Back to Cat Breeds

The Egyptian Mau

The Goddess Cat

Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau, a creature of light and dark in Egyptian mythology. Lion-headed and moon-eyed, a feline, born of duality. In ancient times it appeared male in one incarcation and female in another. The sun god Ra, was male, but the goddess of femininity and maternity, Bast or Bastet, was female. It was Bast who had the body of a woman and the head of a cat. This has given us the notion of cats as female and dogs as male. Oldest of known domestic cats, it was depicted on scroll and temple walls in 1400 BC. There is no getting around the pervasive feminine mystique of the cat as fostered by the Egyptian Dynasties.

The role of the Mau in the religion, mythology, and everyday life of the Egyptian conveys the degree of affection and respect in which these cats were held. They were worshipped as deities, cherished as pets, protected by laws, and mummified and mourned upon their death.

One reason why these cats have been given female nomenclature in modern times is that the behaviour of the cat has always been, and continues to be, puzzling - especially for men.

The Egyptian Mau has the distinction of being the only natural spotted breed of domestic cat. An extremely intelligent animal, the Mau places a great importance on family, both human and their own, and is fiercely loyal in his devotion to them. They are moderately active and often express their happiness by chortling in a soft melodious voice and wiggling their tails at great speed while treading with their forepaws.

Egyptian Mau

An interesting story that has a connection with the Egyptian Mau is how the first cats came to Scotland. The Greek general Galsthelos, who commanded Pharoah's army, was defeated at the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. Galsthelos lived to see another day and travelled with his wife Scota, who was the Pharoah's daughter. Eventually, the general came to Portugal and settled there. Some centuries later, his decendant founded a country far to the north, and he named it after his ancestress, the beautiful Scota. That country he called Scotland and its mascot was a cat, a relative of the Egyptian Mau.

The breed name "Mau" simply means "to see". A British re-creation of the breed using Siamese cats is now called the Oriental Spotted Tabby, a type of Oriental Shorthair. The coat of the Egyptian Mau appears in only three colours - silver, bronze and a shaded black smoke.

The Egyptian Mau is one of the few breeds of cat that seems to enjoy being walked on a leash.

Back to Cat Breeds

Return to top of page