Learn more about the Egyptian Mau
The Egyptian Mau
by Bonnie Wydro and Melanie Morgan
Originally published in the 1999 CFA Yearbook
WHO IS THIS CAT?
‘This male cat is Ra himself, and he was called ‘Mau’ because the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: ‘He is like (Mau) unto that which he hath made’; therefore did the name of Ra become ‘Mau’.
(The Book of the Dead) 240BC The Papyrus of Ani translated by E.A. Wallis Budge
Ancient History, Ancient Myth…
Legends and mystery surround the origins of this ancient and royal breed. Time itself has obscured the true ancestry of the modern day Egyptian Mau, yet today, in 1997, when a truly exceptional example of a Mau poses regally on a judging table and gazes out at the world at large with its haunting imperious eyes, one can truly envision these fabulous creatures gracing the halls of ancient Egyptian temples.
And grace them they did… The Egyptian Mau, the only naturally spotted breed of domestic cat, was worshiped by its original owners, the ancient pharaohs and kings. The word Mau meant cat or sun in Ancient Egypt and there is no question that the Egyptians revered the cat both as a god and as a treasure. Papyri and frescoes dating back to as far as 1550 B.C., depict spotted cats that look extraordinarily like the Mau of today and have been found in abundance. The many documents found from the dawn of the New Kingdom on make it very obvious that the cat was an integral part of daily life as well as a worshiped deity in Ancient Egypt.
The actual domestication of the feline in Egypt probably coincided with the advent of the silo in Egypt. With the benefits of came pests, which attracted predators. Rats and mice flourished and attracted such fierce predators as the cobras and what was, at that point, probably the African Wildcat (Felis Silvestris Lybica). The process of domestication undoubtedly took thousands of years, but the beginnings of the bond between man and cat were forged as the Egyptians welcomed the superb hunting cats into their lives. The strength of that relationship continued to build as the Egyptians enticed the cats to join their households.
It is hypothesized that most, if not all domestic cats, including the Mau, originated from a sub-species of Felis Silvestris Lybica, Felis Libica Ocreata, and evolved through domestication and adaptation into the individual and distinct breeds that we see today. Morrison’s study of the many cat mummies from the 200-600 B.C. period which were found in the Egyptian Tombs confirm that the cats of ancient Egypt undoubtedly can trace their origins to the Felis Libica Ocreata, the subspecies of African Wildcat that found its way to Egypt through Ethiopia.
The Maus in their rightful place: Worshipped Deities
The religious significance of the cat in Egypt predates recorded history. In the XIIth Dynasty (2800B.C.) the Egyptian Book of the Dead portrays the benevolent sun god, Ra, in the form of a spotted cat slaying the evil serpent of darkness.
The worship of the dual natured goddess, Bast, started out as a local cult and reached its zenith around 950B.C. when Bubastis, home of the cult of Bastet, became the capital of Egypt. The goddess Bast was depicted as a cat, representative of both the sun and the moon, which reflects the light of the sun. Although she primarily represented the moon, which reflects the life giving light and warmth of the sun in the darkness of night. She is also depicted as holding the serpent of darkness at bay with bloody tooth and claw and as such was referred to as the ‘Tearer’ or ‘Renderer’.
Through the cult of Bast, the cat came to represent fertility, strength, and agility. It is most often depicted under the woman’s chair in frescos and papyri. Paintings on the walls of the Pharaoh’s tombs often showed the spotted Maus on the laps and shoulders of their owners (much the same places you find them today). It is reported that family members showed their grief in losing a cat by shaving their eyebrows and the cats were prepared for burial in linens and fine jewels so that all could be rejoined in the afterlife. Tomb paintings depict the role of the family pet in ancient times. They are shown, bejeweled and pampered, on the laps and shoulders of their owners in domestic scenes. They are also shown as fishing and fowling companions in the papyrus marshes.
Legend has it that the Egyptians’ reverence for their Maus went so far as to cause them to lose a major battle with Cambyses II of Persia. According to legend, the Persians quickly realized that the Egyptians’ Achilles heel was their fanatical dedication to their cat; thus, the Persians took many cats hostage. They then rode into battle holding the cats before them on their shields. Rather than risk killing or wounding the precious felines, the Egyptians surrendered the city of Pelusium (The Readers Digest Book of Cats page 30). The Mau was still held in reverence by the Egyptian people as late as Roman Times. In 1 B.C. the Sicilian historian Diodorus chronicles an incident where a Roman soldier stationed at Alexandra killed a cat. Although the Egyptians were in a delicate situation and would really have preferred not to antagonize the Romans at that point, there was no controlling the fury of the people. The soldier was seized by an angry mob and executed.
