Grey Egyptian Mau cat sitting on cement ground

Egyptian Mau Cat Care and Personality | What You Need to Know If You’re Thinking of Getting an Egyptian Mau Cat

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Key Takeaways

  • Egyptian Mau cats are believed to have descended from domestic cats in ancient Egypt.
  • Their spotted coat is one of their most striking features.
  • They are active and playful, but also affectionate.
  • They are relatively healthy and have a lifespan of 12–15 years.
  • Their ideal owner is someone who can keep up with their energy.

Do you want an active yet affectionate cat? If so, the Egyptian Mau might be the perfect match for you. Steeped in history, this captivating breed boasts a lineage possibly dating back to the revered cats of ancient Egyptian times. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the world of Egyptian Mau cats, particularly their rich history, unique physical features, and vibrant personalities.

Whether you’re considering bringing one of these spotted wonders into your home or simply curious about this fascinating breed, read on to discover everything you need to know about Egyptian Mau cat care and personality.

Brief History

The Egyptian Mau cat is a breed steeped in history, with its lineage possibly dating back to the cats depicted in ancient Egyptian temples and halls. The term “mau” is actually derived from the ancient Egyptian word for cat.

Historical evidence suggests that the Egyptian Mau may have descended from domestic cats that lived in ancient Egypt around 1900 BCE. Cats with similar spotted markings were often featured in Egyptian art, indicating their domestic presence and close relationship with humans. They were also associated with the goddess Bastet, symbolizing protection and motherhood, which further cemented their importance in Egyptian society.

In addition, Egyptians recognized their value as skilled hunters, employing them to control rodent populations and protect precious stores of grain. Depictions of spotted cats with a striking resemblance to the Egyptian Mau grace the walls of tombs and temples, dating as far back as 1550 BC. These artistic representations often portray the Egyptian Mau engaged in hunting activities, a testament to their working partnership with humans.

Beyond their practical role, the Egyptian Mau cat held a special place in Egyptian religion. From around 2000 BC onwards, cats began to be associated with deities. The sun god Ra, for instance, was sometimes depicted as a giant spotted cat, further solidifying the feline’s sacred status. Sadly, with the decline of ancient Egyptian civilization, the breed’s exact history becomes less clear.

The modern history of the Egyptian Mau cat is equally fascinating. The breed’s survival was threatened during World War II, but it experienced a revival thanks to the efforts of a Russian-born nurse living in Rome in the 1950s. Nathalie Troubetskoy was instrumental in perpetuating the breed after being gifted a silver-spotted kitten that reportedly came from an embassy in Rome. This event marked the beginning of the breed’s resurgence and eventual spread to other parts of the world.

The Egyptian Mau cat’s journey to championship status began in 1968, when it first received recognition from the Cat Fanciers Federation. This acclaim was followed by subsequent acknowledgments from the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1977 and The International Cat Association in 1979.

By the 1990s, breeders had emerged in North America, Europe, and Japan, spreading the Egyptian Mau cat’s popularity across continents. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that the Egyptian Mau graced British shores. This momentous occasion occurred eight years after it garnered full recognition from the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), marking a significant milestone in its global presence.

Classic Egyptian Mau cat loafing on a stone surface
Image Credit: Joseph Hill / Flickr

Physical Features

Egyptian Mau cats boast a unique and elegant appearance that embodies their athletic prowess. While medium-sized, they are surprisingly muscular, typically weighing between 6 and 14 pounds, with a height of 8 to 14 inches and a length of up to 16 inches.

They are built for agility and can reach impressive speeds of up to 30 miles per hour! Their athleticism is further accentuated by their long, lean bodies and hind legs that are slightly longer than their forelegs, giving them a graceful, almost cheetah-like gait.

One of the Egyptian Mau cat’s most striking features is their coat. Unlike many spotted breeds, this breed’s spots are a natural occurrence, not the result of breeding. These “spotted-tabby” markings, known as ticking, come in a wide array of colors recognized by cat associations. Show cats will typically sport a silver, bronze, or smoke base coat adorned with distinct, elongated spots that run down their spine in a pattern known as “mascara stripes.” 

Adding to their captivating gaze are their large, expressive eyes, which come in a shade of gooseberry green. Their forehead also features an “M” marking, and their face is accentuated with “mascara” lines starting at the corner of the eyes and sweeping along the cheeks.

However, the Egyptian Mau is not considered hypoallergenic. While no cat is truly hypoallergenic, some breeds produce less Fel d 1 protein, a common allergen in cat dander. Unfortunately, this feline’s short, dense coat means they shed regularly, potentially causing issues for allergy sufferers.

Light grey Egyptian Mau cat sitting, with a sky blue background
Image Credit: Soon Koon / Flickr


Egyptian Mau cats are known for their intelligence and loyalty, often forming strong bonds with their chosen human companions. They are not lap cats in the strictest sense, but they do enjoy cuddling and spending quality time with their loved ones on their own terms.

