With one glance at an Egyptian Mau’s unmistakable spotted coat, it’s obvious they’re special cats. Take a deeper look, and you’ll discover much more than meets the eye.
The Egyptian Mau truly is a one-of-a-kind breed in more ways than one. Discover all that makes this intelligent and athletic cat unique with these seven incredible Egyptian Mau facts.
The 7 Incredible Egyptian Mau Facts
1. Egyptian Maus Are the Fastest Domestic Cat Breed
The average domestic cat’s 20–25 mph running speed certainly edges the typical human sprinting speed of roughly 18 mph, but neither touch the Egyptian Mau’s quickness. As the fastest breed, according to Guinness 1, the Egyptian Mau can run nearly 30 mph!
How is this unassuming speedster so fast? The combination of long hind legs and a unique loose skin flap extending from the back knee to the belly provides a superior range of motion, giving these cats extra extension and more power. Add in the Egyptian Mau’s natural athleticism and muscular frame, and it’s easy to see why they are such incredible sprinters and leapers.
2. The Egyptian Mau’s Coat Is Extremely Rare
Even if the Egyptian Mau’s coat seems unique, many still underappreciate the rarity of the cat’s spots. Sporting black spots across its silver, bronze, or smoke-colored fur, the Egyptian Mau is one of only a few naturally spotted domestic cats. Other spotted cats exist, but the unique patterns of breeds like the Bengal, Ocicat, and Savannah cat only arose from purposeful breeding and human intervention.
3. A Princess Saved the Egyptian Mau Breed
Egyptian Maus were well-liked across Europe in the 1900s, but trouble struck during World War II. Like many pets, Egyptian Maus faced declining numbers as owners struggled with wartime life. By the end of the conflict, they were practically on the verge of extinction.
Fortune struck a decade after the war’s end with Russian princess Natalia Trubetskaya’s exposure to the uniquely coated cats. After receiving a silver Mau in Rome, the princess fell in love with the breed. She brought three cats, Baba, Jojo, and Liza, to the United States in 1956. Two years later, she founded the Fatima Cattery to promote and expand the breed.
To prevent inbreeding, the original Maus likely bred with various out-crossed cats. After achieving championship status with the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1977, Maus from Egypt and, notably, India arrived through the 1980s and 90s, broadening the breed’s genetic diversity while staying true to its unique traits.
4. Egyptian Maus Are the Oldest Domestic Cat Breed
While some DNA studies 2 placed the Egyptian Mau’s ancestry with Turkish, Tunisian, and European breeds, the cat is still generally accepted as an Egyptian breed. “Mau” derives from an old Egyptian word for cat. And when you consider their resemblance to early depictions and specimens from the area, accounting for the Mau’s coat without considering ancient Egyptian cats is almost impossible.
Egyptian Maus in Ancient Egypt
Cats were intrinsic to life in Egypt 3,000 years ago. Alongside their role in protecting communities and food stores from rodents, they aided in the hunt as retrievers of game.
Ancient civilizations eventually assigned cats a god-like status. The Egyptian Mau gained religious significance in roughly 2800 B.C., appearing frequently in artworks since the dawn of the New Kingdom in 1550 B.C.
Ancient paintings and other artifacts show remarkable similarities to today’s Egyptian Maus, including the spotted coat and ringed tail with black tip. Mummified cats dating to about 1000 B.C. with preserved fur revealed genuine resemblances to present cats. Though many worry about the breed losing its identity to out-crossing with European cats, the modern Mau still admirably maintains much of the ancient standard.
5. Egyptian Maus Have Exceptionally Long Pregnancies
Cats have a short pregnancy period compared to humans, with a gestation period averaging around 63–65 days. Egyptians Maus hold off a bit longer, staying pregnant for roughly 73 days, one of the lengthiest gestation periods of any cat. Despite this, the Egyptian Mau’s lifespan, health, and size aren’t markedly different than the average cat.
6. Egyptian Maus Are Fiercely Loyal to Their Owners
Egyptian Maus are no less friendly than the next cat but tend to focus their devotion on a narrow circle of close companions. They generally show extreme loyalty to their primary owner and significant wariness toward strangers and other animals.
With early socialization, Egyptian Maus can fit seamlessly alongside other pets and are often ideal play partners for kids. Maus can gradually adjust to anyone with enough time to warm up, especially when offered entertainment and affection.
7. Egyptian Maus Have a Unique Susceptibility for Urate Stones
Egyptian Maus are relatively healthy cats, but the breed has a strangely distinct susceptibility to urate uroliths. Hardened, obstructive stones form in the urinary tract when crystals develop from various minerals. As the stones enlarge and migrate, they can cause severe pain, UTIs, and difficulty urinating. In the Egyptian Mau’s case, urate uroliths often linked to liver disease are more likely to develop.
Prevalence of Urolithiasis in Egyptian Maus
Siamese and Birman cats are also predisposed to urate uroliths compared to other cats. But the degree to which Egyptian Maus develop stones puts them in a class of their own. A 2010 study found that Birmans and Siamese were roughly nine and four times more predisposed to urate urolithiasis than the average cat, respectively. Meanwhile, Egyptian Maus were over 118 times more susceptible to the condition!
Egyptian Maus also develop urate uroliths at a younger age than most cats, with the average age of appearance being just under 5 years. As an owner, understanding the likelihood of urate uroliths can help you discuss potential issues and preventative strategies with your vet, such as specialized diets.
With their energy, intelligence, and beauty, it’s hard to find an aspect where the Egyptian Mau doesn’t stand out. The ancient breed has a deep connection with its people, making for an exceptional ownership experience. Egyptian Maus have much to offer in any household, and they’ll gladly show it to a loving family.
Featured Image Credit: George Agasandian, Flickr
- 1 The 7 Incredible Egyptian Mau Facts
- 1.1 1. Egyptian Maus Are the Fastest Domestic Cat Breed
- 1.2 2. The Egyptian Mau’s Coat Is Extremely Rare
- 1.3 3. A Princess Saved the Egyptian Mau Breed
- 1.4 4. Egyptian Maus Are the Oldest Domestic Cat Breed
- 1.5 5. Egyptian Maus Have Exceptionally Long Pregnancies
- 1.6 6. Egyptian Maus Are Fiercely Loyal to Their Owners
- 1.7 7. Egyptian Maus Have a Unique Susceptibility for Urate Stones
- 2 Conclusion