American Wirehair

Felis catus

Last updated: October 4, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Boyloso/

American Wirehairs often play fetch with their owners


American Wirehair Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Felis catus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

American Wirehair Locations

American Wirehair Facts

Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Social
Fun Fact
American Wirehairs often play fetch with their owners
Most Distinctive Feature
Their coarse and crimpy hair
Distinctive Feature
Rounded ears with crimped fur on the inside

American Wirehair Physical Characteristics

  • Grey
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Cream
  • Silver
Skin Type
Top Speed
30 mph
14 to 18 years
8 to 15 pounds
9 to 11 inches

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American Wirehairs are defined by their coarse, crimped fur, which people often compare to steel wool. It’s not hard to mistake them for American shorthairs as they are similar in looks and behavior, which is why they are often cross-bred. However, American wirehairs are very hard to find, and the Cat Fancier Association named them the rarest breed of cat in the 2017 round-up of 41 registered.

American Wirehair Facts

  • Common name – American Wirehair
  • Other names – None
  • Lifespan – 14 to 18 years
  • Weight – 8 to 15 pounds
  • Hair Color – White, black, red/orange, blue/gray, lavender, silver, cream, beige, tan
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Kitten Cost – $800 to $1,200

American Wirehair Personality

While their hair is wild and rough, their personality is the exact opposite. American wirehairs enjoy lots of attention and affection and have a playful nature; however, they are not too needy. In addition, they are loyal to a fault, making them great family pets.

Their personalities are very similar to the American Shorthair, which is mild-mannered and friendly. Although they are great family cats and like attention, they are also fiercely independent and not demanding.

An interesting fact about the American Wirehair is that they often play fetch and are more active than the American Shorthair. They do well with interactive toys and will keep the family entertained for hours. But, they also enjoy independent play and often go off on their own.

Some owners even say their American Wirehairs are amazing support animals and will comfort them when they feel down.

American Wirehair Size and Weight

American Wirehairs are medium to large-sized cats, usually 8 to 10 inches high and 11 to 13 inches long, with muscular bodies generally weighing between 8 to 15 pounds. The males weigh between 12 to 15 pounds, while the females weigh around 8 to 12 pounds. They are very similar in stature to the following cats:

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Articles Mentioning American Wirehair

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American Wirehair Price

While they are fairly well-known, American Wirehairs are pretty rare, so when purchasing one from a breeder, you can expect to pay between $800 to $1,200. However, you can find them in shelters, where they are much more affordable. Prices range from $75 to $150.

How to Find a Reputable Breeder

Many breeders don’t abide by the correct breeding standards, so if you want a healthy cat, you must select a reputable breeder. Here are some sites that will guide you in the right direction:

When selecting a breeder, ask the right questions to ensure they adhere to the correct code of ethics by not selling to pet stores. In addition, they must provide you with all the necessary health certifications that screen for genetic health issues.

Also, ensure that the kittens are raised in the home and not isolated, as this can make them skittish or frightened of humans.

Anyone can set up a website these days, so how do you know who is reputable and who is not? Below are some trigger warnings to look out for:

  • Kittens always available
  • Multiple litters
  • Being able to choose any kitten
  • Being able to make a payment online using a credit card

Unfortunately, American Wirehairs are rare, so most breeders will put you on a waiting list. If searching for a certain color, you will likely wait six to twelve months before being able to bring your new kitty home.

In addition, you have to wait until the kitten is between 12 to 16 weeks before they are released into your care. Reputable breeders won’t release kittens to new homes until they’re between 12 and 16 weeks of age.

Adopting an American Wirehair

Finding an American Wirehair in a shelter might be tricky because they are so rare. However, there are often listings on Petfinder, or you can ask breeders if they know of a retired American Wirehair that needs a home.

Cost of Owning an American Wirehair

It costs around $850 per annum to own an American Wirehair; here is a breakdown of what this price includes:

  • $200 on food and treats
  • $200 Grooming and Boarding
  • $250 for vet care
  • $200 for miscellaneous

American Wirehair Kittens

These kittens are easily trainable, easy to groom, and very friendly. American Wirehair kittens get along well with other pets and are friendly towards strangers. These kittens are independent; however, they also like affection.

In addition, they have a high prey drive, which means they will leave you little dead “presents” around the house.

One thing to be aware of is American Wirehairs are prone to gaining weight, so you must be very strict with their diets. But, nevertheless, they are an excellent choice for first-time pet owners and make great lap cats as they tolerate being picked up.

American Wirehair Lifespan

American Wirehairs can live up to 14 to 18 years old with the proper diet and exercise regimen. However, they are prone to obesity, which can lead to diabetes, arthritis, and other illnesses.

So, when owning an American Wirehair, they must be kept on a strict diet with high-quality and age-appropriate food.

Health Issues

The American Wirehair is generally a healthy cat. However, they are susceptible to heart diseases like Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

This causes their heart muscles to thicken, reducing the heart’s ability to pump blood. If a breeder claims their kittens are HCM-free, do not trust them. No one can ever guarantee that their cats won’t develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

American Wirehair Breed vs. Mixed

American Wirehairs have some unique features which set them apart from other breeds. Firstly, their coats are dense and kinky. While most cats have silky soft hair, American Wirehair’s coats have a rough texture and crimped appearance.

