Egyptian Maus — or simply Maus, as they are lovingly called — has many unique qualities that make it stand out among other cats. As the only naturally spotted breed of domestic cat, they’re well-known for their exotic good looks. Being gentle and extremely loyal by nature, these cats love spending time with their owners.
If you’re looking for a highly-trainable, intelligent pet that will also make a devoted family companion, then the Egyptian Mau is the right choice for you.
Characteristics of Egyptian Maus
Physical characteristics. The Egyptian Mau is a small-to-medium-sized cat breed. Its lithe and muscular body gives the appearance of grace, strength, and substance. There are several unique characteristics of Egyptian Maus, making it easy to recognize them. On their forehead, you can find a distinct “M” shape, known as the mark of the scarab. Their eyes can also catch your attention since they’re large, expressive, and gooseberry green in color.
Despite being domesticated, cats of this breed have retained many of the traits of their early ancestors. For example, their hind legs are longer than their forelegs, which makes it seem like they’re standing on tiptoes. This “tiptoe stance” gives this breed a regal bearing.
You can also identify these cats from their loose flap of skin that extends from their flank to their back knee. This feature gives Maus great agility and freedom of movement. Cats of this breed can run at speeds exceeding 30 mph, making them some of the fastest domestic cats.
When it comes to the size of Egyptian Maus, the males tend to be larger than the females. Cats of this breed weigh anywhere between 6 and 14 pounds. Their bodies can grow up to 16 inches in length and 8 to 14 inches in height.
Many find the Egyptian Maus attractive due to their spotted coat patterns. Their coats come in various colors, from the naturally occurring silver, bronze, and black to the more diluted shades of blue, blue silver, and smoky blue. Maus have medium-length coat hair, which can be either fine, silky, or dense in texture, depending on the color.
Temperament. The personality of Egyptian Maus changes depending on their situation. They can seem cautious and shy around strangers, but when comfortable, they become extremely playful, outgoing, and fearless.
While Maus are friendly to everyone in the family, they stay fiercely loyal and often devoted to one “special person,” whom they select from among the owners. The cat forms a special bond with this person and always crave their attention.
Although Egyptian Maus like being around their owners, they can also be happy by themselves. Since they’re a highly alert, active, and intelligent breed, they tend to find different games to pass the time. As their owner, you may often find them wiggling their tails passionately. This behavior expresses their happiness.
Caring for Egyptian Maus
Grooming. Egyptian Maus don’t require extensive grooming. Since they only shed moderately, it’s enough to brush their coat once a week to keep it healthy and shiny. Regular brushing will also prevent the formation of hairballs: a small collection of hair formed in the stomach of animals who accidentally ingest hair while grooming themselves.
Cats of this breed need their nails to be trimmed at least once a week. Whenever their ears look dirty, clean them with a gentle, pet-approved cleanser.
This breed is prone to getting gingivitis and dental disease, so make sure to brush their teeth daily with cat-friendly toothpaste and have a veterinarian clean their teeth every few months.
Exercise. Egyptian Maus require frequent exercise. They’re an athletic and moderate-to-highly active breed. Since Maus love to climb, run and jump, make sure they always have access to scratching posts, tall cat trees, and safe indoor places for playing.
Like some other cat breeds, Egyptian Maus enjoy playing with water. They can learn to turn on faucets by themselves if they don’t find a fresh source of water at all times. For this reason, many pet experts recommend exercising them where there are filtered drinking fountains nearby. This not only gives them an opportunity to quench their thirst but also a place where they can splash water and play.
Training. The Egyptian Mou is a highly intelligent breed. You can easily train these cats to jump through hoops, walk on a leash, come when called, shake, roll over, and even play fetch. These cats are so observant and smart that they often teach themselves how to open drawers, doors, and cupboards.
Due to their active and playful nature, they can make a mess of things in the house if not trained properly. Training not only keeps them from getting bored but also allows you to teach them some house rules.
To train them, use fun and positive reinforcement techniques like rewards and treats. Just don’t overdo it, as doing so can lead to obesity. Since Maus have a sensitive side, they don’t respond well to threats and punishments. If you ever lose their attention during the training, don’t scold them. Rather, choose to end the session gently and come back to it later.
