The Breed History
Mau is an Egyptian word for cat-perhaps originally this word was an approximation of the meow sound. This is the only naturally spotted domestic cat breed. The first scribed records of the Mau cat go back to 1400 BC which makes it one of the very oldest known breeds; they were represented in artwork dating much further back-about 3000 BC. It is thought that they were domesticated from spotted African Wild Cats, Felis libyca subsp. ocreata. Egyptians used to hold cats in special regard, and frequently mummified them. At one cemetery site, 300,000 cat mummies were interred. Bastet, daughter of Ra was the Egyptian goddess of fertility and in statuary, was represented with a cat head. Egyptian Mau spotted cats came from Cairo to America in 1956 via Italy. The breed was accepted by CFF in 1968 and accorded championship status by CFA in 1977. The FIFР№ approved them in 1992. In the UK, Shorthair Oriental Spotted Tabbies were called "Maus" for a while and this has caused some confusion regarding the two breeds. No outcrossing is currently allowed. The progenitor female for the North American lines was a silver cat named Baba.
Weight: 5-12 lb (2-5.5 kg), males larger than females
Coat: The original coat was the spotted pattern in bronze (dark brown-black spots on bronze agouti), but now silver (charcoal spots on silver agouti) or smoke (black spots over silver-charcoal body hairs and white undercoat) are also accepted. Black and blue kittens occur and can be registered but are pet quality. Agouti hairs have at least two bands of color striping. Hair is short-medium in length. Good sharp contrast between spots and background is highly valued. Spots of the silver and bronze coats can be any size or shape but should not form any tabby pattern. Bronze cats may have a pattern limited to the topline though. Some tabby markings are seen in the Smokes. Forehead pattern is in an M-shape, which had significance in ancient times, as it reminded the Egyptians of their sacred scarab. Dark lines extend between the ears back to the neck. These lines are termed frown marks. Mascara marking lines the eyes. A dorsal stripe goes down the topline extending to the tail base. Other specific coat markings such as tail and limb banding are noted in the breed standards. Hair texture varies between coat colors but is silky and lustrous in general.
Eyes: Eyes are always a shade of light green (called gooseberry) in mature cats. Kittens may have amber overtones up to 18 months of age only. Almond shaped eyes are large.
Points of Conformation: Medium sized cats, they are well muscled, with rounded-wedge shaped head and medium length muzzle. There is no break, and ears are large, moderately pointed and positioned to continue the lines of the face, preferably tufted. Paws are small and round-oval in shape. Tail is medium-long, tapering from a thick base, and overall the cat is quite fine in appearance. They possess a loose skin flap, running from flank to stifle area.
Grooming: The Mau has low grooming needs; a periodic light brush or hand/chamois will suffice. Towel rather than blow dry if a bath is needed.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Variable personalities are present in the breed, from those demanding attention to aloof cats but overall, are considered well balanced. They are vigorously playful, and are lively and friendly with family in general. They chortle and talk softly. Tend to bond closely with one family member and be fiercely loyal. Can be taught tricks and many will leash train. Like to jump and sit in high places, so a perch or cat tree should be provided. Need time to explore new environments, so it is best to gradually introduce new people and places.
Normal Breed Variations
Are the fastest domestic cat runners checked so far-clocked at 30 mph (48 km/hr). Deciduous teeth can be delayed in shedding. May shake their tail when happy; appears as if spraying but no urine produced. Slightly longer average gestation period-queens often go up to 70 days. Best to limit feeding. Some cats like water, but this does not necessarily translate into enjoying baths.
Kitten Internet Information Project:
Female average birth weight: 101 g, male 107 g
None reported in literature
None reported in the literature
Feline leukemia Virus: Endogenous feline leukemia (enFeLVs) were studied in a single specimen of Burmese, Egyptian Mau and Persian breed cats to determine how many loci and where proviruses were typically inserted. This may indicate genetic propensity for leukemia genesis in these cats when exposed to the exogenous feline leukemia virus. They found provirus on 12/18 autosomes, with an average 19 autosomal copies per cat. One specific locus contained both homologues in all 3 cats. They were also found on both X and Y chromosomes. Back in the time of early breed development, temperament problems, asthma and cardiomyopathy were mentioned in a fancy article as predispositions, but careful outcrossing and selective breeding has helped to control these traits in the breeding pool. Anecdotal reports of food sensitivity in some lines.
Rare and Isolated Reports
Hypomyelination/Dysmyelination: Case report described two inbred littermates at 7 weeks of age with clinical signs of progressive hypermetria/ataxia and bouts of reduced activity and periodic seizures. Brain and spinal cord had extensive vacuolation or spongy degeneration of grey and white matter. By 4 months of age, their overall status was poor, with some dsyphagia. One kitten was euthanized at 4 months of age, the other kitten gradually improved. In the litter, one other kitten was stillborn, another died very young, and yet another developed mild hind limb ataxia at 10 months of age. The parents had a common sire on both sides. The spongy degeneration was postulated to result from lowered ATPase activity in astrocyte mitochondria. A genetic basis was suspected.
No commercially available tests
- Breed name synonyms: Mau, Egyptian Cat, Spotted Cat
- Registries: FIFe, TICA, CFA, ACFA, NZCF, CCA, WCF, GCCF
- Breed resources: Egyptian Mau Breeders and Fanciers Club (CFA): http://www.geocities.com/Petsburgh/2369/
Global Egyptian Mau Society: http://www.egyptianmau.org/
The Egyptian Mau Club (UK): http://www.egyptianmaus.co.uk/
National Egyptian Mau Council (CFA): http://www.egyptianmaubc.org/records.html
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