Egyptian Maus are medium sized, well-muscled, and moderately active cats. They are randomly spotted, while their legs and tails are banded. Their head is a slightly rounded wedge without flat planes, and their medium to large ears may be tufted. Their eyes are large, alert and almond shaped, with a slight slant. They generally develop green eyes by 18 months of age. Mascara lines, a scarab mark on the forehead, and the large eyes give them a worried expression.
Maus have a medium long, graceful body with hind legs that are slightly longer than the front, giving them an appearance of being on their tip toes. They have small feet that are dainty with five toes in front and four in rear. A primordial flap of skin extending from their hind legs to their abdomen is thought to give them exceptional speed and agility. Acceptable colors for the show ring are silver, bronze, and smoke. There is also black, but that is not eligible for show.
The Egyptian Mau is the only natural, spotted, domestic breed and is believed to be a subspecies of the African wild cat. Hieroglyphics on the walls of tombs in the pyramids dating back over 4,000 years, depict a domesticated spotted cat. When agriculture was well established in Egypt around 2500 BC, silos of grain attracted rats and mice. Cats with very similar markings to those of the African wild cat were drawn to the prey, thus becoming useful members of Egyptian society.
Nathalie Troubetskoy, a Russian princess, carried a wicker basket with three Egyptian Maus when she emigrated to the United States in 1956. Since then imports have broadened the gene pool.