Nutrition. Make sure your Mau has access to fresh, clean water at all times. For those who worry about their pets drinking too little water, cat behaviorists suggest maintaining a minimum distance of three feet between their water bowl and food. Since cats have sensitive noses, the strong smell of food may lower their urge to drink water.
Feed your cat a high-quality, balanced diet that includes both dry and wet food. You can talk to your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your Mau, based on their lifestyle and specific medical conditions.
Medical Care. Egyptian Maus have a high risk of getting certain bacterial and viral infections like rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia, rabies, and calicivirus. The good news is that all of them can be prevented through a set of “core” vaccines.
Different kinds of bugs, including ticks, fleas, and ear mites, can infest your Mau. It’s also possible for worms like heartworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms to enter your pet’s system. To prevent this from occurring, get your cat tested for parasites regularly. Your vet can also recommend some preventive medicines that can keep such bugs and worms at bay.
Health Problems to Watch for With Egyptian Maus
The lifespan of Egyptian Maus typically ranges from 10 to 15 years.
Their breed — despite mostly being robust and healthy — is prone to some of these health conditions:
Urolithiasis: In this condition, stony deposits are formed in the kidneys and urinary tract of your cat. It can be especially life-threatening in male cats, as the stones can get stuck in their urethra and prevent them from urinating.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK-Def): Cats with this condition often have anemia. This is because they lack the enzyme pyruvate kinase, which is needed by their red blood cells.
Leukodystrophy: This is a rare genetic disorder that can affect the spine and brain of your Mau. You may notice the symptoms in kittens who are as young as 7 weeks old.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This condition may cause the heart muscle of your pet to become abnormally thick, which, in turn, can weaken the heart.
Umbilical hernias. This condition occurs when a part of the intestine bulges through a weak spot in the abdominal wall, near the belly button. It has to be surgically repaired in most cases.
Special Considerations for Egyptian Maus
Before getting an Egyptian Mau as a pet, make sure you have made the necessary changes in your house. Get a cat tree or make an artificial perch on which they can sit as well as climb and jump. Otherwise, they may make their own perch on the top of your bookcases, refrigerator, and kitchen cabinets.
They tend to be friendly with other family pets, but on their own terms. Fights and conflicts arise when the other pets are not as playful as the Maus. This happens because the less energetic animals often get irritated by the enthusiastic nature of this breed. When it comes to the pets of strangers, Egyptian Maus are less welcoming and friendly.
The Mau is a kid-friendly pet. They love to spend time with children, whether young or old. When it comes to playing with young children, these cats often keep their claws away and stay particularly gentle. It seems this is because they understand the delicate nature of kids.
Since Egyptian Maus have a shy and sensitive side, they become easily stressed by sudden loud noises. Choose to get one only if you can give them a peaceful environment, free of unpleasant sounds like dog barks and street noise.
History of Egyptian Maus
It has always been believed that Ancient Egypt was the birthplace of the regal domestic cat breed called Egyptian Mau, but now, there is genetic and archaeological evidence that supports this, thanks to the research done by feline geneticist Leslie A. Lyons, Ph.D.
The term “Mau” means sun or cat in the ancient Egyptian language. Many documents from this time show that Maus were considered a treasure and even venerated by kings and pharaohs. Frescoes and papyri belonging to the 1550 B.C. era depict spotted cats with the same, distinct markings observed in today’s Egyptian Mau.
Breeders in Switzerland, France, and Italy first raised cats similar to the Egyptian Mau in the early 20th century. However, their numbers saw a steep decline during World War II. Many experts believe that had it not been for the work of Nathalie Troubetskoy, the breed would have gone extinct.
Nathalie Troubetskoy was an exiled Russian princess who had settled in Rome in the 1950s. She was given a silver-spotted kitten, which she later discovered was an Egyptian Mau. Impressed by the exotic beauty and loyal nature of her cat, Troubetskoy decided to revive the Mau breed.
In 1956, she bred the first litter of Egyptian Maus, using her silver cat Lulu, a male cat called Gregorio, and other cats imported from the Middle East. In 1968, the Egyptian Mau was recognized as a breed by the Canadian Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers’ Association. In 1979, the breed was officially accepted by the International Cat Association.
Despite such recognition and breeding efforts, the Egyptian Mau remains a rare breed. You will only find 3,000 cats belonging to this breed worldwide.