Egyptian Mau: The Mysterious, Naturally-Occurring Spotted Cats

Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Who doesn’t love the cheetah? Their spotted coat and amazing agility are the envy of many. These big cats are quite shy and not as much of a pack animal as lions are, but that just makes them look cuter and more capable in our eyes. If you’ve always dreamed of living with a cheetah yet that’s not quite possible because of how dangerous these wildcats can be, we’ve got the next best option right here: the Egyptian Mau.

The Egyptian Mau’s spotted coat gives the cat an exotic, predatory look. Of course, the Mau is a domesticated cat with no intention whatsoever of preying on their beloved owner. Nonetheless, these cats are exceptional athletes just like the cheetah—able to leap up into the air and to execute some amazing twists and turns. Records tell us that this amazing cat has even clocked in speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.

Black and white image of an Egyptian-Mau with green eyes

They are kind of mysterious; no one’s really sure whether they really came from Egypt or not, but one thing’s for sure: these cats make loyal companions. Although it might take a while before they would warm up to you, once they do, the two of you will be inseparable.

In this article, we’re going to make sure that you know everything you need to about this unusual spotted cat—from Egyptian Mau characteristics to their exceptional athletic moves to their loyal and devoted nature. We will also explain more about Egyptian Mau lifespan and how to ensure that they enjoy excellent health while in your care.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Average
  • Grooming: Low Maintenance
  • Health: Good
  • All Around Friendliness: Good, but not towards strangers
  • Exercise Needs: Active and requires daily exercise
Cat Breed GroupShort Haired, Natural Breed
SizeSmall to Medium
Weight6 to 14 pounds
Lifespan9-15 years

One of the many fascinating aspects of the Egyptian Mau is that no one is 100% certain that these cats did actually originate in Egypt. Yes, they certainly resemble the spotted cats depicted on the walls of palaces and temples in Egypt, but DNA analysis suggests that the cat may very well be from Europe.

The kittens are adaptable to new homes and new situations and as your Mau matures, they will become attached to their family, and may even develop special feelings for just one member of the family. Older Maus, however, don’t adjust easily to new owners; they don’t take kindly to having to build a new relationship all over again. Older Maus may need an adjustment period where the cat can slowly ‘get a feel’ for their new owner.

Egyptian-Mau_cat sitting up on a wooden floor

The Mau’s distinctive short coat has round and irregularly shaped dots; the exotic looking feline’s forehead also has a, ‘M’ shaped marking on it. The medium-sized, athletic cat has 3 shades which are competition-approved—bronze, silver, and smoke. However, these cats actually come in other beautiful shades too, such as black, blue smoke, blue silver, blue spotted, and blue Egyptian Maus. Cats with these particular colors, however, aren’t permitted to enter shows as they aren’t looked upon as ‘champion-status.’

Egyptian Maus are loving and friendly towards their human families, but they’re not going to be overly friendly with other people and their pets. This intriguing, exotic-looking cat is a possessive feline who likes to be in control. Unless you particularly set out to socialize them with other pets while they are still a kitten, the Egyptian Mau may have issues accepting other pets into their household.

Egyptian-Mau kitten lying on a blanket in bed

These felines are certainly a little bit different from your average cat. For example, Egyptian Maus have a longer pregnancy period than other cats. Your average cat will deliver her kittens after roughly 65 days whereas the Mau can take an additional 10 days to give birth to her brood. There is a loose flap of skin which runs from the flanks of this unusual cat to their hind legs, and this is what provides this cat with an awesome range of movement.

Main Highlights

  • These wonderful cats are believed to be descendants of a subspecies of the African wildcat. Today, they are widely acknowledged as unique cats—being the only domestic cat with a naturally-occurring spotted pattern.
  • The spots are a signature trait of the breed. If you look at the coat of a Mau, you will notice that there is a startling amount of variety in the shape of the dot markings, but the spots are always bright and distinct.
  • If you love a playful cat, you won’t be disappointed with the Mau. Because of their links to wild cats, they like to slink along the ground and pounce on their ‘prey’—be that a leaf blowing in the wind, a bird, a mouse, or a toy.
  • Your Mau is an intelligent feline. By watching you, they could even learn how to open drawers or doors.
  • This breed also loves water—another unusual characteristic. A dripping tap may lead to your Mau working out how to turn the faucet on and off to adjust the water so they can splash around in it just for the sheer fun of it.
  • It is the Egyptian Mau’s intelligence which makes the cat an excellent companion for older children. They love the more complicated games that older children will involve them with. The Mau is a cat that gets along well with younger children too. Give them some time to get used to your presence, and they will get along with anyone who treats them with respect.

