“Careful, you’ll fall in love with them!” said the proud Egyptian Mau owner, when I started to ask her questions about these enchanting cats.
All cats have their own unique characters, of course, but Egyptian Maus really are captivating animals. Cats in general can have a reputation as being aloof and independent, but neither of those characteristics will ever apply here. A cat of this breed will expect to be an integral part of the family and involved in anything and everything going on in the home.
When you talk to owners of this breed of cat, you will be given many varying, often contrasting, descriptions. Though considered gentle and sensitive, affectionate and loveable, the Egyptian Mau can also be demanding, willful and highly intelligent. One thing is for sure; for those humans under the spell, they are lifelong devotees of these beguiling cats.
A Quick History of the Egyptian Mau Cat
This beautiful, athletic breed of cat was thought to have been worshipped by pharaohs and kings in Ancient Egypt, over 4,000 years ago. Artwork from Ancient Egypt shows very clearly many cats with spots, and although it is still a matter of some debate, they do look very much like the Egyptian Mau we know and love today.
Fast-forward to the twentieth century and before the Second World War, Egyptian Maus could be found in Europe, and were quite popular in Germany and Italy. The war years almost decimated the population of the Egyptian Mau, but fortunately several breeders in Italy were able to take measures to preserve some breeding stock, allowing these stunning cats to continue.
The arrival of the breed in the United States was thanks to Natalie Troubetsky, a Russian princess who was living in Rome in the 1950s. She became fascinated with such beautiful creatures, but try as she might, she could only find two whole Egyptian Mau in Italy. Eventually the princess was able to locate and import another male from Syria.
In 1953 the original litter of post-war Egyptian Mau kittens were born, with a second the following year. In 1956 Troubetsky moved to the United States with three of her cats, Jojo, Liza and Baba.
Troubetsky wanted to ensure the Egyptian Mau was recognized and survived as a breed, so she wrote a breed standard, and started her own cattery under the name ‘Fatima’.
There was a very limited gene pool to draw from, so it was a challenge to maintain the high qualities of both appearance and temperament. The situation improved in the 1980s with the importation of more cats. The ‘Indian line’ was introduced via two cats from New Delhi in India, effectively doubling the gene pool.
The Cat Fanciers Federation first recognized the Egyptian Mau in 1968, the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1977, and The International Cat Association in 1979.
Egyptian Mau Cat Breed Overview
The only naturally spotted breed of domestic cat, there are three main variations of these stunning coats; silver, bronze or smoke. The spots themselves can be various sizes and either round or oblong. Other distinctive markings include ‘mascara lines’ on the cheeks, an M shape on the forehead and a banded tail with a dark tip. The gorgeous, gooseberry green eyes are another striking characteristic.
A medium sized feline, Egyptian Maus have a muscular body and a wedge-shaped head with medium to large sized ears.
Characteristics / Attitude of the Egyptian Mau Cat
These friendly and intelligent cats thrive on interaction with their human family. While friendly to everyone in the home, they can be wary of strangers and often select a special favorite. Even more curious than even the average cat, they like to be involved in everything that is going on. While making wonderful companions Egyptian Maus can suffer with depression and loneliness if they don’t get the amount of attention that they need.
Egyptian Mau Characteristics & Attitudes
Egyptian Mau Breed Care
With plenty of mental stimulation Egyptian Maus can happily adapt to an indoor life. Without it, they can be considered troublemakers, having to seek entertainment independently for their intelligent minds. These cats have a highly developed, natural sense of curiosity and are very capable of learning through observation. This means that many Maus are able to open drawers, cupboards and even fridges, and help themselves to the contents. It is definitely worth channeling that energy in a positive way, through clicker training, puzzle feeders, interactive toys and more.
Egyptian Maus love to play, and will rarely tire before you do. Toys are something to be possessive about, carrying them around and keeping track of exactly where they are. They will happily play fetch, no training required, and many even like to play in water, whether that is in their own water bowl, the sink, water fountain or even your shower.
Egyptian Mau cats are very affectionate animals, but prefer to be the ones in control. Rather than being picked up whenever you fancy it, Maus will like to be the one to come to you for cuddles and fuss. They really do like things to be on their terms, and because of this it can take confident handling from someone who enjoys a spirited feline.
Early and continuing socialization will be required, especially if you plan to show or travel with your cat. Egyptian Maus can be quite sensitive, and without this grounding early on, any unexpected noises or events could cause distress.
Egyptian Mau cats have a very recognizable Cheetah-style gait, with the hind legs slightly longer than the front. They also have a loose flap of skin along their body, providing them with an amazing agility when twisting and jumping. This breed is therefore strong, athletic and loves to climb. You will need to provide dedicated areas for them to do this, with raised platforms and look-out points. It’s also a good idea to provide a tall, sturdy scratching post to allow them to stretch full-length while using it.
Bathing is rarely necessary for Egyptian Maus as they maintain their own coats very well, with a weekly brush giving them the little support they need to keep it shiny and healthy.
Common Health Issues
It is always a good idea to ask a breeder for any health problems in their lines. A breeder should be able to tell you what testing has been done for any issue that may be genetic in nature.
Egyptian Maus are considered to be more sensitive to medicines and anesthesia compared to other cats, so it is worth bringing this to the attention of your veterinarian to make sure they are aware.
As with all well cared for cats, all the regular check-ups, treatment and immunizations are required.
Leuodystrophy is a neurological condition that can affect Egyptian Mau breed more than average, appearing in kittens as early as 7 weeks of age. It is a serious, and normally fatal condition, showing in symptoms such as body tremors, limb stiffness and urine retention.
While there is no way to test if a cat is a carrier, making it hard to eliminate the condition, there is understanding of how it is inherited. That means that responsible breeders can be very careful to avoid breeding litters with affected kittens.
There are no breed-specific dietary requirements for the Egyptian Mau.
Sometimes Egyptian Maus can become preoccupied with food, and can often open cupboards and raid fridges, so you may need some extra precautions to ensure your cat maintains a healthy weight.
Egyptian Mau Cat Pros & Cons
Some interesting facts
Final Thoughts on the Egyptian Mau Cat Breed
Egyptian Mau are a beautiful example of the feline form; of that there is no doubt. To have one of these enchanting creatures in your life, you do need to be prepared to put in the effort and dedication to ensure their happiness and your sanity! With the right level of interaction and care, you will have a most rewarding relationship with an intelligent, playful and affectionate cat.
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