By Dot Brocksom
from The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book
History suggests that our domestic cats are the descendents of the cats of ancient Egypt. This is most apparent in the Egyptian Mau. Mau is the Egyptian word for cat. The ancestors of these cats are highly visible in the artwork of the ancient Egyptians, where many of their depictions were of heavily spotted felines bearing the distinctive mascara marking and barring seen on the Egyptian Mau of today.
The Egyptian Mau's spots, which might be considered more characteristic of wild cats than domestic breeds are the first to catch the eye, but the beauty of the Mau goes far beyond its coat and the beguiling gooseberry green eyes. One immediately senses a spirit, a mysteriousness that reflects the deity it once was in ancient Egypt.
The Egyptian Mau is sleek and muscular with a flap of skin extending from the posterior end of the ribcage to the hind legs, which lends the Mau an uncanny leaping ability, great length of stride and makes the breed capable of great bursts of speed. The shoulder blades are high and the legs long, the hind legs being longer, giving it a cheetah-like gait and an appearance of being on tiptoe. A Mau can be serenely sitting, grooming itself, and the next moment; it will leap and move completely across the room without hesitation.
The head is fine with a brow line and eye set beautified by mascara lines, giving the Mau a rather concerned or worried expression. A scarab marking (a beetle held sacred by the ancient Egyptians) on the forehead and large ears that are often tufted at the tips, complete the look.
The Egyptian Mau possesses an extraordinary power of scent, hearing, and sight. They are incredibly intelligent cats, always aware of everything in their surroundings. In spirit, Maus are especially sensitive to the needs and feelings of their families, both human and feline. They are quiet cats with a low melodious voice, and enjoy engaging their people in subdued conversations. Often, you will find them chirping with each other or sitting at a window "chattering" at the birds flying outside.
They are wonderful pets, patient and gentle with children and get along well with other animals in the house. The Egyptian Mau is affectionate within the family but can be reserved with strangers. Given a bit of time, you will find them next to your houseguests, inspecting them for new wonderful smells. They are marvelous parents, attentive to their kittens and take great pleasure in teaching them proper household manners.
In their souls, Egyptian Maus are dauntless and fun seeking. They love games and toys, of which they will take exclusive possession with lightening speed. Some Maus love to fetch, and you will soon find that you will tire of it before they do. Maus have excellent dexterity with their paws, and you will need to put small items out of sight or they will become toys you might never see again. You will watch in wonder as a Mau will pick up a pen or other small item in its paws and then transfer it to his mouth and run away with his newest toy.
The Egyptian Mau has often been thought of as aloof and shy. To a certain extent, this is true; but this breed has a special affinity with people. They develop a close bond that is different than with other breeds. A typical Mau will command your attention. It will not allow you to push it away, as it craves the touch of special people that are his and his alone. These cats become the center of your world, and they know it. They take over your life with incredible, but gentle persistence and insist on being the sole reason for your existence. The breed is intensely loyal and yet happy to go about the business of being a cat. But when it is ready for you, there is no stopping the love, attention, and adoration the Mau is going to bestow upon you.
Egyptian Mau Care
This breed loves to eat and if allowed unlimited food would quickly become overweight. A controlled feeding environment is essential for the well being of the cat. Fresh water must be available at all times, but you will find that for some this is as much a place to play as it is to drink.
The Egyptian Mau kitten requires handling from birth with special attention being paid to exposure to new people and places, as well as acclimating it to new, loud, or strange sounds. Leaving the television or radio on will help accustom them to different noises. They do not like to be "dangled" so using both hands when carrying them is essential. Place one hand gently under the chest and the other just forward of the back legs. This is the ideal way to hold and carry them. They prefer to have all four feet on the floor or on the table.
Grooming should be established as a routine for your cat or kitten as soon as possible. Because they love to be stroked, it is convenient to use the opportunity to remove dead and loose hairs from the coat as you pet them. Check their ears to make sure they are clean. You can use a tissue to clean them. As with all healthy cats, eyes should be bright and shining. Nails should be trimmed at least once every two weeks. When handling your Mau, make sure you touch his feet, so he will get used to the idea of having his nails trimmed.
Bathing a Mau is seldom required, unless of course you plan to show the cat. This is a relatively simple procedure that you can learn from your breeder or mentor. The fine points of grooming come with time and experience. You will find that your fellow exhibitors and breeders are always happy to share their grooming "secrets" with you.
Many experts believe that the Egyptian Mau is the Cat Fancy's oldest breed, domesticated more than 4,000 years ago from a spotted subspecies of the African Wild Cat, Felix Libyca Ocreata. Of all the domestic cats of today, the Mau has the distinction of being the only naturally spotted breed.
Ancient Egyptians had an intense reverence for their cats. They were worshipped as deities, cherished as household pets, and protected by law. Deliberately harming a cat was punishable by death. One historian recorded the mob killing of a Roman who had caused the death of a cat. When a beloved pet died, members of the household shaved their eyebrows to express their grief. Upon their demise, cats were taken to the city of Bubastis, mummified and buried in sacred repositories.
In recent times, the aristocracy and diplomatic corps of Egypt throughout the Middle East kept the descendants of these cats as treasured pets. While living in Rome, the exiled Russian princess, Nathalie Troubetskoy was given a spotted silver female Egyptian Mau kitten by a young boy with whom she was acquainted. He had obtained the kitten from a member of a Middle Eastern embassy. The Princess was fascinated by the breed, and was particularly taken by the unique beauty of this kitten, which she named Baba. Using her contacts among foreign ambassadors, she was able to secure additional Egyptian Maus through the Syrian embassy, which she used to help establish her breeding lines.
In December 1956, after years of red tape, Princess Troubetskoy immigrated to the United States. She carried with her in a wicker basket the silver female Baba, a bronze male called JoJo, and a younger silver kitten named Liza. Once settled, she began breeding Maus, and firmly established them in North America. They are now bred extensively in Japan and Europe and have achieved a definite place in modern feline history.
The ultimate goal of any new breed, which is CFA championship status, was achieved in 1977. That same year also brought the first CFA grand title to a silver male within the breed. In 1993, a silver female became the first Egyptian Mau national winner, finishing the year with two national wins (one in the championship category and one in the kitten category), giving all Mau breeders and fanciers cause to celebrate.
The call of the wild entrances people as they see this most exotic looking cat with the phenomenal spots and facial highlights. A truly, unique breed of cat, the Egyptian Mau will never fail to amaze you with its loyalty and gentle, playful nature. With its great beauty of body and spirit, it is not surprising that it was worshipped in ancient Egypt, traveled with royalty to the United States, and now endears itself to cat fanciers throughout the world.
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