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Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography
Alan Robinson, Animal Photography
The gentle Egyptian Mau is a feline track star. He has been clocked at 30 miles per hour and is possessed of what seem to be springs for legs, which catapult him to high places. He is the only domesticated cat with a naturally occurring spotted coat.
The lithe Egyptian Mau is the model/actress of the cat world, often striking poses on the judging table. His hind legs are longer than his front legs, giving him a characteristic tippy-toe stance.
If one were to be so gauche as to compare a cat to a dog, one might say that the lithe and agile Egyptian Mau is the Greyhound of the cat world. The strikingly spotted cat has been clocked at 30 miles per hour and has extraordinary leaping ability. He originated in Egypt, possibly descended from the African wild cat, and is the only domestic cat with a natural spotting pattern.
People began to selectively breed the cats in the 1950s, and the result is a muscular, medium-size cat of 7 to 9 pounds with a rounded, wedge-shaped head and almond-shaped eyes that are gooseberry green and have a somewhat worried expression.
The Egyptian Mau is gentle and reserved. He loves his people and desires attention and affection from them but is wary of others. Early, continuing socialization is essential, especially if you plan to show or travel with your Egyptian Mau. Otherwise, he can be easily startled by unexpected noises or events.
Like any cat, the Egyptian Mau is athletic and loves to climb — including onto your shoulder — and chase toys. He is smart and observant, quickly learning to open doors and drawers to get at what he wants, usually a favorite toy or treat. Maus communicate pleasure or enthusiasm in the form of a wagging tail and kneading paws, and may converse with you in a voice that chortles and trills.
Brush the Egyptian Mau weekly to keep his thick coat shiny and healthy. The only other grooming he needs is regular nail trimming and ear cleaning.
The Egyptian Mau is well suited to any home with people who will love him and care for him. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats, and attacks from other animals.
Cats were revered in Egypt for thousands of years and even elevated to goddesshood, a fact that they have never forgotten. The Egyptian Mau is thought to have originated in Egypt, a theory supported with research by feline geneticist Dr. Leslie Lyons, as well as archaeological evidence in the form of ancient artworks depicting heavily spotted cats with the same distinctive mascara markings and barring seen in today’s Mau. Possibly descended from the small African wild cat, this is the only domestic cat with a natural spotting pattern.
People began to selectively breed the cats in the 1950s. The first Egyptian Maus imported to the United States came from Italy by way of Russian princess Nathalie Troubetskoy. At first, breeders had a limited gene pool to draw from, which made it challenging to maintain the desired qualities of appearance and temperament, but recent imports have improved the situation.
The Cat Fanciers Association recognized the Mau in 1977, followed by The International Cat Association in 1979.
The Egyptian Mau is gentle and reserved. He loves his people and desires attention and affection from them but is wary of others. Early, continuing socialization is essential with this sensitive and sometimes shy cat, especially if you plan to show or travel with him. Otherwise, he can be easily startled by unexpected noises or events.
Like any cat, the Egyptian Mau is athletic and loves to climb — including onto your shoulder — and chase toys. He is smart and observant, quickly learning to open doors and drawers to get at what he wants, usually a favorite toy or treat. Maus communicate pleasure or enthusiasm with a wagging tail and kneading paws, and may converse with you in a voice that chortles and trills.
The Mau is highly intelligent. Challenge his brain by teaching him tricks and providing him with puzzle toys that will reward him with kibble or treats when he learns to manipulate them.
Always choose a kitten from a breeder who raises litters in her home and handles them from an early age. Meet at least one and ideally both of the parents to ensure that they have nice temperaments.
All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit diseases. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either untruthful or unknowledgeable about the breed. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
The Egyptian Mau is generally healthy, but one problem that may affect the breed is leuodystrophy, a neurological condition that may appear in kittens as early as 7 weeks of age. It is always wise to buy from a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping an Egyptian Mau at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health and help prevent arthritis in his senior years.
The Egyptian Mau has a medium-length coat. The texture of the fur varies depending on the cat’s color. Cats with smoke coloring have silky, fine fur. Cats with silver or bronze coloring have fur with a more dense, resilient texture. Brush the think coat weekly to keep it shiny and healthy.
The only other grooming the Egyptian Mau needs is regular nail trimming, usually weekly, and ear cleaning if the ears look dirty. Use a gentle cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Start brushing, nail trimming, and teeth brushing while your cat is still a kitten, and he will be accepting of these activities later on.
You want your Egyptian Mau to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him, so do your homework before you bring him home. For more information on the history, personality, and looks of the Egyptian Mau, or to find breeders and rescue resources, visit the websites of the Cat Fanciers Association, Cats Center Stage, the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and The International Cat Association.
Put at least as much effort into researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
A reputable breeder will abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers and outlines the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises kittens in the home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish and may be difficult to socialize later in life.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your feline friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy kittens.
Be patient. Depending on what you are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten to become available. Many breeders won't release kittens to new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Before you buy a kitten, consider whether an adult Egyptian Mau might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.
The Egyptian Mau is an unusual and uncommon breed. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes a pedigreed cat ends up at a shelter after losing his home to an owner’s death, divorce, or change in economic situation.
Here are some tips to help you find and adopt the right cat from a rescue group or shelter.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Egyptian Mau in your area in no time. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Egyptian Maus available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Some newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a cat. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with pet pros in your area about your desire for a Egyptian Mau. That includes vets, cat sitters, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a cat, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a cat that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Egyptian Maus love all Egyptian Maus. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless cats. Start with the CFA Egyptian Mau Breed Council or the Fanciers Breeder Referral List. You can also search online for other Egyptian Mau rescues in your area.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a cat. These include:
Wherever you acquire your Egyptian Mau, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with pet lemon laws, be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and recourses.
Kitten or adult, take your Egyptian Mau to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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