Last updated: February 18, 2017
The Egyptian Mau is a unique, exotic breed with many admirers. It is the only naturally occurring domestic spotted cat. A natural athlete, the Egyptian Mau graces any home with his noble presence.
The Egyptian Mau is a medium sized cat, weighing between 6 and 14 pounds. The body is lithe and well-muscled but not overly slender. There is a loose flap of skin that extends from the last rib towards the rear legs. The flap gives the cat added agility and contributes towards his extreme jumping ability and speed. They have actually being clocked at 30 miles per hour and are one of the fastest of all domestic cats. As with many excellent jumpers, the rear legs are longer than the forelegs giving them an appearance of being on their tip toes.
The head is a modified wedge without flat planes or full cheeks. The eyes are almond shaped and tilt slightly towards the out base of the ear, giving them the appearance of being worried. In colour, the eyes are always gooseberry green which is slightly lighter than the green of a grape. They may start out slightly different in colour but should be gooseberry green by the time the cat is 18 months of age. The ears are medium to large in size and wide at the base, tapering to moderately pointed tips. They may have lynx tips.
The coat is naturally spotted and comes in three colours: black silver, bronze, and black smoke. The mark of the scarab is an “M” shaped mark on the head that is always present. There are mascara lines on the face and a specific pattern of lines should be present including spinal lines that extend into a dorsal line that extends to the end of the tail. There are also frown lines that extend from the ears down onto the spine and becomes spots on the spine. There are usually multiple broken necklaces and the shoulder lines gradually transition from stripes to spots. The tail is banded and tipped dark. The coat is always tabby spotted or smoke and no other colours are acceptable. It is medium in length and carries two bands of ticking. The coat of black smokes is silkier than the two tabby patterns but all are close-lying and require only occasional brushing to be kept glossy and healthy.
Overall, the Egyptian Mau is a strikingly beautiful cat with an exotic, regal air to it.
Egyptian historical documents and genetic research by feline geneticist Dr. Leslie Lyons supports the fact that the Egyptian Mau is originally from Egypt and is likely the cat or a descendant of the cats seen in ancient Egyptian artifacts. The Egyptians worshipped cats, even elevating them to god status.
The cats gradually spread throughout the world via cats brought out of Egypt by travellers. They came to the United States when exiled Russian Princess Nathalie Troubetskoy imported three cats from Italy, two females (Baba and Liza) and a male (Jojo). The gene pool remains relatively small and you are likely to end up on a waiting list for a kitten but they are well worth it.
The Egyptian Mau is a fairly healthy cat, usually lives well into its teen years. They are subject to all the normal problems with cats but they are more prone to leukodystrophy than some other breeds. The latter is a neurological condition that causes demyelination and a variety of other brain and central nervous system disturbances. It can appear as early as 7 weeks of age and is progressively degenerative. Unfortunately, the prognosis is very poor.
As with the purchase of any kitten, it is important to find a responsible breeder that stands behind their cats. They should provide a written contract that includes a health guarantee and provisions should the kitten develop an inherited condition like leukodystrophy. Ask them about occurrences of the disease within their lines and what they know about leukodystrophy. A good breed is educated about potential problems within the breed and should be able to discuss the disease with you.
The personality of the Egyptian Mau is perhaps its greatest treasure. They are not as gregarious as some of the other breeds but they are very devoted and loyal to those they deem worthy. They can come across as being shy and aloof with strangers and are not immediately warm with guests in the home.
They tend to choose one person or family and, with them, they are extremely affectionate and loving. They will curl up on your lap and enjoy being patted and loved. For those they love, their family is the centre of their world. They demand to be a part of their lives and persist until you allow them into your activities.
They can be quite sound sensitive and have particularly sharp senses. This means they can be easily startled and frightened. If you intend to show your cat or travel with it, you need to work at socializing him extensively from kittenhood.
They love high places such as cabinets, your shoulders, and the top of the fridge. They are playful and highly intelligent. The Egyptian Mau enjoys playing with toys and loves puzzle games. His history as a hunter is evident in the way he enjoys pouncing games.
While the Egyptian Mau does well with children and cat-friendly dogs, he is not a good choice for homes with birds and rodents. His instincts will have him hunting and stalking them to the benefit of neither species. If allowed outdoors, they will hunt whatever comes across their path heedless of the dangers posed by other animals and vehicles. So, it is best to keep him indoors.
Although not overly talkative, the Egyptian Mau tends to chortle or trill occasionally. They tend to express their happiness through a swishing tail and kneading with their front paws. If you are the person in an Egyptian Mau’s life, he will ensure that you know how important you are to him and see to it that you know when he is pleased.
They are quite adaptable within their home territory and do well with children, other cats, and cat-friendly dogs. They do not need constant companionship and can handle themselves when left alone but will enjoy it when it is available. They are a great choice for homes where the family works long hours but wants to enjoy their pet’s companionship to the maximum when they are home.