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Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds

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  • Cats played a vital role in ancient Egyptian culture.
  • Egypt is widely considered to be the birthplace of the domestic cat.
  • There are seven purebred Egyptian cat breeds today. Read on to find out who they are.

The ancient Egyptians lived in a time when the relationship between humans and wild animals became more intimate out of necessity. From jackals to Nile crocodiles, Egyptians were used to recognizing the important role they played in their ecosystems. They attribute their proper role to belonging to the gods.

However, cats held a special place in ancient Egyptian culture. You can see it in numerous temples and statues of creatures, as well as cats that were mummified to pass on to the afterlife. That makes sense. As Egypt developed into an important cradle of civilization, cats played an important role in regulating the population of rats and other pests. Given that agriculture is regulated by the cycle of the Nile, their ability to defend their granary could mean the difference between a community starving or surviving.

Today, Egypt is widely considered to be the birthplace of the domestic cat. While only a few breeds can be traced back to Egypt, these breeds vary in appearance and personality. These are the seven largest Egyptian cat breeds in existence today.

#1. The African Wildcat: The Mother of All Domestic Felines

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
The African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) is native to North Africa and is considered the ancestor of the domestic cat.

©Erwin Niemand/Shutterstock.com

With an average length of just over two feet, and facial features and body proportions that look so similar to typical domestic breeds, it's easy to mistake an African wildcat for a pet. But these felines are definitely not tame, and there's a reason why they've managed to develop a habitat that covers nearly all of Africa and stretches as far as China and Mongolia. Their size certainly played a role in that. Larger African cats such as lions and cheetahs evolved in such a way that their nutritional needs were met only by large prey species such as gazelles and wildebeest.

The more compact African wildcat can hunt a variety of prey from birds to lizards to insects. But rodents such as mice, squirrels and hares make up 80 percent of the diet of African wildcats. Natural selection has even prepared these feral cats for wild fluctuations that can occur in rodent populations. Their litter sizes are relatively large and so common that many African wildcats can give birth more than twice a year. This ability to expand populations to quickly satisfy prey populations allows them to integrate gracefully into human communities.

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African wildcats are actually the ancestors of all domestic cats on the planet, but don't mistake them for pets. You can learn more about its cousin, the European wildcat, here.

#2. Chausie: a combination of the wild and the domesticated

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
Chausies are active and adventurous breeds built for their speed and agility.

© Tania__Wild/Shutterstock.com

While the details may be debatable, the scientific community recognizes that feral cats essentially domesticated themselves through natural selection to adapt to more suitable environments created by humans. The Chausie is in some ways a deconstruction of traditional breeding practices, as it was bred to be a fully domesticated cat more similar to the earliest ancient Egyptian cat breeds. The result is one of the largest and wildest domestic cats in the world. But instead of choosing a direct ancestor of the African wildcat as a template, Chausies were bred from a member of the family known as the bush cat.

Bush cats are similar to African wildcats in size, build, and habits, and their genetics give the Chausie a strong physique and natural athleticism. Because of this, these cats can easily reach 15 pounds and still be a healthy weight. Although they may have some physical traits of their bush cat ancestors, their minds are purely domestic. Serial breeding of the Abyssinian and other related domestic breeds has given these big cats a dynamic and gregarious personality.

#3. Shiraz: The Rough Diamond

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
The Iranian "Shiraz cat" was first brought into Italy from Iran around 1620. This breed of cat has appeared in hieroglyphs.

© Mehmet Cetin/Shutterstock.com

If rumors are to be believed, the Shiraz is the result of mating a short-muzzled long-haired Persian from nearby Iran with the stunning and robust Egyptian Mau. The result is a breed that isn't recognized by any cat lovers' organizations in the West, but you don't have to look hard to find them on the streets of any modern Egyptian city. Feral and stray communities persist in urban areas, and shiraz is often seen as a common pest.

It's a heartbreaking understatement for a breed that deserves better. Inheriting their personalities from the Egyptian Mau, these lean but athletic cats really thrive in an environment where they receive regular attention from their human caretakers. They are often goofy and affable, but their bright minds can often get them into trouble. Most of their beauty comes from the Persian side. The long coat of the Shiraz is soft and luxurious, but it also comes in a variety of colors and patterns not found in traditional Persian cats. But what really makes these cats stand out are their large, round, expressive eyes.

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#4. Egyptian Maus of the Nile Valley: Stray cats with serious pedigrees

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
Some proponents of the Nile Valley Egyptian cat claim they are the "missing link" between the ancestors of the African wild cat and the fully domesticated cat species.

©Rodrigo Munoz Sanchez/Shutterstock.com

Nile Valley Egyptians were only recognized as an experimental breed by the International Cat Federation in 2010, and they are at the heart of the struggle over the relationship between modern Egyptians and the modern cat community that lives around them. Identified as a native breed of wild and stray cats that can be found ubiquitously in the country's major urban centers, some proponents of the breed claim they are the "missing link" between the ancestors of the African wildcat and fully domesticated cats ".