Breed History

The Egyptian Mau is a natural breed. The Egyptian Mau is the only naturally spotted domesticated cat there is. Human beings haven’t had any part in manipulating the cat’s genes. Mystery surrounds the origins of this ancient breed; some people suggest the cat came from Egypt while others say Europe. Certainly, before World War II, the legendary cat enjoyed popularity in Europe, but the war itself wreaked damage on the cat’s population, and there were concerns for the cat’s future.

By the end of the war, the Egyptian Mau was in danger of extinction, but a number of breeders took steps to preserve breeding stock. You can say that the real history of the modern Egyptian Mau began in the early 1950s in Italy, where an exiled Russian princess, Natalie Troubetsky, secured some Maus.

Egyptian-Mau kitten playing outside

In 1956, she immigrated to the United States with 3 cats; these were used as the start of her cattery. In 1958, she registered her cattery as Fatima. These rare cats from the Princess’s line developed a devoted following, and as a result, many other catteries dedicated to breeding the Egyptian Mau popped up. These catteries played a part in promoting the breed.

The cats from the Princess’s lines are known as ‘traditionals.’ These cats have been mixed with the ‘Indian’ line to produce cats with exceptional bodies and coats. The breed was recognized in 1968 by the Cat Fanciers Federation and in 1977 by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. Today, the breed is recognized by most cat associations.


The Egyptian Mau is a medium-sized cat. They are an athletic, predatory feline. Their body is long and graceful, and the cat’s hind legs are somewhat longer than their front legs—giving the cat the ability to leap up onto high perches. Their paws are smallish, reminding one of a cheetah. The cat’s tail is medium length—tapering from a broad base to a rounded tip. The cat can reach a length of 2 feet; their standard weight is 10 pounds.

Personality and Character

Egyptian Mau personality is playful; they love their family. They tend to form a strong bond with one member of the family. They are highly intelligent; this is why they make such excellent pets where the children are slightly older. Older children are full of tricks and games, and the Egyptian Mau laps this all up.

Another unique characteristic of the Mau is that this is one cat that doesn’t mind being leashed. It means you can even take your feline friend for a walk. It’s a great way to exercise an indoors MauThe Mau is an active cat who wants to be an integral part of the family. That is why it’s not a wise move to leave your Egyptian Mau on their own for hours on end. If it becomes necessary, make sure you leave them with some stimulating toys.

Studio image of the-egyptian-mau-cat

They thrive on attention from their human family, and this is why they make such good show cats. They thrive on the preparation and the grooming—demanding that they be the center of attention, which they most often are. Early socialization is, however, essential if you plan to groom your Egyptian Mau into show cats. Egyptian Mau temperament leans towards the jumpy side, especially in an unfamiliar environment. They are easily startled and thrown off balance by unexpected noises.

The Mau isn’t a talkative cat, but they will often want to express their pleasure when you treat them well and with respect. You’ll hear them chortling with contentment. In fact, the Mau has a range of unique noises to ‘voice’ their pleasure or discontent.

Health and Potential Problems

The Egyptian Mau is generally a healthy cat—enhanced by their athletic build and their love of exercise, fun, and games. The breed does, however, tend to be prone to a congenital disease known as Leukodystrophy or Krabbe disease.

The cat may suffer from progressive degeneration of the nervous system; the disease usually starts at about 2 months of age. You will want to be sure that your kitten comes from a reputable breeder and that a reliable vet has checked the kitten out before adopting them to make sure they are free from the threats of the disease.

close-up of an egyptian-mau-cat lying down

Other than the Krabbe disease, there are a few other potential health problems that you will want to be careful of. These issues are common in cats, and regular vet checks are recommended to keep your feline safe from them.

  • Cancer isn’t as common in cats as it is with dogs, but one of the most common cancers seen in cats is lymphoma. This disease is associated with the feline leukemia virus. Check your Mau over from time to time so you will be aware of sudden weight loss, difficulty with swallowing, changes in bowel movements, or sores that don’t heal.
  • Diabetes—the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar levels—is becoming more common in cats. If you don’t treat your Mau, you’ll notice weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, and depression. Death can also occur. Don’t allow your Mau to go untreated. If you suspect diabetes, get your Mau to the vet ASAP. There are blood and urine tests that can put your mind at rest as to whether your feline friend has diabetes or not.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) can sometimes be mistaken for FeLV in cats as the symptoms are very similar. They are, however, 2 completely different cat diseases albeit with both affecting the cat’s immune system. FIV is transmitted through bites from animals which are infected, but it can also be passed down from a mother cat to her kittens. Symptoms include eye infections, loss of fur, weight loss, and fever. Take your cat to the vet who may suggest that your cat be neutered or spayed.
  • Heartworm is caused by an infestation of an organism known as Dirofilaria immitis—a roundworm parasite. Outdoor cats are always at an increased risk and are far more likely to contract a parasite as compared to indoor cats. You’ll notice raspy breathing from your Mau and even some vomiting. This heartworm is spread by mosquito bites carrying infective heartworm larvae. Many vets these days recommend heartworm preventives for cats.
  • Renal failure is mostly associated with older cats, but you also get kittens who are born with weakened kidneys. Infections and trauma can bring about renal failure. Fortunately, if it is detected early, the prognosis is good for your furry friend. However, acute renal failure can happen if your pet ingests something poisonous. Certainly as your cat ages—and especially as they grow older than seven years of age—you will want to have them checked out more regularly for renal failure.

