The word mau means “cat” in Egyptian. These graceful creatures have distinct markings and shapes, with long sleek bodies that look like historic hieroglyphics come to life. Find out what makes feline breed unique from the other exotic cats and spotted breeds that resemble them.

Facts About Egyptian Mau Cats

  • They are an ancient cat breed dating back to the earliest centuries in Egyptian culture. The cats were praised as gods, thought to be from the cat-goddess Bastet. The Egyptian Mau is a descendant from North African wild cats, and is the only domestic cat that is naturally spotted.
  • Like tabby cats, Egyptian Maus have the typical “M” mark just over their eyes. The Egyptians described these unusual lines to be the mark of the scarab (meaning beetle), and the dark lines around the cat’s eyes are similar to the kind of eye makeup early Egyptian men and women would wear.
  • Maus come in a variety of shades, from silver, to gray, black, bronzy-brownish, to dark smoke. The largest portion of the fur is much lighter than the abundance of dark spots across the Mau’s body. They have a smattering of speckles across the back, neck, underbelly and head, while the legs, tails and faces are striped.

    Young Egyptian Mau

    Young Egyptian Mau

  • Egyptian Maus are sometimes mistaken for Bengal cats because of their coloring and marking similarities. However, Bengals can also be marbled, with rosettes and wider spots, having been bred from the Asian Leopard Cat. Bengals are also thicker and more muscular than the slender Mau.
  • These cats are notably both strong and lithe, they are medium-sized animals that move seamlessly and as silently as shadow-dancers. They are a very athletic breed, able to jump great distances, and can run up to 30 miles per house. (Note: Because of their lengthy hind legs, and the extra skin between their stomachs and knees, the Egyptian Maus’ range of motion greatly exceeds that of other domestic cat breeds.)
  • The Mau is an active cat with a sharp mind. Not many things escape them, and they enjoy chasing and hunting anything from small rodents to remote-control toys. They can play fetch, teach themselves how to open doors, escape from many kinds of confinement, and spend hours working with complex indestructible cat toys.
  • The playful and zany Egyptian Maus make great companions for children. Like many cats, they do get annoying with their tail is pulled, or they are squeezed too tightly, so children older than toddlers are the best. However, they are very engaging pets that love hours of playtime, which children are more apt to provide than many grown-ups.
  • Most cats hate water, while there are other cats who appreciate bathing and playing with a faucet stream. Egyptian Maus are one of the few breeds that fall in the category of water-loving cats, meaning that bath time is a far less stressful occasion than it may be for other breeds. The downside of this water-obsession? Pet owners have to keep an eye out for surprise puddles (which could be a slipping hazard) or splashed all over their kitchen counters or bathroom floors. (NOTE: These curious kitties will also try to amuse themselves with the toilet on occasion if it is not carefully covered.)
  • While the affectionate Mau cats might be devoted and demonstrative to their owners, they can be aloof and cool to guests and strangers. Warn any visitors to let the Mau approach them on his terms, and be respectful of his space.

Note: When we say these felines are affectionate, we mean that they do not prefer being picked up or carried around. But if their owner is sitting, they will likely come rest on their lap!)

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