Don’t be surprised if your Mau greets you at the door or follows you around the house, chirping and chatting in their unique vocal repertoire. These vocalizations are a far cry from the typical meow and instead resemble a delightful mix of chirps, trills, and chortles.

While undeniably affectionate, these felines retain a certain degree of independence. They’re curious and enjoy exploring their environment, so providing them with enrichment activities and climbing structures is essential.

Their athletic prowess means they have a high energy level and require plenty of playtime to burn off steam. As such, interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and even leash training can be a great way to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

These intelligent felines are also quick learners and can even be taught to fetch or walk on a leash with positive reinforcement training. However, their independent streak means they may not always be receptive to commands. Patience and positive reinforcement are key when training an Egyptian Mau.

On the other hand, while some cat breeds can be wary of children, Egyptian Mau cats can thrive in homes with respectful youngsters. Early socialization is important, and children should be taught proper handling techniques to ensure a harmonious relationship.

However, due to their strong prey drive, they may not be the best fit for homes with small rodents or birds, although they can potentially coexist with other cats and dog breeds, especially if introduced properly at a young age.

Health Issues & Lifespan

Egyptian Mau cats are considered a relatively healthy breed. They boast an average lifespan of 12–15 years, and many thrive well into their senior years. However, like all breeds, they do have some predispositions that potential owners should be aware of.

  • Cystitis. This is an inflammation of the urinary bladder. It’s part of a group of diseases known as feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD), which can cause frequent and painful attempts to urinate, sometimes with blood present.
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK-Def). This is an inherited condition that affects red blood cells and can lead to anemia. Fortunately, a simple blood test can identify PK-Def, allowing breeders to screen breeding stock and minimize the prevalence of the condition.
  • Feline Asthma. This condition arises from irritants and allergies, leading to sensitive and inflamed lungs and airways. Symptoms may include labored breathing, coughing, and wheezing.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a heart condition that causes the heart muscles to thicken abnormally, potentially leading to weakened cardiac function. This condition can be particularly insidious, as some cats may not exhibit any outward signs until the disease has progressed.

Other health concerns in Egyptian Mau cats include urinary tract issues, including the formation of stones in the bladder or kidneys (urolithiasis). This condition can be particularly problematic in males, as urinary stones can become lodged and obstruct their ability to urinate.

In this regard, regular veterinary checkups are essential for Egyptian Mau cats. These exams allow your veterinarian to identify any potential health concerns early on, when they are often easier and less expensive to manage. In addition to routine checkups, keeping your Egyptian Mau on a high-quality diet, providing ample opportunities for exercise, and maintaining a clean litter box can all contribute to a long and healthy life.

Egyptian Mau cat sitting, with a black background
Image Credit: Andreas-photography / Flickr

Special Care Needs

The Egyptian Mau cat’s captivating looks are matched by their energetic personalities. To thrive in your home, these spotted athletes require some specific care considerations.


Egyptian Mau cats are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their short, single coat sheds moderately and requires minimal brushing. Once a week will suffice to remove loose hair and prevent mats. This breed is meticulous by nature and does a good job of keeping themselves clean. However, occasional wipe-downs of their eyes and ears with a damp cloth can help prevent any buildup.

Exercise and Playtime

Unlike some cats that are content with lounging, Egyptian Maus are natural-born athletes. Their ancestors likely honed their skills hunting alongside humans in ancient Egypt, which translates to a modern Egyptian Mau with a boundless supply of energy and a need for regular exercise.

To keep your Egyptian Mau cat happy and prevent boredom-induced mischief, plan on daily playtime sessions. Interactive toys that mimic hunting, like feather wands or puzzle feeders, are ideal for stimulating their instincts. Also, provide puzzle toys that challenge their intelligence, and rotate them regularly to keep things interesting.

Consider clicker training to teach them tricks. They’re surprisingly intelligent, and they enjoy the mental challenge. Vertical space is another must-have. Invest in a tall cat tree with sturdy scratching posts to allow your Egyptian Mau cat to climb, perch, and survey their domain.

In addition, unlike most cats, Egyptian Maus can be surprisingly drawn to water. Some may even enjoy a shallow dish of water for splashing or a gentle drizzle from the faucet. While not all Egyptian Maus will be water enthusiasts, offering these options can provide additional enrichment and hydration.


Unlike some felines who are content to be solitary, Egyptian Mau cats enjoy spending time with their people. They may follow you around the house, seeking your company and interaction. Don’t be surprised if they nudge your hand or meow to remind you that it’s playtime or cuddle time. They also tend to bond strongly with one person, but they can be affectionate with other members of the household as well.

They can be independent and enjoy their own company for short periods of time. However, if you lead a busy lifestyle and are rarely home, this breed may not be the best fit. Alternatively, you may want to consider getting another cat to keep your Egyptian Mau company while you’re away.

Special Care

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in the care of these cats. A high-quality, protein-rich diet supports the Egyptian Mau cat’s active lifestyle, but it’s essential to monitor their food intake to prevent obesity, which can lead to joint issues and other health complications.

