5 Egyptian Cat Breeds

Mychelle Blake
Egyptian mau cat

Scientists studying the DNA of modern cats and ancient artwork have determined that cats were most likely first domesticated in Egypt. In fact, all modern domestic cats are descended from the Near Eastern wildcat found throughout the Middle East and Africa. Despite Egypt's importance in the development of the cats known and loved today, there are only a few modern breeds that hail from the country.

Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau is one of the only cat breeds with naturally occurring spots. There are actually two Egyptian Maus, the "show" breed that was bred by cat fanciers in Europe, and the "original" Mau, which are much more varied in appearance than the show type.

Crouching Egyptian mau cat
  • The fancy version of the breed comes in either silver, bronze, or smoke with dark-colored spots all over the body and tabby stripes on the face, tail and feet.

  • Unlike the show version, the native Egyptian Mau comes in more colors including blue, cream, and red in both solid and tabby patterns. However, they do not come in the mackerel or ticked tabby patterns.

  • Both types have striking green eyes and are short hair cats.

  • This is a medium-size breed that run about eight to 12 pounds when full grown.

  • They are known for being affectionate and people-focused, although they can be shy.

  • Egyptian Maus are also very athletic and are possibly the fastest domestic cat, reaching recorded speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. They also have a reputation for being extreme jumpers.

Nile Valley Egyptian Cat

These cats are also considered by some to be native Egyptian Maus and were recognized as an experimental breed by The International Cat Association in 2010. These cats are basically feral cats found in Egypt that are the object of a concerted rescue effort to save them from poisoning and eradication by the Egyptian authorities.

  • This breed is thought to be the oldest, domesticated cat breed.

  • They come in black, brown, blue, golden, grey, red, and white, and several patterns including solids, bi-color with white, tortoiseshell, calico, agouti, and lybica which is a type of spotted tabby with "bracelets" on their legs, tail, and forehead and a broken band around the neck.

  • These cats also have a unique "mantle" which runs along their back, sides, the bottom of their tail and top of their legs that has a separate pattern from the rest of their bodies.

  • Nile Valley Egyptian cats come in both short and longhair varieties and are medium-sized.

  • These cats have a rescue group located in the U.S., the Nile Valley Egyptian Foundation Inc., that is dedicated to saving them from extinction and placing them in homes in the U.S.

Shirazi

A Shirazi is a crossbreed of an Egyptian Mau and a Persian, producing a semi-longhair spotted cat. The breed is not recognized yet by any cat registries. In their native Egypt, they are considered a "street cat."

  • The Shirazi is a medium-sized longhair cat that has a thick, bushy tail.

  • They have muscular bodies with their back legs a bit longer than the front legs.

  • Their coat comes in bronze, red, black, blue, and cream. Silver and smoke are possible but very rare. Like Egyptian Maus, they come in the spotted tabby pattern as well as the classic tabby style or in solid colors.

  • They tend to have the same facial markings as tabbies with the dark "M" lines on the forehead and "eyeliner."

  • Their eyes are either green or amber.

  • Shirazis are very smart and affectionate cats with a reputation for being a bit more relaxed than the Egyptian Mau, which no doubt comes from their Persian cat heritage.

Abyssinian

No one really knows for sure whether the Abyssinian is actually from Egypt. They are often considered an Egyptian breed because of their resemblance to the wild cats of the region and to the other Egyptian breeds. Scientists doing DNA research believe the Abyssinian may in fact be from Southeast Asia but currently, it's still up for debate.

Closeup of Abyssinian cat
  • The Abyssinian is a sleek, athletic cat that is known for being a great climber and jumper.

  • They are medium-sized weighing between six and 10 pounds.

  • They come in several colors, although the most familiar is a reddish ticked coat.

  • The Abyssinian is a highly intelligent and active cat who loves people but definitely is not a good match for a sedate home looking for a calm lap cat.

Chausie

The Chausie is a hybrid breed, which is a mix of a wild cat and a domestic breed. The Chausie's wild heritage comes from the Jungle Cat, which is native to the Nile Valley and South Asia.

  • The breed gets its name from the Jungle Cat's scientific name, felis chaus.

  • The Chausie is a big, athletic cat with tufted ears, high cheekbones, long legs, and a deep chest.

  • An adult Chausie can weigh as much as 25 pounds, although 10 to 15 pounds is a more common top weight.

  • The Chausie comes in black, black grizzled ticked tabby, and brown ticked tabby

  • The Chausie was awarded Championship status by The International Cat Association 2013.

  • Unlike many domestic cats, Chausies love water, much like their wild ancestors.

  • They are a highly intelligent, active breed that needs an owner willing to provide a lot of physical and mental enrichment to make this cat happy.

  • They are known for being quiet, loving cats that enjoy all ages of people and even other animals.

  • Chausies tend to have gluten allergies and may need to eat a gluten-free cat food or home-prepared gluten-free food.

Cats From Ancient Egypt to Modern Times

Egypt, the birthplace of all domestic cats, is home to some striking and intelligent cats of its own in modern times. Though many of the current Egyptian breeds are harder to find in the U.S., you can thank their progenitors for the cats you know and love in homes today.

5 Egyptian Cat Breeds