Thursday, May 5, 2011
Breed of the Day: American Wirehair
The first American Wirehair was found in a litter of 6 kittens born on Council Rock Farm in Verona, New York. The kitten was a red and white male with a sparse, wiry coat; every hair, including his whiskers, was crimped and springy. His parents, Bootsie and Fluffy, were normal coated Domestic Shorthairs who lived on the farm owned by Nathan Mosher. Local cat breeder Joan O'Shea saw the kitten and, recognizing him as unique, was able to acquire him. He was then named Adam and bred to a female belonging to O'Shea's neighbor that had previously lived on Mosher's farm, and produced more kittens with wiry coats. A second breeding to an unrelated female also produced wirehaired kittens, thereby establishing it as a dominant gene.
O'Shea sent hair samples for analysis to noted British cat geneticists A.G. Searle and Roy Robinson. Robinson reported to her that the samples of Adam's hair showed that the coat was unique and different from the Cornish or Devon Rexes. All three hair types (Down, awn and guard) were twisted and the awn hairs were also hooked at the tip. The cat was closest in physical type to the American Shorthair, and this was the breed used to develop the American Wirehair. The only difference between the two breeds is the hair coat.
American Wirehairs are good-natured, easy-going cats, and they are known to be very tolerant of children. They are calm but can also be playful into old age. Female cats tend to be busier than males; with the males being more laid-back. In general they are intelligent cats and quite interested in everything around them. Many American Wirehairs retain their hunting instincts with any insects or mice that should have the misfortune of entering your house. They also like to watch birds and other outdoor activities from the windowsill. They enjoy the company of their people but retain their independence. Many are lap cats, while others prefer to be near you than on you.
The American Wirehair is a medium sized cat with no exaggerated features. Females are smaller than males, and the balance of the cat being of the utmost importance. American Wirehairs do not fully mature until they are around three or four years of age, where they look their best. The wiry coat is much like steel wool and defines the American Wirehair as distinct from all other cat breeds. It comes in all colors and patterns but the wiryness itself has several degrees varying from spiked to curly, with the individual hairs being crimped, hooked or bent. The ideal coat, including the whiskers, is dense, coarse and crimped over the whole body. Some coats are completely wired but very hard and sparse making it break easily, but some coats are relatively soft to the touch but springs back into place when stroked. Some American Wirehairs have sensitive skin that can be susceptible to outside influences resulting in allergies. To reduce any potential problems, the skin and coat should be kept clean with regular bathing to remove loose dead hairs that could cause some irritation. The coat can be a little greasy from the oil secreted by the skin which can also be cleared up with regular baths.