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The American Wirehair is a breed of domestic cat originating in upstate New York. As of 2003, though the breed is well-known, it is ranked as the most rare of the 41 Cat Fanciers' Association breeds, with only 22 registered, down from 39 in 2002.
The American Wirehair is a spontaneous mutation of the American Shorthair. It first occurred as a random mutation among a litter of five born to a pair of barn cats in 1966 in Vernon, in upstate New York. This single red-and-white male had wiry fur. The owner of the cats called a local breeder of Rex cats, Mrs. Joan O'Shea, to take a look at the kitten. She bought the kitten for $50, along with one of his normal-coated female littermates, to start a breeding program. The wirehaired male was named Adam, and the female Tip-Top.
Breeding between the two produced wirehaired kittens, many of which were sold off to other interested breeders. As the population grew, cats were exported to Canada, and Germany where they are especially popular. The breed did well, and in 1967 it was recognized by the CFA, and in 1978, it was accepted for championship competition. American Wirehairs have yet to make an appearance in Britain and Australia, among other countries.
American Wirehairs are similar to American Shorthairs, with the exception of a springy, wiry coat, including ear fur, and whiskers. This coat is similar to the wire coats of some dog breeds, such as terriers. Their fur requires little grooming, although lighter cats may require sunblock. Wirehairs are of a moderate, sturdy build, with round heads, high cheekbones, and a pronounced muzzle. Females are generally smaller than males. American Wirehairs display the full spectrum of possible cat coat colors, although Himalayan, Chocolate and Lilac are not accepted for competition. The Wirehair coat trait is dominant, so any breeding between a Wirehair and another cat can produce wired kittens. Wirehairs have golden eyes, except for some white ones that have blue or amber eyes.
The Wirehair has an even, balanced temperament which is essentially identical to that of its American Shorthair relative. Wirehairs are equally content to play or fall asleep in their owners' laps. They have been described as cute and somewhat humorous. They are gentle and quiet, but also playful and active. They have quiet voices. American Wirehairs generally prefer to stay indoors.