Maus are a medium-sized short-haired cat
breed. They are the only naturally spotted breed
of domesticated cat. The spots on an Egyptian Mau
are not just on the coat; a shaved Mau has spots
on its skin. The Ocicat is very similar in appearance
to the Egyptian Mau, but was the product of selective
breeding which led to its spots. Another similar
looking breed is the Bengal cat, but this breed
tends to be considerably larger.
The breed conformation is described by The Cornell
Book of Cats as
a balance between the compactness of a Burmese
and the slim elegance of a Siamese. Its medium-length
body is muscular, with the hind legs longer than
the front, giving the Mau the appearance of standing
on tiptoes when upright.
The longer hind legs are another reason for the
breed's startling speed. The Mau also has a loose
flap of skin on the lower abdomen, similar to
the cheetah, which allows a longer stride while
running, again contributing to its great speed.
A Mau running at full speed is impressive, with
Maus often possess very musical voices. They
are known to chirp, chortle and emit other distinctly
unusual vocalizations when stimulated. Another
behavior, quite common in happy Maus, has been
described as "wiggle-tail." The cat,
male or female, moves its back legs up and down,
and appears to be marking territory, also known
as spraying, but it is not actually releasing
urine. Even veteran Mau owners are known to check
after a joyous Mau does this little dance.
Maus are thought by many to be one of the progenitor
breeds of the modern domestic cat. They have anatomical,
metabolic and behavioral differences from other
cat breeds which could be considered as evidence
of antiquity or at least uniqueness from other
cat breeds. Besides those already mentioned, Maus
are more temperature sensitive than most breeds
- they are fond of very warm temperatures. They
are more sensitive to medicines and anesthesia.
Maus also have an unusually long gestational period.
The maximum normal period for cats is 69 days,
although Siamese may take a day or two longer.
For a Mau, 73 days is still considered normal.
Egyptian Maus are the fastest breed of domestic
cat, capable of running at 36 mph. The next fastest
breed is the American Shorthair which has a top
speed of 31 mph. For comparison, giraffes also
run at 36 mph. Maus are powerful cats for their
size, alert and active. Males are usually somewhat
larger than females.
Purebred Egyptian Maus are a relatively rare
breed. Currently, the number of registered Egyptian
Maus worldwide is probably about 3000. Maus are
such a rare breed some animal shelters will not
take them in, but pass them directly to Mau breed
rescue leagues. Maus come in five colors. Three
can be shown: silver, smoke and bronze. Black
and pewter Maus cannot be shown, but can be used
in breeding. All Maus must have green eyes, but
an amber cast is acceptable in kittens and young
adults up to eighteen months old.
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