Further evidence of the high esteem given to the cat in Egyptian culture are the ornate and elaborate sarcophagi that were used for cats in tombs. Mummies of cats complete with mummified mice included in their tomb for food, have been found in the hundreds of thousands. Many have been found with fur intact. That fur was generally yellow (bronze in color) and exhibited spots, or in some cases, stripes and spots. Despite the spotted fur found on mummified cats, there do seem to be two types of cats depicted in the ancient art work – spotted felines and a sandy colored cat. Both seem to have the moderate body type that we see today in the Egyptian Mau. There is some speculation that the little known and rather shy Jungle cat, Felis Chaus, may have also been an ancestor of the Mau and/or the Aby. Although the theory is not widely accepted, there is significant evidence that suggests that both the Jungle Cat and the African Wild Cat were held in captivity simultaneously, and it is likely that there was some inter-breeding between these two. (Felines and Pharaohs). Regardless of the actual origin, the cats that we find in the tombs do indeed bear a striking resemblance to our modern-day Maus, lending credence to the theory that the Egyptian Mau is indeed one of the oldest, if not the oldest, breed of domestic cat today.
The ‘Modern Mau’
Prior to World War II, The Egyptian Mau enjoyed some popularity in Europe – especially Italy and Germany. The ravages of war wreaked significant damage on the cat fancy as a whole and the rare Egyptian Mau in particular. By the end of the war, the Egyptian Mau was in serious danger of complete extinction. Fortunately, several breeders in Italy took measures to preserve some breeding stock and it was there that the next stage in modern Mau history was initiated.
The American Beginning: The Traditionals
Much as it had been in the middle ages of ancient Egypt, the arrival of the Egyptian Mau in the United States was also as a companion of royalty. The real history of the modern Egyptian Mau begins in the early 50’s in Italy. While in Rome, exiled White Russian princess, Natalie Troubetsky, discovered the Egyptian Mau and became fascinated with them. The War had decimated the cat fancy in Europe, and despite her efforts, the princess was only able to secure two whole Maus from the stock in Italy. Gregorio was an eleven year old black male; his mate was Lulu, a silver female. Sometime later, using all of her extensive contacts in diplomatic circles, the princess located another male in Syria. Geppa, who was reportedly a smoke, was imported to Italy from Syria.
The original litter of post-war Maus was born in Italy in 1953 with a second in 1954. In December of 1956, Princess Troubetsky immigrated to the United States with three cats of her breeding, Jojo, Liza and Baba, which were used for the foundation of her cattery, Fatima. Baba, a silver female, was out of Lulu and by Geppa. Jojo, bronze male was out of Baba and by Gregario (which means that we know that his genotype was Aaii). Liza was the third Mau to come over with the Princess and she was out of Baba by Jojo. In 1958, she registered her cattery name, Fatima, and 10 cats with CFF.
Three distinct colors, homozygous for spots, appeared from the Princess’s stock. Silver, bronze and smoke were accepted for show purposes. Occasionally, self blacks were also seen in litters and were used for breeding purposes only. Many breeders have reported the existence of “blue” Maus over the years, and there is quite an extensive movement in Germany to promote the colors associated with the dilute gene. In June of 1997, CFA accepted the blue on AOV status.
These rare and majestic cats from the Princess’s line quickly developed an ardent following who felt that their distinct qualities should be preserved and protected and passed on as a legacy from the Egyptian Pharaohs to future generations. Some of the early catteries instrumental in promoting the breed were: Aswan, Bastis, Far East, Phiset, Polka Dots, Trillium, and of course, Fatima.
The cats that come primarily from the Princess’s lines have come to be called “traditionals”. Known mostly for their uncanny intelligence and exquisite head type, the traditionals have recently been mixed with what have come to be called the “Indian” lines to produce cats with gorgeous traditional heads and refined bodies with exceptional contrast and pattern.