Having said all that, your Egyptian Mau is generally a healthy cat; the diseases mentioned above are not likely to be a part of your pet’s life. With plenty of good, nutritious food, as well as lots of love and exercise, your Egyptian Mau can live beyond their expected 14 or 15 years of age. Also, you should always vaccinate your Egyptian Mau against all common infectious feline diseases, such as the cat flu, feline infectious enteritis, and rabies.

Care Features

The Egyptian Mau is a striking cat breed, and it pays to find a reputable breeder so that your pet lives up to everything that the Egyptian Mau represents—namely, beauty, health, and energy.

The Egyptian Mau’s coat is short, and this makes them a low maintenance cat. Nonetheless, you will still want to brush your cat’s coat every other day as this helps to remove loose hair. Regular brushing also builds up a bond between you and your cat, and it also helps spread natural oils over the hair. This greatly enhances that silky gleam associated with the breed.

Egyptian-Mau-sitting up on-the-wooden-floo

Get into the habit of brushing your cat’s teeth from an early age so that they will be comfortable with it as an older cat. Special pet toothpaste and brushes are available today. Avoid human toothpastes at all costs as the high fluoride content can be toxic to your cat. The only other grooming your beautiful Egyptian Mau requires is regular nail trimming (for your furniture’s sake). Also, check their ears and eyes for cleaning.

Feeding Schedule

You will have to ensure that your cat doesn’t become overweight. The reason for this is that just like with us humans, being overweight predisposes us and your cat to health problems such as diabetes. If you’ve spoken to your vet about an excellent food type for your Mau, next, you will have to make sure you feed them according to the portion guidelines on the packaging.

Egyptian-Mau-sitting up on-the carpet floor

Your Egyptian Mau will want a high quality, protein-rich food. Many cat owners jeopardize their cat’s health by not understanding the importance of a pet’s dietary needs. Cats are carnivorous, and they will require foods that are high in protein with a good mix of vitamins and minerals, but not too many carbs.

Steer clear of those pet food brands that mix in grains. These lower the standard of the food and put your precious kitty cat at risk of putting on the pounds. Speak to your vet about the difference between wet and dry foods and what could be the best choice for your beloved Mau; typically, mixing up the two is the best way to go. Remember to always prepare a bowl of fresh drinking water for your cat.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

We’ve already mentioned that the Mau’s most striking characteristic is their beautiful spotted coat. Taking care of your Egyptian Mau is easy. Brushing their coat twice a week should be enough to keep your Mau in tip-top shape.

Egyptian_Mau_sitting and looking behind

Because the Mau is a moderate shedder, the cat is actually able to contend with a lot of their own grooming needs. But they always welcome that extra human involvement to keep them shiny and sleek, and to prevent an excessive formation of hairballs in their system.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Some things just naturally work well together, and one of these include older children and your Egyptian Mau. That’s not to say that your Mau won’t get on with younger children—it’s just that they are such an intelligent cat that they love the more complicated games older children can provide them with.

Unfortunately, as the Egyptian Mau is rather territorial and set in their ways, they may need some time to acclimate themselves to other pets; some more stubborn Maus will even reject the presence of other pets in the household full stop.

Studio image of an Egyptian-Mau cat lying down

If you’re planning to bring a Mau into a household that already has a resident pet, introduce your Mau slowly, and be prepared for just that little bit of conflict. Your feisty Mau likes to let other cats know that they are always in charge, so it would be best if your resident pet is the type that’s mild-mannered and doesn’t mind letting other cats take the spotlight.

Wrap Up

Your Egyptian Mau is something special indeed. They are fairly self-sufficient, but when the Egyptian Mau lands in a home where they are welcomed, loved, and properly cared for, they will be joyful and devoted to you throughout every season of their life.

Close-up of an Egyptian Mau cat hunting some birds

Are you ready to welcome his royal highness the Egyptian Mau into your life? If you’re not prepared to make your cat the number one priority in your life, then Egyptian Maus may not be quite right for you. Don’t worry, because spotted and wild-looking cats come in more than one variety. Why not share your thoughts about the Mau with us? We’d love to hear if you share the same positive thoughts about this unique spotted breed that we have.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.