Until recently, breeders have actively introduced these often feral felines for breeding, and the government often considers them pests. Shooting and poisoning are some of the more common methods of dealing with feral cat populations, and these actions are wiping out a species of cat that probably doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. These cats are so similar to the Egyptian Mau that some people still believe that these Egyptian Mau breeds are actually the same species. But if nothing else, the centering of the Nile Valley Egyptian cat could help shed light on the broken system of wildlife rescue and control at work.

#5. Savannah Cat: Siam meets Egypt

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
Savannah cats are a large, athletic breed that are exceptionally affectionate with their owners but can be a bit cold with strangers .

© Kolomenskaya Kseniya/Shutterstock.com

Although the Savannah was not actually first bred in Egypt, it is very similar to some ancient Egyptian cat breeds. It is bred by wild African cat and Siamese cat. Although they are totally wild cats, they are considered a sign of prestige among religious and aristocratic elites. While Savannah cats can't weigh as much as 25 pounds like mastiffs, they are large and muscular, easily reaching 15 pounds and standing about a foot tall. But most striking are the distinctive spots that make a Savannah cat look like a small, pastel-colored leopard.

Savannah cats inherit many of the character traits of Siamese cats. While Siamese cats are often commented on as having a dog-like personality, the Savannah applies that sense of individuality to a cat almost the size of a dog. Due to their close association with the wild, these felines have strong predatory instincts, although they can be trained without much effort. These cats require a fair amount of attention and space to play and stretch their slender bodies. They also need to be properly socialized, as they can be a little cold towards strangers.

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#6. Abyssinian cat: an ancient breed

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
Abyssinian cats are very intelligent. They can be successfully trained with clickers to perform tricks and even walk on a leash.

© Kyselova Inna/Shutterstock.com

Abyssinian cats — like most of the Egyptian cat breeds on this list — have the appearance of wild cats, even though they have been fully domesticated for as long as 4,000 years. Whether these cats actually came from Egypt is debated, as the name suggests is of Ethiopian origin, and recent genetic testing has provided convincing arguments for India or Southeast Asia as the breed's point of origin. But they are strikingly similar to Egyptian cats, as they appear in contemporary art and in mummies from ancient and classical Egypt.

They may be old, but these cats never forget their kitten-like curiosity. Instead, they sharpen it with their great intellect. These cats want to follow their caretakers as they check off each item on their daily chore list and try to understand why. No other breed on earth can exactly replicate the unique and beautiful coat of the Abyssinian cat, which is characterized by overlapping chevron patterns of different colors. An Abyssinian ranges from about $500 to $1,500 for a show-ready cat.

If you're interested in learning more about the Abyssinians, head here.

#7. Egyptian wool: a controversial choice

Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
The Egyptian Mau is the fastest of all domestic cats. It can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour thanks to its long hind legs and folds of skin under its belly.

©Jolanta Beinarovica/Shutterstock.com

The Egyptian Mau is the only domesticated cat with natural spots, but it may not actually have come from Egypt. Recent DNA evidence suggests that the breed may have originated in Europe, but there is no doubt that this exceptionally robust tall cat closely resembled felines found in remnants of Egypt's past. Their personalities also have a lot in common with the other Egyptian cat breeds on this list. Smart, playful, and strong, these cats can be demanding, but so are the rewards.

It's worth noting that the Egyptian rat is known for forming a special bond with a human. That's not to say they can't interact with others in the family. Maus are initially wary of strangers, but if they are properly socialized, their hesitation quickly disappears. Egyptian mau kittens cost more than Abyssinians: between $1,000 and $2,500.

The Egyptian Mau's lineage may be in doubt, but you can read everything else we know about this imperial breed here.


Egypt is recognized as the birthplace of the domestic cat. All the felines that run around today, probably can be traced back to the Egyptian cats. In ancient Egypt, cats were worshiped and kept as pets, and played an important role in Egypt's emergence as an agricultural power. The ancient Egyptians' fascination and reverence for cats can be seen in the statues, paintings and mummies that still exist today. These are the 7 Egyptian varieties that we still have today:

1. african wildcat
2. Josie
3. Shiraz
4. Nile Valley Egyptian Mau
5. savannah cat
6. abyssinian cat
7. egyptian mau


  • 10 Unbelievable Egyptian Mau Facts Click here to learn more about this tabby cat lovers will love.
  • Maine Coon vs. Norwegian Forest Cat: Comparing These Giant Cats While Egypt may be considered the birthplace of the domestic cat, they certainly weren't the only place felines were found at the time.
  • Cat Breeds Check out these other breeds of cats. Can you name which ones originated in Egypt?

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Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds
Types of Egyptian Mau Breeds

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about the author

Krishna is a lifelong animal owner and advocate. She owns and operates a small farm in upstate New York where she lives with three dogs, four donkeys, a mule and a cat. She holds a BA in Agricultural Technology and has extensive experience in animal health and welfare. When not working with her own animals and tending her farm, Krishna is helping other animal owners with behavior or management issues and teaching regenerative farming practices to nearby farmers.

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