By Dr. Becker
The Egyptian Mau is widely considered the fastest domestic cat on record.
One of several distinctive physical traits of the Mau is a fold of skin under the belly that allows him to stretch his legs back farther while running.
Maus are one of just a few domestic cat breeds with spotted coats.
If you're thinking of adding an Egyptian Mau cat to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable cats.
10 Fascinating Facts About Egyptian Mau Cats
The Egyptian Mau Is the 'Greyhound of Cats'
The Egyptian Mau ("mau" is the Egyptian word for cat) is muscular and agile, with tremendous jumping ability. He's also a remarkably fast runner – these cats have been clocked at up to 30 miles per hour!
The Mau is a natural athlete who loves to climb (including onto your shoulder), and chase "prey" (his toys). He'll also communicate with you by wagging his tail, kneading with his front paws, or making a little chuckling sound.
The Egyptian Mau Is One of Only a Few Domestic Cats with a Natural Spotting Pattern
Mau show cats have three primary coat colors: silver with charcoal markings, bronze with dark brown or black markings, and smoke with black markings. Maus kept strictly as pets have a broader range of coat colors, including solid black or blue, blue silver, and blue smoke.
The spots in the Mau's coat occur only on the tips of the hair, and he has a mark in the shape of an "M" on his forehead.
The Egyptian Mau Has Several Distinctive Physical Features
Maus are medium-sized cats with an average weight of seven to nine pounds, and a weight range of about six to 14 pounds. Their heads are rounded and wedge-shaped. The eyes are almond-shaped and green, and they wear a slightly worried expression.
The Egyptian Mau's front legs are a bit shorter than her back legs. She also has a fold of skin under her tummy similar to a cheetah's, which allows her legs to stretch back farther when she runs.
Another distinctive feature of the Mau is a long dark stripe that runs along the spine from the head to the tail.
The Egyptian Mau Probably Didn't Originate in Egypt
Despite this breed's name, DNA analysis indicates that Egyptian Mau cats may have originated in Europe and North America. However, other experts believe the breed did originate in Egypt, possibly descended from the small African wild cat.
This theory is based on ancient artwork discovered in Egypt that depicts spotted cats with the same distinctive markings as the Mau. The modern day Egyptian Mau is closely related to the Maine Coon, Korat, and American Turkish Angora breeds.
The Egyptian Mau Has a Gentle, Sensitive Temperament
Maus love their humans and are very affectionate with them, but they tend to be reserved with strangers. Since these kitties are on the shy side, it's very important to offer them lots of socialization opportunities not only as kittens, but throughout their lives.
Maus are also highly intelligent and observant, so don't be surprised if yours quickly learns how to open drawers or cabinets to get something she's after. Because she's so smart, it's a good idea to regularly challenge your Mau by teaching her tricks and providing puzzle toys and treat rewards.
The Egyptian Mau Is a Moderate to Highly Active Cat
Maus like to jump and climb, so it's a good idea to supply yours with a tall cat tree, window perches, and a scratching surface that allows him to stretch out to full height. Anything else you might add to his environment that allows him to leap and climb will also be greatly appreciated.
These cats tend to like the water, so expect yours to try to turn on the faucets in your bathroom or kitchen, splash water out of your bathtub, or play in his water bowl. If your Mau is a water-lover, consider purchasing a cat water fountain.
Because they are so lively and playful, Maus are a good choice for families with children. They also do well with friendly dogs.
Egyptian Maus Are Fairly Low-Maintenance
You can keep your Mau's coat in good condition with a weekly brushing or combing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. Trim her nails every couple of weeks. Keep the corners of her eyes free of discharge by wiping the area with a soft, damp cloth, and clean her ears as necessary. To prevent periodontal disease, brush her teeth daily or at least several times a week.
Egyptian Maus are enthusiastic hunters, so if you take yours outdoors, make sure she is closely supervised. Either walk her using a harness, or provide her with a secure outdoor enclosure.
The Egyptian Mau Is Generally Healthy
The Mau is a generally healthy breed, but rarely a kitty will develop leukodystrophy, an inherited neurological disease that causes progressive weakness and difficulty walking. It can appear in kittens as early as seven weeks of age.
Maus tend to be more temperature sensitive than other breeds and prefer very warm environments. They are also more sensitive to drugs and anesthesia.
Female Egyptian Maus are reported to carry their unborn kittens longer than average. The maximum normal gestational period for cats is 65 to 67 days – Mau moms carry for around 73 days before giving birth.