Egyptian Mau cats are the only naturally spotted domestic cat breed. Other spotted cats have been specifically bred to produce spots, but this ancient breed has always had them.
It is easy to believe this cat has been worshipped in ancient Egypt - the look is so exotic and wild that in any cat show when you see a big group of people, it is quite probable the cat they are admiring is an Egyptian Mau.
The coat of the Mau should be resilient and glossy of medium length (also called medium short). It should have a lustrous sheen. The silver and bronze colored Maus have a dense, resilient coat - the hairs have two or more bands of ticking. The smoke Maus have a silky and fine coat. The coat color isn't ready at birth, and takes over a year (over 15 months) to develop into full color.
The spots of an Eyptian Mau are on the tips of the hairs - the hair between the skin and the tip are of a lighter color. But then, again, when you look at their skin, the spots are there too. Here you can see a photo of Qetesh (whose portrait I painted, you can see it on the upper right) after she was neutered. The shaven hair clearly reveals the spots in the tummy skin.
The spots of Egyptian Mau cats are randomly on the torso and their shape and size may vary considerably. They may be oblong or round. They may be irregular in shape. But all the spots should be distinct and be of good contrast to the lighter ground color. The sides of the cat do not need to be identical. People often confuse Maus as Ocicats, but Ocis have large, well scattered and thumb-print shaped spots.
Darker lines should extend from between the ears and down the back of the neck, preferably breaking into elongated spots along the spine. At the rear these spots combine together, forming a dorsal stripe which then continues through the length of the tail, on the top of it until it reaches the tip.
The legs and tail of Egyptian Mau cats are banded - on the tail the rings show elongated spots that are called brush strokes (if you wish to see real brushstrokes about the brushstrokes mentioned here, click on the picture on the upper right to look closer at the portrait of a silver Egyptian Mau Qetesh I painted).
The toes and ears may also be spotted. But the key word here is "spot". There should never be rosettes.
On the upper chest the Egyptian Mau cats should have one or more broken necklaces.
There is a black stripe from the top of the head that runs along the spine to the tip of the tail
The shoulders show a transition between stripes and spots - as do the haunches and upper hind legs, breaking into bars on the lower legs. Upper front legs are heavily barred, the marks don't necessarily match with the other leg.
The belly of Egyptian Mau cats have vest
button spots - quite cute to say the least. (Just look at the photo of Rut's Mau Tut underneath)
Sometimes Maus are born with classic tabby or blotched patterns. These cats are not bred, but they do make wonderful pets. So if you are planning on getting a Mau but don't necessarily wish to show your cat, why not consider a tabby Mau? Their delightful character is exactly the same as the spotted Mau's. but they are cheaper - and yes, they are still beautiful.
Egyptian Mau cats are on the small side as a breed - officially from small to medium in size. Males, as usual, are a bit larger than the females. The males weigh around 10-14 pounds / 4-6 kg. And the females weight 6-10 pounds / 3-4 kg.
The Mau is of moderate, semi-foreign type. (Foreign would mean a very slender body)
The impression of the cat should be of an active cat in perfect physical condition and alert appearance, sometimes referred to as regal bearing. They should be well balanced both physically and temperamentally (the wild personalities of the early Maus have been considerably mellowed with the breeding programs, but a Mau should never be too "tame" - it is in their nature to be alert and ever curious about new things).
Egyptian Mau cats have a medium-length body with well developed muscular strength. It should give a slender, graceful impression, but not of oriental type. General balance of the body is more important than size. Adult males may have more muscular necks and shoulders than the females. The shoulder blades should rise higher than the line of the back.
The head of an Egyptian Mau is a slightly rounded wedge with no flat planes. The head is medium in length and the profile should have a gentle contour with a slight rise from the bridge of the nose to the forehead. The length of the nose is even in width which means is has the same width between the eyes and the end of the nose. This, together with the shape of the eyes creates the typical "worried look" of a Mau.
The muzzle should flow into the wedge of the head and should not be short or pointed. The chin should be firm, not receding, not protruding.
A Mau is not full-cheeked, but jowls are allowed in adult males.
The cheeks have "mascara-lines" from the corner of the eye along the contour of the cheek. Another line goes from the center of the cheek, and this line curves upwards towards the first line wt the base of the ear.
The forehead is also barred. There is a special "Scarab Beetle" mark on the forehead (tabby cats usually have an M-mark). If you look at it closely, it really looks a lot like a scarab beetle with its legs reaching down on the forehead. (I think the photo of Qetesh below shows this well). The scarab Kheper was a symbol of the rising sun, and so the connection to the fact that the ancient Egyptian cats were considered solar animals is quite logical.
The eyes should be large, round, alert, slightly slanted (almond-shaped) towards the base of the ear. This particular angle together with the nose being even length from the eyes to the end of the nose create the "worried" or "troubled" look. When I painted the portrait of Qetesh, I had a really long look at the lines of the eyes, and to me it really is that slant of the eyes and the slight eyebrow that created the slightly troubled expression (which can be quite endearing). This troubled look does not look like the cat is scared but more like deep in its thoughts.
The skull aperitures should not be totally round nor oriental.
The color of the eyes is a thing of its
own. It should always be a light, bright gooseberry green color with
distinctive mascara lines.
Amber hue is acceptable in kittens and young adults up to 18 months of age, if there is some green in the eyes at eight months of age (usually the green begins to show as a green ring around the iris at first). The color may lessen with age, but the eyes still keep their beautiful expression.
The ears of an Egyptian Mau are medium to large in size, broad at the base and with ample width between the ears. The ears rest well back in the head, slightly flared. They are moderately pointed and should have an alert expression. The ears should continue the planes of the head. The hair on the ears is short, close lying but may have tufts. The color of the inner ear is a translucent shell pink.
Now here's a cat breed that can have a rather "toothy smile" when young. The reason is that they do not lose their primary teeth until their permanent teeth have come. And so, at four to seven months of age the cat may actually have two sets of teeth.
The hind legs are longer than the front legs, and this gives the Maus an impression of standing on tiptoe. Still the legs should be in proportion to the body and the walk should be even. The feet are small, almost dainty and slightly oval.
A special breed characteristic is a loose skin fold or flap under their bellies that reaches to the hing leg knee - much like a cheetah. This flap can be so loose that it hides the hind feet when the cat sits on its haunches. It give the back legs the opportunity to stretch further backwards, which again makes fast running easier. This flap also makes leaping easier for the cat.
The tail of Egyptian Mau cats is of medium length, it should be thick at the base and taper slightly towards the tip. It should not be whippy. The tail should be heavily banded ("brush marks") and have a dark tip. On top of the tail a stripe runs from the dorsal stripe to the tip.
Thank you, Dawn Muddeman, Ruth Perkins and Jesica Bogg for allowing me to use the photos of your beautiful Maus in this article.
Here you see a gouache painting of a beautiful silver Mau girl Qetesh. If you wish to see the painting up close and read her story, click on the picture or HERE.
Does a beautiful mau grace your home? Click here to share pics and the story of your cat, and read what others have written.