The Egyptian Mau cat breed
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The Egyptian Mau cat breed

Cats
General
Breed Facts

The Egyptian Mau is one of the rare domestic cat breeds that has a naturally spotted coat. It is also one of the most ancient breeds of cat, with a long and distinguished history going back for over 3,000 years. The Egyptian Mau is depicted in artwork from several thousands of years ago that indicates that the breed has not changed significantly within that time. While the Mau may have the exotic and distinctive appearance of a hybrid cat or cross of a domestic cat with one of their wild ancestors, the Egyptian Mau is actually a totally naturally occurring breed, and not the result of out crossing or selective breeding.

The history of the Egyptian Mau

The Mau is recorded as present within Egypt and further afield since before the Christian era, back in the days when cats were worshiped as Gods (cats have never forgotten this). The name “Mau” comes from the Egyptian word for cat, “mw.” It is thought that the Mau was used for hunting birds in its home country, due to the depictions of the cats found alongside of hunters in ancient paintings. The Mau’s distinctive voice can effectively mimic the sounds made by birds, ensuring that the birds would not be scared away, and the cats would then wait with the prey until the hunters approached to take it.

The modern popularity and spread across the world of the Egyptian Mau began in the 1950’s when the exiled Princess Natalie Troubetskya of Russia acquired several Mau cats from the Egyptian ambassador to Italy, and began to breed the line outside of Egypt.

Coat pattern and colour variations in the Mau

The Mau must have green eyes, although amber eyes are permitted in kittens and juvenile cats up to around 18 months old. The head of the Mau has a distinctive lined pattern between the eyes, known as either a scarab marking or an “M” marking depending on its shape. The coat is spotted, with fine lines and bars permitted around the legs and tail. Various different colour varieties are permitted: silver, smoke, bronze, black, and blue/pewter, although only silver, smoke and bronze Maus may be used for showing. Black and blue/pewter Maus are considered to be acceptable for breeding.

Unique Mau traits

The Egyptian Mau is considered to be the fastest domestic cat in the world, having been observed achieving speeds in excess of 30mph! This is partially due to the Mau’s unique physical characteristics; their hind legs are longer than their front legs, and unusually, they have an additional flap of skin running from the knee to the flank, allowing for a longer stride.

They are also renowned for their vocalisations, which are as unique as that of the Siamese cat and if anything, more prolific! They have a wide repertoire of sounds and meows, including chirping, trilling, meowing, and a range of other unique and hard to describe noises!

The Mau also has a distinctive “Mau dance” that they perform when happy, which looks to the uninitiated as if the cat is scent marking, due to its tail-twitching stance. This is common to both male and female Maus, both neutered and entire, and is not connected to scent marking, despite its appearance!

The rarity of the breed

The Egyptian Mau is considered to be relatively rare outside of its home country of Egypt, with under 300 new kittens of the breed being registered with the UK’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy each year. In America, just under 7,000 Egyptian Mau’s are registered in total.

In Egypt itself, the Mau is simply considered to be a regular cat rather than a titled and papered breed, and as such, the breed is in relatively common ownership and a significant number of Egyptian Mau’s can be seen in both domestic settings and as street cats. However, bizarrely, these full Mau cats from their country of origin are not classed as pedigree cats with the world’s main breed organisations, and as such cannot be introduced into pedigree breeding programmes or exported as pedigree pets to other countries.

Cats imported directly from Egypt (other than in rare cases where the cat already has pedigree papers) cannot be registered as a pedigree Mau until they are four generations removed from their home origins, and even then have to be checked and approved by an Egyptian Mau breed registration expert.

Due to the challenges involved in export and the small numbers of Egyptian Mau kittens produced each year, finding a Mau cat or kitten for sale can be challenging, and may take some time. You may need to sign up for a waiting list with a British breeder, and be prepared to be patient!

However, if you are not overly concerned about breed registration and the full pedigree of your cat, you may find it easier to source an Egyptian Mau for sale that is classed as a non-pedigree, either due to out-crossing with other cats or as it is an early generation descendent of an imported Egyptian cat.

Check out Egyptian Mau cats for sale here on Pets4Homes.

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