and the female Tip-Toe. (Full names: Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi and Tip-Toe of Hi-Fi.)
Subsequent breeding successfully produced a number of Wirehair kittens. Some of these were acquired by other breeders in the United States and word soon began to spread about this remarkable new type of feline. Before long kittens were being exported to breeders in Canada and Germany. As early as 1969, a true-breeding American Wirehair had been developed and the breed was secure for the future. It was officially recognized by the CFA in 1977, and by the 1990s it had achieved championship status throughout the United States. It has also appeared at cat shows in Canada, Germany and Japan. Worldwide, however, it remains a rare breed.
Whereas the Rex gene proved to be a recessive, the Wirehair gene is dominant to normal coat. It has been given the gene symbol Wh.
Unlike the Cornish Rex gene, the Wirehair gene has not been preserved from more than one source, and this means that every American Wirehair Cat in existence today can be traced directly back to the aptly named Adam. There were rumours of harsh-haired cats being seen on derelict bomb sites in London at the end of World War II, but these cats were never used for breeding purposes. Two of them were apparently exhibited at the National Cat Club Show in England, some years before Adam's discovery in America, but they were treated as a mere curiosity and not developed.
Personality: Terms that have been used to describe this new breed include: friendly, intelligent, adaptable, sweet-tempered, affectionate. There is some contradiction - one authority describes this cat as quiet and reserved, while others says it is playful, zany, independent and inquisitive. Because its hair stands on end, it has been described as 'the punk of the feline world'. It has also been said to 'rule its home and other cats with an iron paw.'
Colour forms: Almost any colour is acceptable in this breed. The Cat Fanciers Association in America lists the following colours:
CFA: White; Black; Blue; Red; Cream; Chinchilla Silver; Shaded Silver; Shell Cameo (Red Chinchilla); Shaded Cameo (= Red Shaded);Black Smoke; Blue Smoke; Cameo Smoke (= Red Smoke); Classic Tabby Pattern; Mackerel Tabby Pattern; Silver Tabby; Red Tabby; Brown Tabby; Blue Tabby; Cream Tabby; Cameo Tabby; Tortie; Calico; Dilute Calico; Blue-Cream; Bi-colour.
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