In addition, their whiskers are crimped or curly. It almost looks like someone electrocuted them, similar to a cartoon that stuck their finger into a wall socket.

Secondly, their ears are a dead giveaway. They have rounded medium-sized ears with kinky hair inside. The hair inside the ears will match the fur on their bodies.

Thirdly, they have big round eyes. American Wirehair’s eyes come in various colors, they are round, and the edges turn upwards.

Lastly, their back paws only have four toes, while their front paws have five.  There are specific colors and patterns that are not attributed to purebred American Wirehairs, which include:

Types of American Wirehair Cats and Colors

Cat lovers are spoiled for choice when it comes to American Wirehair’s color and patterns, which include:

  • Blue – Solid blue with a leather nose and blue paw pads
  • Black – Solid coal-black free from even a tinge of other colors with a black nose and brownish-black paw pads
  • Red – Completely red without any markings or different shading with a leather nose and red paw pads.
  • Chinchilla Silver – The undercoat is snow white, while the tips of the fur on their backs, head, sides, and tails are black, which gives it a silver appearance. They have red leathery noses, and they have black paw pads.
  • Cream – Solid cream without any markings or shading with a leather nose and pink paw pads.
  • Red Chinchilla – White undercoat with red tips on the back, head, sides, and tails. They have a leather nose and rose paw pads.
  • Shaded Silver – They have a white undercoat with black tips on their backs, heads, sides, and tails. It’s much darker than the Chinchilla Silver and has a red leather nose and black paw pads.
  • Red Shaded – Very similar to the Red Chinchilla; they have a white undercoat with red tipping. However, the red shaded is a more intense red with a leather nose and rose paw pads.
  • Blue Smoke – They have a white undercoat with blue tips. The white is only visible when they move. Their nose is leathery with blue paw pads.
  • Black Smoke – A white undercoat with black tipping. The white is only visible when the cat is in motion. Their noses and paw pads are black.
  • Red Smoke – Similar to the blue and black smoke, this cat has a white undercoat with red tips. The white is only visible when the cat moves, and their nose and paw pads are rose in color.
American wirehair indoors

American wirehair cats are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.


American Wirehair Patterns

Just like their array of colors, American Wirehairs come in various patterns, which include:

  • Mackerel Tabby Pattern – Narrow squiggles running down the cat’s body that sometimes curve or break up into spots or other patterns. They are also known to have a black “M” on their foreheads ( a trait they share with cheetahs.) In addition, they have black rings encircling their legs. Two lines run parallel on each side of their spine, and their tails have rings with a solid line running through them.
  • Spotted Tabby Pattern – As the name suggests, the fur is spotted. The spots vary in size and are mostly round and evenly distributed. A solid line runs down the spine to the tip of the tail. In addition, there are rings on the tail and legs.
  • Classic Tabby Pattern – They have thick markings across the body with barred legs and tails. The upper chest is full of unbroken necklaces, and there’s an “M” on their forehead. Three solid lines run from the head down the spine to the tail.
  • Ticked Tabby Pattern – There are several stripes on the head, neck, legs, and tail, but other than that, there are no apparent markings on the body. There is always one distinct necklace on the chest.
  • Bi-Color – Several color combinations fall into this category: white with patches of blue, white with patches of red, white with patches of black, and white with patches of cream.

Cat Breeds Similar to the American Wirehair

Several cats are similar to the American Wirehair. This could be in size, weight, temperament, or social traits.

The American Shorthair

The American shorthair traveled across the ocean from England on the Mayflower. They were regarded as great mice catchers, which is why they were on the ships. They are often called the first cats, as they were the first domestic cats to set foot on US soil.

  • Common name – American Shorthair
  • Other names – Domestic Shorthair
  • Lifespan – 15 to 20 years
  • Weight – 10 to 15 pounds
  • Hair Color – White, black, red, blue, gray, cream, brown
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Kitten Cost – $500 to $800


A Bengal cat is a mix between Domestic shorthairs and Asian leopard cats. They are very clever and extremely active, and of course, they look like tiny leopards. Bengals are perfect family pets because of their gentle and affectionate nature.

  • Common name – Bengal Cat
  • Other names – None
  • Lifespan – 9 to 15 years
  • Weight – 8 to 15 pounds
  • Hair Color – Lavender, silver, chocolate, brown, sable
  • Hypoallergenic – Yes
  • Kitten Cost – $1,500 to $3,000


A Chartreux is a rare breed from France known for its blue or gray coat. They are very calm a friendly cats that get along well with people and other pets.

  • Common name – Chartreux
  • Other names – None
  • Lifespan – 12 to 15 years
  • Weight – 6 to 12 pounds
  • Hair Color – Blue or gray
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Kitten Cost – $1,000 to $1,500


Somali cats are great, especially for young families, as they have a lot of energy and need attention. They are playful and curious and highly intelligent; they even learn how to do tricks. There will never be a dull moment when a Somali is around.

  • Common name – Somali
  • Other names – None
  • Lifespan – 11 to 16 years
  • Weight – 6 to 10 pounds
  • Hair Color – Fawn, Red, Blue, Gray, Cinnamon
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Kitten Cost – $1,000 to $1,500

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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