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A little bit of history

The word ‘mau’ is derived from one of the many languages that existed in the time of ancient Egypt, around 4000 years BC, and simply means cat. The first cats start to appear in Egyptian art from around 2000 BC, and in most cases, the cats depicted in Egyptian art bear a strong resemblance to the modern Egyptian Mau with an elegant build, large ears and eyes and often spotted markings. Cats assumed great importance in Egyptian religion from about 2000 BC onwards. By 945 BC the cat had become associated with the goddess Bastet and sacred cats kept and bred in temple catteries were worshipped as living manifestations of the goddess. The popularity of the cult of Bastet continued into the Roman era (to 330 AD). Many beautiful bronze sculptures of cats survive from this period and, with their long elegant limbs, high shoulder blades and level brows they are strikingly similar to modern maus. Cat mummies, dating from around 1000 BC, have provided much important information about the ancient Egyptians’ cats. Of the mummies that have been unwrapped, several have revealed the spotted tabby pattern characteristic of modern Egyptian Maus. There is therefore abundant evidence that elegant, spotted tabby domestic cats were common in ancient Egypt.

 It is very likely that the Romans were responsible for taking spotted cats from Egypt to Italy and possibly other parts of Europe, probably in the early centuries AD. Spotted cats closely resembling maus in both markings and body type are clearly depicted in a number of Roman mosaics.

The modern Egyptian Mau has been developed since the early 1950's using spotted cats imported from Egypt and, in the 1980’s, cats from India ( known as the 'Indian Lines' ).

By the 1990s there were breeders in the USA, Canada, Japan and continental Europe, the European Maus being reintroduced from cats bred in North America.

The breed reached the UK in 1998, when Melissa Bateson introduced the Egyptian Mau by importing a number of cats from the ‘NewKingdom’ lines in the USA. She worked tirelessly to develop the breed over a number of years and Maus finally received GCCF Champion status in 2006.

All GCCF-registered Maus must have at least 3 generations of registered Maus behind them, and there are currently no permitted outcrosses. The current gene pool of Maus in the UK contains descendants from traditional lines, Indian lines and more than one Egyptian import line. Therefore, despite the lack of allowable outcrosses, the gene pool of Egyptian Maus currently in the UK is reasonably diverse.

Our thanks go to the Egyptian Mau Society for providing this information

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