In addition, they thrive in warm environments. Ensure they have a cozy spot away from drafts where they can bask and stay comfortable.

Brown Egyptian Mau cat sitting
Image Credit: vagabondblogger / Flickr

Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts to add to your Egyptian Mau knowledge:

  • In 1956, Nathalie Troubetskoy emigrated to the USA, bringing along three Egyptian Maus: two silver females named Fatima Baba and Liza, along with Baba’s bronze son named Fatima Jojo (also known as Giorgio, offspring of Gregorio and Fatima Baba). These cats served as the cornerstone of her cattery, named Fatima.
  • Their spotted coat patterns resemble those depicted in hieroglyphics, leading some to believe they may be direct descendants of the cats revered in ancient Egypt.
  • These spotted sprinters can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, making them the fastest domestic cat breed. Their long, powerful legs and unique belly flap (similar to a cheetah’s) contribute to their remarkable speed.
  • While some cats are known for their silence, the Egyptian Mau is a chatterbox! They possess a wide range of vocalizations beyond the typical meow, including chirps, trills, and even a sound likened to goose honking. These vocalizations are their way of communicating with their humans.

Who is the Ideal Owner of the Egyptian Mau Cat?

The Egyptian Mau cat’s captivating looks and playful personality are undeniably charming. But before welcoming one of these spotted wonders into your home, consider if your lifestyle aligns with their needs. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

  • Active Individuals: These energetic cats crave playtime and exercise. If you enjoy interactive games with your feline companion and can provide many opportunities to climb and explore, an Egyptian Mau will thrive in your active household.
  • Apartment dwellers (with reservations):  While Egyptian Mau cats can adapt to apartment living, it’s important to provide vertical space with tall cat trees and scratching posts. Daily playtime sessions are essential to channel their energy and prevent boredom-induced mischief.
  • Singles or families with older children: Egyptian Mau cats tend to bond strongly with one person but can be affectionate with other members of the household as well. They may not be the best fit for busy families with young children, as their playful exuberance could be overwhelming for small kids.
  • Multi-cat households: If you work long hours, consider getting another cat to keep your Egyptian Mau company while you’re away. Social interaction helps prevent loneliness and provides an outlet for their playful energy.
  • Respectful cat owners: These intelligent cats respond well to positive reinforcement training. Patience and understanding are key when interacting with an Egyptian Mau, as they can be vocal and express themselves quite clearly.

Final Thoughts

The Egyptian Mau cat is not only a stunning addition to any household but also a delightful companion known for their intelligence, athleticism, and affectionate nature. From their ancient Egyptian roots to their modern-day presence as cherished pets, Egyptian Maus continue to captivate cat enthusiasts around the world.

By understanding their specific care needs and unique personality traits, prospective owners can ensure a fulfilling and harmonious relationship with these remarkable felines. Whether you’re a seasoned cat owner or embarking on your first feline journey, the Egyptian Mau offers a rewarding companionship experience like no other.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Egyptian Mau cat?

The Egyptian Mau is a small to medium-sized, short-haired domestic cat breed known for its spotted coat and athletic prowess.

What is the history of Egyptian Mau cats?

While some believe they may be descended from the ancient Egyptian cats revered as deities, the modern Egyptian Mau breed was developed in the mid-20th century through selective breeding programs.

What are the characteristics of Egyptian Mau cats?

These intelligent and vocal cats are energetic and playful, requiring plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. They form strong bonds with their humans and crave attention.

What does an Egyptian Mau cat look like?

Egyptian Maus have a spotted coat with markings on the tips of the fur. They possess a wedge-shaped head, almond-shaped eyes, and a long, muscular body with prominent shoulder blades.

What are the Egyptian Mau cat’s colors?

Their coat comes in various colors, including silver, bronze, smoke, black, caramel, and blue/pewter, with silver being the most common.

How big do Egyptian Mau cats get?

They are considered a small to medium-sized breed, typically weighing between 6 and 14 pounds.

Are Egyptian Mau cats hypoallergenic?

No. No cat breed is truly hypoallergenic, but Egyptian Maus are considered a low-shedding breed, which may be helpful for those with mild allergies.

How long do Egyptian Mau cats live?

With proper care, Egyptian Mau cats can have a lifespan of 12–15 years.

What is the personality of an Egyptian Mau cat?

These are loyal, intelligent, and playful cats who enjoy interacting with their humans. They are known for their vocal nature and can be quite chatty.

Are Egyptian Mau cats friendly?

Yes, Egyptian Maus can be very friendly with their families, especially those who can provide them with attention and playtime.

Are Egyptian Mau cats rare?

Yes, Egyptian Mau cats are a rare breed and can be quite expensive to purchase from a reputable breeder.

How much are Egyptian Mau cats?

Expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $2,500 or more for an Egyptian Mau kitten, depending on the pedigree and breeder.

Featured Image Credit: Liz West / Flickr

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