are a medium-sized short-haired cat breed
. They are the only naturally spotted breed of domesticated cat. The spots on an Egyptian Mau are not only just on the coat
; a shaved Mau does, in fact, have spots on its skin. The spotted Mau is an ancient breed from natural stock; its look has not changed significantly as is evidenced by artwork over 3000 years old. Unlike other spotted cats such as the Ocicat
or Bengal cat
, the Egyptian Mau is a natural breed. Other breeds are created from domestic breed outcross or, in the case of the Bengal cat
, domestic outcrosses with wildcats. The Mau is significantly smaller than these other breeds.
The breed conformation is described by The Cornell Book of Cats
- a balance between the compactness of a Burmese and the slim elegance of a Siamese. Its medium-length body is muscular, with the hind legs longer than the front, giving the Mau the appearance of standing on tiptoes when upright.
The Egyptian Mau is the fastest of the domestic cats, with its longer hind legs, and unique flap of skin extending from the flank to the back knee, provides for greater agility and speed. Maus have been clocked running over 30 mph (48 kph).
Maus often possess very musical voices. They are known to chirp, chortle and emit other distinctly unusual vocalizations when stimulated. Another behavior, quite common in happy Maus, has been described as "wiggle-tail." The cat, male or female, moves its back legs up and down, and appears to be marking territory, also known as spraying, but it is not actually releasing urine. Even veteran Mau owners are known to check after a joyous Mau does this little dance.
The exact origin of the Egyptian Mau is not recorded and therefore cannot be known for certain. The Egyptian Mau is often said to be descended from African wild cats, and a descendant of the cats seen in wall paintings of Ancient Egypt
The modern Mau is said to have originated in 1953, Italy, when exiled Russian Princess Natalie Troubetskoy met the cat of the Egyptian Ambassador to Italy. She convinced him to obtain several cats from Egypt for her, and she began to breed them. From her the Mau has been described as having a "troubled" look, with their round eyes and open expression. The Mau achieved championship status in some organisations in 1968. There were attempts by British breeders to create Maus from cross-breeds of Abyssinians, Siamese and tabbies, however these did not resemble the true Maus. This "recipe" later became the basis for the Ocicat.
Egyptian Maus will either have a 'scarab beetle' or 'M' marking on their foreheads, those with the latter tend to be from the United States.
Egyptian Maus are thought to be one of the progenitor breeds of the modern domestic cat. They have anatomical, metabolic and behavioral differences from other cat breeds which could be considered as evidence of antiquity or at least uniqueness from other cat breeds. Maus are more temperature sensitive than most breeds - they are fond of very warm temperatures. They are more sensitive to medicines and anesthesia. Maus allegedly have an unusually long gestational period, about 73 days. The maximum normal period for cats is 65-67 days, although Siamese may take a day or two longer.
Albeit largely anecdotal, the Egyptian Mau is well known for intelligence and close bonding with responsible and loving owners. Such owners typically report their Maus eagerly greet them at the door at the end of a long day at work. Usually requiring more effort than other breeds, Maus can be "lap cats," but their alert nature makes the task difficult, yet far more rewarding once accomplished. Although ill-advised by most veterinarians and animal-care givers, the Egyptian Mau loves an outdoor life. Their speed, coupled with their innate intelligence, allows them to avoid almost all dangers if carefully introduced to an outdoor world very early in life. Unusually averse to loud noises and fast-moving objects, Maus are rarely "road kills," and instead are far too busy wiping out the mouse and rat population in the back yards and farms of your neighbors. Many responsible farmers report that a few Mau crossbreeds have saved entire crops from rodents. The typical Mau is not social with strangers of any species, other cats in particular. Maus will fight trespassing cats with astonishing ferocity and uncannily disappear from strange and loud humans. Accordingly, the Egyptian Mau is not a good choice for an absentee condo owner who, when home, brings in strange pets and humans.
Purebred Egyptian Maus are a relatively rare breed to encounter outside Egypt As of 2007, fewer than 200 kittens are registered with the GCCF
As of 2006, a total of 6741 Maus are registered with the CFA
Maus come in five colors. From most to least common these colors are: silver, bronze, smoke, black and blue/pewter.
Black and pewter Maus cannot be shown, but may be used in breeding. All Maus must have green eyes, but an amber cast is acceptable in kittens and young adults up to eighteen months old.
Egyptian Mau Rescue Organization
EMRO is an adoption agency both locally and internationally for tame Maus. Supported solely by private and corporate donors, EMRO aims to increase education, in Egypt and around the world, about cats.
- Siegal, M., Cornell Feline Health Center (Editors) (1989) The Cornell Book of Cats: A Comprehensive Medical Reference for Every Cat and Kitten. Villard Books. ISBN 0-394-56787-0