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History of EGYPTIAN MAU 

Lisa Root

Copyright  July 19. 2003

Egyptian Mau Breeders

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History of an Ancient Beauty,

The Egyptian Mau dates back over 3000 years. The Egyptian Mau is perhaps the oldest of all domestic cats and one of only two naturally spotted breeds still in existence (the other being the Bahraini Dilmun Cat). The Mau is most likely the descendant of the African Wild Cat (Felis lyica ocreata.) The domestication of the Mau occurred sometime between 4000 and 2000 BC.

Egyptians very quickly saw the value of the Mau. They used them initially to hunt and retrieve birds. It is very common to see pictures of cats in marshes with birds in their mouths. The oldest images of cats in ancient Egypt are hieroglyphs carved on a temple wall found to the south of Cairo dated around 2200 BC.

Around 2000 BC and on, the Mau started to hold a great importance in religion and was worshiped as a god. The Mau represented almost every aspect of their life. They were represented by over twenty some gods and goddess that were catlike figures.

Many cat cults, like the cult of Bastet, appeared during this time. They continued in to the Roman occupation around 330 AD.

When a cat died in Egypt the body was mummified and entombed. The family of the deceased cat shaved their Eye brows as a sign of mourning. If a cat was ever harmed during this time it was an offense punishable by death.

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Luna and Seti

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Nile Blue Prince of Fire

Modern Gods

During World War lithe Mau faced extinction. The Mau was soon saved by the exiled Russian princess, Nathalie Troubetskoy. The efforts of the Princess brought the Mau back from the edge of extinction.

One day, while she was staying in Italy, a young boy gave her a silver spotted female kitten that he had been keeping in a shoe box. The kitten had been given to the boy by a diplomat working in the Middle East. Troubetskoy strived to learn more about the kitten. Her research lead her to conclude that the kitten was an Egyptian Mau. Troubetskoy became determined to save the Mau.

She rescued some of the remaining Maus, and using her political connections, she obtained several more through the Syrian embassy. Her first Maus were Gregorio, a black male, and Lulu, a silver female, and Geppa, a smoke male. In 1956, Troubetskoy and three Maus a silver female Fatima Baba, a bronze male Fatima Jojo, and the third was apparently never bred, immigrated to the United States. Once there, Troubetskoy established her Fatima Cattery and promoted the breed. Many modern Maus can trace their ancestry back to Troubetskoy’s cats.

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It is thought that Troubetskoy used outside cats as a source of out crossing to begin with during this period, although not documented, to insure the health of the breed. Only three colors of Mau are in early pedigrees, Silver, Bronze and Smoke. Although there had to be blacks during this period because of the Smoke, none were ever recorded until some years later. There is some evidence that blues also occurred during this time, but like the black the blue wasn’t accepted for registration until recently in some associations so it makes it harder to track how far back or when they appeared. Some attribute the dilute and possibly the recessive classic tabby pattern gene to the out crosses used early on.

In the 1970s mans began to suffer again from the limited gene pool. Something had to be done. In 1980. Jean S. Mill, (Millwood cattery, currently a Bengal breeder) was contacted by a zoo in New Delhi, India. There was a cat running loose in the rhino pen that had gotten its tail mostly severed. She saved the cat (Millwood Toby in CVA and Millwood Tory of Delhi) a bronze male,  along with another bronze female (Millwood Tashi) and created the “Indian lines”. These cats introduced the glitter gene, improved the health, improved the clarity and contrast of spotting and produced a richer rufousing in the bronze. This opened the registries for imports to he accepted.

In the 1980s. Cathie Rowan (Rocat ) succeeded in bringing thirteen mans into America, paving the way for more imports. In the early 1090’s, J. Len Davidson (Grandtrill) brought in four more Maus from Egypt. These cats were Grandtrill Giza, Grandtrill Wafaya, Grandtrill Hosny, and GrandtrillAlexandria, all bronze. These cats produced the “Egyptian” Lines. These lines are larger than the other two lines.  They produce much bigger litters, are extremely intelligent and have greatly increased the gene pool. 

The most recent import was Fondcombe’s Sahourê. He was imported from Egypt to France by Marie-Christine Hallepee in 1999.

The imports we see today in the Egyptian Mau are taken directly off the streets of Egypt and India. So their heritage remains unknown. They are essential to the breed to maintain the Mau’s health, vitality, and longevity. Had it not been for the efforts of the heroines who strived to save the dying breed, the Egyptian Mau would most likely be lost to us forever. 


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