The graceful, athletic and truly stunning Egyptian Mau is a domestic cat with a difference. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them stand out from the crowd but it is their personality that will win you over. There is no mistaking the Egyptian Mau – the M-shape on their forehead and marks on their cheeks are unique. Those huge gooseberry-green eyes are mesmerizing.
This is a medium-size cat with a neat but muscular build – they are the athletes of the cat world and can reach speeds of up to 30 mph. They can also leap onto high surfaces and like to lounge on top of bookcases looking down on the world. If you want a kitty that you can interact with, this is the perfect breed for you. They are highly intelligent and easy to train, and can even learn to play fetch just like a dog! Read on and find out everything else there is to love about this ancient breed.
History of the Egyptian Mau
It’s no secret that the Egyptians worshipped cats and held their feline friends in very high regard. In the famous Egyptian scroll, the “Book of the Dead,” the God of the Sun appears as a cat with a spotted tabby coat. In Egyptian art, he slays evil serpents. Part of the appeal is thought to be the scarab marking that occurs on the forehead of tabby cats.
As their name implies, the Egyptian Mau breed has its origins in ancient Egypt. There is genetic and archaeological evidence to support this. They probably descended from small African wild cats who also have the distinctive spotted coat. As such, they are one of the oldest breeds of cat in existence today. An Egyptian drawing dated to 1400 B.C. depicts a cat that looks just like the Egyptian Mau finding a duck for a hunter. This breed worked for a living and could obviously be trained to be useful to their masters.
During the 1900s, the cat breeders in France, Italy, and Switzerland were enthusiastic about developing the breed but World War I and II soon put a stop to that. Sadly, there were very few left alive at the end of the wars and the breed could have disappeared for good.
Here in the US, a few were imported during the 1950s by a Russian princess called Nathalie Troubetskoy. The kitten’s ancestors were from Italy and Russia and even the Syrian ambassador got involved! The original kitty was called Baba and she was imported with two of her kittens. Troubetskoy would go on to breed these cats using the cattery name Fatima.
It didn’t take long for them to be spotted by other breeders who appreciated their unique appearance. However, as there was such a limited gene pool, cross-breeding was a serious problem. It was not easy to achieve any particular appearance or temperament. The problem has now been solved thanks to more imports including some brought to the US from Egypt by Cathie Rowan, a well-known cat breeder.
The Egyptian Mau is a formerly recognized breed. It was acknowledged by the Cat Fanciers’ Federation in 1968/69 and given Championship status in 1977. They were recognized by the International Cat Association in 1979.
Quick Facts About the Egyptian Mau
- They are distinguished athletes
If this breed were human, they would all be track stars. An Egyptian Mau can reach 30 miles per hour which is very impressive given their small stature. They are also excellent jumpers and can spring a huge distance into the air. If your Mau goes missing, start searching at the top of bookcases and on kitchen cupboards. They will also love to perch on your shoulders.
- They are an ancient breed
Mau is the Egyptian word for cat and this breed is thought to be the oldest cat breed alive today. If you have an Egyptian Mau living with you, you can be sure that their ancestors were part of Egyptian life and that they featured in Egyptian religion and mythology. You will find Egyptian Mau depicted in Egyptian sculptures and paintings dating back many thousands of years.
- They have a unique spotted coat
The coat of the Egyptian Mau is both glorious and unique. It is a short coat but it is silky smooth and they are the only domesticated cat that has natural spots. The spotted pattern has not been achieved by human intervention – it is completely natural.
- They like water!
This comes as a surprise to many owners who are used to cat breeds that hate water. The Egyptian Mau loves to play with water! You are very likely to find your kitty dipping their paws into fish tanks and garden ponds. They will also try to turn on the taps in the kitchen or bathroom or splash water out of your swimming pool!
- They are as good at retrieving as dogs
The hunters of the ancient Egyptian world used the Mau as retrievers and this skill is very much present in the genes of the modern breed. It will take just a little effort, and a few kibbles, to teach your pet to fetch just as well as any dog! They are one of the most intelligent breeds of cat and will need challenges to entertain them. You will need to invest in some cat toys and some interactive puzzles.
Things you Should Know About the Egyptian Mau
The Egyptian Mau is a stunning and unique breed that will make you smile every time you glance at them. You have to bear in mind that you have a responsibility to look after them correctly. This means that you need to be aware of some key facts. Here are the main things that you need to know.
The Egyptian Mau is a medium-built cat – you can expect adults to weigh around six to 14 pounds. They have a lifespan of nine to 13 years and are generally a healthy and robust breed. Nevertheless, you must question the breeder about any genetic issues in their cats. You should be looking to get a health guarantee (in writing) from the breeder as kittens do not come cheap!
One particular condition to be aware of is leuodystrophy. It can appear in kittens as young as seven weeks of age and is a neurological condition. It starts as a simple weakness but progresses to a loss of coordination and eventual paralysis which leads to death. Sadly, there is no cure for this condition.
As they are very active cats, they are less prone to obesity than other breeds but you should still be careful about how much you feed them.
All cats do best when they are fed a premium diet that delivers plenty of protein. Cats need loads of meat-based protein to keep them healthy as they cannot digest plant proteins. You need a food that contains plenty of high-quality meat – lean chicken and fish are ideal but game is also a good alternative.
Beware that some cats can be fussy eaters. You may need to try a few brands until you find the perfect one. Omega oils are important to maintain that stunning coat and to help prevent furballs. If you suspect that your kitty is not taking on enough water, you may prefer to feed them wet cat food. However, many owners find that dried food is less messy and more convenient.
