WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF EGYPTIAN MAUS

Welcome to the wonderful and exciting world of the Egyptian Mau Cat.   It seems that the first domesticated cat is in fact indigenous to Egypt. There is evidence that the majority of the world´s cats can trace their ancestry to an Egyptian cat. No cat has ever been so honored and revered as the Egyptian Mau.

 

Dedicated Egyptian Mau breeders have put their hearts and souls into keeping this minority breed with a viable gene pool through their established and imported lines and years of hard work. These dedicated breeders do not do it for the monetary gain or the show wins but for the overall love of a cat that is truly unique and beautiful.

 

It is a credit to the breed committee’s in each organization that have kept the standard true to the original and to continue to strive to meet the standards of the breed.

 

The Original Egyptian Mau was a much more larger and substantial cat than you see today.    Male cats can still be a large cat and in no way is the Mau a small fragile cat but a cat of extreme elegance.

 

One has to wonder if it was not the ancient gods, who gave the Mau the gooseberry green eyes that seem to hold all the knowledge of the ancients and all the mystery of the universe.  The Mau has five important features of the breed:  gooseberry green eyes, brow line, characteristic eye set that gives the breed a natural worried look, the flap of skin extending from the posterior end of the ribcage to the hind leg, which lends the Mau an uncanny leaping ability and makes the breed capable of great bursts of speed. The final unique attribute is the "tiptoe" stance given by the hind legs being proportionally longer than the front legs. This stance lends a graceful look of elegance to the Mau.

Accepted in three colors – smoke, bronze and silver.  It is the only natural spotted cat.  All Mau’s have a regal bearing.  Each breed has their own merits and personalities that set them apart, but none as much as the Egyptian Mau. The Mau has always been unique in each and every way.

 

It is not hard to imagine their importance in the Egyptian society.  They were put in high regards by Egyptians and were often times seen in portraits beside the king and queen in a high place of honor. 

 

They are mystical beyond the worldly realm and have a universal soul. 

 

Cats have been the protagonists of myths and legends from all over the world. Some have worshipped them, some have condemned them, and today people are idolizing them again, though maybe not with that fervor of the Ancient Egyptians.

 

Bast, like Sekhmet was often said to be the daughter of Ra, and she was the protector of cats and those who took care of cats; her gifts were joy and pleasure. Legends of cats have origins in ancient Egypt. The cat was revered in ancient Egypt, and has been credited for having a connection to other realms. In Bubastis, cats were thought to be a goddess incarnate and were treated as such. This goddess is often represented as a cat, and indeed, many ancient Egyptians believed that domesticated cats represented this goddess of fertility and protection. Therefore cats in ancient Egypt had privileges that other household pets did not... including the freedom to come and go at will.  However, the belief in cats being able to "see" beyond this world has similarities. The ancient Egyptians were respectful towards the animals that shared their world and associated many of them with deities or positive human characteristics. However, no animal was held in such esteem as the cat. Cats were closely connected to a number of gods and goddesses, and there is evidence that they were considered to be demi-gods in their own right. As an inscription in the Valley of the Kings states; "You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat."

Their diet changed somewhat as they were provided with food by grateful humans, and breeding programs heightened certain characteristics in the formerly wild animals. The ancient Egyptians even hunted with their cats, a seemingly amazing feat of co-operation with an animal renowned for its stubborn individualism. Most importantly, they loved and respected their cats for being playful and affectionate companions but also highly intelligent skillful predators.

 

Cats were also important in the interpretation of dreams. Apparently seeing a cat in your dream confirmed that you would have a good harvest.

 

All cats were known as "miu" (or "miut") often translated as "he or she who mews". However, some believe that it also related to the word miw (to see). Little girls were often named "Miut" (literally meaning "female cat") displaying the Egyptians fondness for both cats and children.

 

There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. As the cat was domesticated, further changes in temperament and appearance became apparent. Cats became more colorful (as the need to be almost permanently camouflaged lessened), their bodies became smaller and less muscled (due to changes in diet and activity), their brains became smaller (as a result of the reduction in necessary survival instincts) and they developed an increased tolerance for humans.

 

Archaeologists found a man interred with his cat in a burial mound in Mostagedda near Asyut dated to around 6,000 years ago. The cat may not have been domesticated, but was clearly important to the deceased. It is generally suggested that cats were domesticated in Egypt around 2000 B.C.E. In the Seventeenth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, RA takes on the form of a cat named simply "Mau" (cat) in order to kill the serpent Apep The text reads; "I am the cat (Mau), who fought hard by the Persea tree in Annu on the night when the foes of Neb-er-tcher (a form of Osiris) were destroyed", The male cat is Ra himself and he is called "Mau" because of the words of the god Sa, who said about him, "who is like (mau) unto him?" and thus his name became "Mau" (cat). "

Cats were also associated with the “Eye of RA” and linked to the goddess Isis because they were perceived to be great mothers.

 

According to one theory, the cat was a semi-divine being who could not be owned by a mere human. Only the pharaoh had a high enough status to own a cat. Thus all cats were under the guardianship of the pharaoh and harming a cat was treason.

As a result, there were extremely heavy penalties for harming cats throughout Egyptian history. At the height of Bast´s popularity killing a cat, even accidentally, was punishable by death. Diodorus Siculus wrote "Whoever kills a cat in Egypt is condemned to death, whether he committed this crime deliberately or not. The people gather and kill him.

 

It was apparently illegal to export cats to neighboring countries. This led to a thriving trade in smuggled cats! Court records confirm that armies were occasionally dispatched to rescue the kidnapped felines and bring them home to Egypt.

 

When a cat died, their human family would go into a deep mourning and shave their eyebrows. The cat would then be mummified and buried along with provisions such as milk, mice and rats. Cats were often taken to Bubastis to be buried, but tombs have also been discovered in Giza, Abydos, Denderah and Beni Hasan. For example, a tomb in Beni Hassan was discovered in 1888 which contained an estimated 80,000 feline burials. The deceased cat was wrapped in fine linen and

 taken to be embalmed. Diodorus recorded that the deceased cat was "treated with cedar oil and such spices as have the quality of imparting a pleasant odor and of preserving the body for a long time."

 

Egyptian Mau’s are an ancient cat.  They are loyal, intelligent, lifetime companions and full of mystique.   If you are lucky enough to be owned by an Egyptian Mau then you have been blessed.

 

Donna L. Madison

TICA Egyptian Mau Breed Chair

 

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