History of Egyptian Mau

Legends and mystery surround the origins of this ancient and royal breed.

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.

The breed as it is known today dates to a silver female kitten given to Russian princess Natalie Troubetskoy when she was living in Rome. Depending on the story, the kitten was given to her by a young boy who had been keeping it in a shoebox or she acquired one from the Egyptian ambassador to Italy. Troubetskoy named the kitten Baba. When she moved to the United States in 1956, Baba and two of her offspring came with her. Troubetskoy wanted to ensure that the Mau survived as a breed, so she wrote a breed standard and began breeding the cats under the cattery name Fatima.


The Egyptian Mau is an assured, confident cat (despite the worried look!), and has an independent nature as might be expected from the ancient Egyptian ancestry. They often possess very musical voices, and are very chatty cats that chirp, chortle and make other unusual cat sounds when something catches their imagination. They are intelligent and affectionate, although not as demanding as some other breeds such as Siamese and Orientals, and although they are happy to sit on a lap for short periods, they are always on the lookout for something more interesting going on. They become attached to their 'special' humans, often greeting when people return home from work, but they are definitely their own person! They don't always adapt well to changes in the home, including the introduction of a new pet, or a visit from a human with a loud voice.


Egyptian Maus are a dramatic-looking breed, distinguished by their random spotted coat pattern in tabby (bronze and silver) and smoke colours. The spots can be large or small, round, oblong or an irregular shape, and the spotting does not need to match. The front legs are heavily barred and/or spotted and do not necessarily match, and the upper hind legs show a pattern between stripes and spots which changes into bars on the lower leg. The coat is close lying with a lustrous sheen, and in the silver and bronze colours each hair has at least two bands of ticking separated by lighter bands. These are active, well balanced cats of medium size, with amazing strength and a muscular feel to them, yet this is a very elegant breed. They have a very subtle light eye colour, described as 'gooseberry green', and they are large and almond-shaped. The ears are of moderate size, slightly pointed, and cupped forward giving them an alert look, and yet the facial markings, together with a wide eye shape give this breed a unique worried expression.

Interesting facts :)

* Egyptian Maus are a relatively rare breed. As of 2007, fewer than 200 kittens are registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy each year.[11] As of 2006, a total of 6,742 Maus were registered with the Cat Fanciers' Association.

* Maus will often “test” their drinking water with their paw before sipping it.

* The breed benefited from the publicity provided by the recent "Catwoman" film that starred an Egyptian Mau (well, there were three Maus playing the role and it was part of the fun of the film to recognise where the cats swapped scenes) as well as Halle Berry who, it was reported liked the breed very much!