It’s actually quite hard to over-feed an Egyptian Mau. They are one of the breeds that will naturally eat less if they have a less active lifestyle. Having said that, most will love to run and leap around and will need plenty of calories to keep them going.
For more guides on choosing the right cat food, you may wish to check out our reviews of the best dry cat food, senior cat food, hypoallergenic cat food, cat food for hairballs and cat cat treats.
All cats require some dental care to keep tooth disease and gum disease at bay. Start a regular dental hygiene routine when your cat is a kitten and they will have no problem with it. It is recommended that you brush your cat’s teeth once a day. However, this is not always possible so a few times a week will do. Use a special cat toothbrush and cat toothpaste that has been designed just for cats. Never use human toothpaste as it will make your cat ill. Have a quick visual check of your cat’s gums and teeth at the same time and report any concerns to your vet.
Nail trimming is also important to protect your hands and your sofa! Again, it helps if you start this when your kitty is young so that they do not mind you doing it. Many owners find that some guillotine style cat nail clippers are best. This is a job that needs to be done once a fortnight.
You may also want to wipe the corners your cat’s eyes with a damp cloth if they have any discharge. Use a different soft cloth for each eye so that you do not spread bacteria. Have a weekly check of their ears and wipe them with a mixture of cider vinegar and warm water using cotton wool if they appear dirty. Never poke anything into your cat’s ears.
Most Egyptian Maus are indoor cats. They can cost a lot of money and outdoor cats are more likely to be injured in an accident, attacked by other animals or stolen. They are also more likely to pick up an infection or an illness. This breed is quite happy to be an indoor pampered pussy cat.
Don’t forget to keep their litter tray scrupulously clean or they will not want to use it! Your vet will be able to advise you about which vaccinations will be necessary.
The most distinctive feature of the Egyptian Mau is their glorious coat. They have a background color of bronze or silver. They can also be a pale silver color that is tipped with black and this is called smoke. Then, of course, there are unmistakable black spots which occur randomly and can vary in shape and size. Also, look out for the M shape on their forehead and stripes of black on their cheeks. Their slim tail has black bands and their pale belly hair also has dark spots.
The hair is of medium length and they do not shed excessively but the texture varies with the color. You will find that if your kitty has the smoke color coat, they are more likely to have a silky and fine coat. Whereas, cats that have a silver or bronze coat will have a denser covering of fur.
Very little grooming is required. You will simply need to brush them once a week to keep that gorgeous coat in the best condition by removing dead hairs and distributing natural oils around the skin. Choose a soft brush that is easy to hold. It is not necessary to give your kitty a bath. However, if they get very messy you may have no choice. This breed does not mind water so they will not get as stressed by it as some other breeds would. Always use a special cat shampoo as this will protect the delicate pH balance of your cat’s skin.
For more help on cat grooming, you may wish to read our guides on the best cat ear cleaners, cat nail clippers, brushes for cats and cat grooming gloves.
Despite the fact that most cats of this breed are house cats, they are extremely active individuals who like to move around a lot so prepare yourself for that! They are the fastest domestic cat on earth and can reach speeds of up to 30 mph so you have no chance of catching them if they decide to run away from you.
The Mau love to be up high so you will find them on top of closets and bookcases. They will also like to climb on your shoulders. You may want to invest in a tall cat tree or a cat window perch – anywhere that your kitty can feel in control by looking down on the world. Scratching posts are also a good idea so that they can stretch out.
This is a highly intelligent breed who will love to play fetch with you. Don’t forget that their ancestors worked as retrievers for Egyptian hunters. They also enjoy interactive cat puzzle games that give them a challenge. You can soon teach them tricks by using kibble as a reward.
On the whole, they are a very gentle and tolerant cat who will happily fit into any family and who will tolerate children of all ages as well as other pets. However, as a sensible precaution, you should always ask to meet the parents of your new kitten and to satisfy yourself that the breeder will be handling them from a young age. Some individuals can be more sensitive and reserved and you will need to introduce some socialization so that they can get used to noises and movement. This is especially important if you intend to enter your cat into cat shows which can be very stressful.
Children get on especially well with Egyptian Mau cats and older children will be thrilled to be able to train them. These cats are also clever enough to avoid toddlers when they need to. They are not scared of dogs but you should always take care when introducing a new pet into the home. It needs to be done gradually and with supervision and control.
On the whole, this is a very happy kitty who loves human attention. When they are with their human family, they will leap up onto laps and swish their tail. They will also knead you with their front paws. One charming characteristic of this breed is their vocal abilities. They will chortle quietly when they are happy but also indicate distress using a louder howl.
Overall, your gorgeous Epyptiam Mau will be devoted to you and all of your family and will like nothing more than playing with you or perching on your shoulder. They may be more wary of strangers but it will not take too long for them to get used to them.
The Last Word
The first reason that people fall in love with the Egyptian Mau is their appearance. Their silky spotted coat and gorgeous green eyes are irresistible. However, everyone soon finds out that the beauty of this breed is not just skin deep. There is a deep bond between the Mau and their human masters which dates back thousands of years. They want to help you by retrieving things and they love to receive praise and human attention.
If you are lucky enough to have one of these unique cats in your home, you will be rewarded with their affection and loyalty. Just don’t try to keep up with them when they are running around because you don’t stand a chance!
- Egyptian Mau – PetMD