Imports: The “Indian Line”
In 1980, Jean Mill imported two cats, Toby and his sister, Tasha. They were born in Egypt and adopted by a zoo keeper in New Delhi, India. Both were rufous bronze kittens with random spotting and exhibited distinct Mau characteristics. In 1982, they were registered with ACA. TICA accepted Toby’s line shortly thereafter and in the early ’80’s, CFA finally accepted the new bloodlines for the first time. Subsequently they retracted the acceptance, but in the late 80’s they reinstated the cats, which have been dubbed “Indian” lines. The introduction of new blood effectively doubled the gene pool. The expansion was much needed as the severely limited gene pool of the traditional Mau was starting to impact on litter size and viability and the health of the cats themselves. The expansion of the gene pool has had several benefits which indicate that this minority breed is revitalized and ready to expand into a new era. Over the past decade we have seen litter sizes increase, kitten viability improve significantly, and a decrease in the genetic problems that were beginning to plague the breed when the gene pool was self-limiting.
Maus are first and foremost, spotted cats and they hold a special place in history and the cat fancy as the only naturally spotted breed. These cats are born athletes with a muscular, lithe and agile appearance. While their expression is often described as “worried”, they exude extreme intelligence from their expressive gooseberry green eyes.
The Maus have been described in finals as “a primitive cat”, and of all the descriptors for these cats, that one seems to ring most true in a rather obscure way… When you look at a Mau, or catch sight of one out of the corner of your eye, they draw you back through the ages to an exotic and primitive time. No picture or book can do justice to the exotic beauty found in a silver Mau’s dazzling green eyes and shiny spots, the ghostly elegance found in a smoke Mau’s pattern, or the living room leopard grace of the bronze.
Of the current colors registration in CFA has broken out in the following approximate percentages over the years: 50% silver, 40% bronze, 10% smoke/black.
Although most people are attracted to the Maus because of their exotic good looks, appearance is only the beginning of the magic of the Mau: owners of Egyptian Maus find them unique in many ways in addition to their striking spotted coat patterns. These cats display exceptional intelligence and exhibit a fierce loyalty to their owners. Even though domesticated, several characteristics of their early ancestors have been retained. These include the “Cheetah” gait and a primordial skin flap, which allows the Mau remarkable freedom and agility in twisting and jumping.
The Maus are interactive cats. They expect to be an integral part of the family and demand to be treated as such. They love to play and often run around the house carrying a favorite toy. They enjoy retrieving and some have been taught to walk on a leash or ride on their owner’s shoulders.
These wonderfully striking spotted cats with their intelligent and alert expressions always creates a big stir with spectators at the shows. When an Egyptian Mau is taken from its cage by the judge, it is often greeted with a literal chorus of “oohs and aahs”.
Today, this ancient breed which was held in reverence by the Pharaohs, enjoys an equal status with its modern day owners…… There is no other cat quite so unique and entrancing as an Egyptian Mau! Some of their singular characteristics, such as a fierce independence, uncanny intelligence and a strong stubborn streak, also make the Mau a definite “challenge” to show.
Upbringing – SHOW TRAINING?
The Mau is described by many judges as having a worried look, but in truth, past years saw more worried owners and judges than Maus! Selective breeding for temperament, in addition to appearance, has resulted in a substantially improved disposition and show presence, making the Mau a pleasure both to hold and behold. Careful and selective breeding for temperament is the first priority for producing the perfect Mau. The next step is handling. The key to successfully conditioning a Mau for show includes handling the kittens from birth as well as exposing them to many and varied experiences. For the show Mau, an orientation show for experience prior to actual entry is often most helpful in readying the cat for competition.
Keep in mind that even though the CFA has established an import policy, this is still very much a minority breed and the numbers prove that – 1n1998 there were 299 Maus registered in CFA. Since 1977, CFA has registered less than 3500 Maus. Breeding programs crossing Traditional and Indian lines are producing healthy beautiful cats. Problems such as cardio-myopathy, asthma, and luxar patella, and dystocia, that had begun to crop up in some of the traditional lines have decreased significantly. Overall the current Maus are extremely healthy cats with average life expectancy of approximately 12 years.
The determined efforts of the early Egyptian Mau breeders came to fruition in the late 70’s and early 80’s with much greater recognition of and appreciation for the Mau in the show ring.
The first Egyptian Mau to grand was Sangpur Jonathon Dot Dot, Silver male, bred and owned by Jon and Shirley Charbonneau. This title was earned in 1977. 1979 saw the first grand premier in Trillium’s Spunky Peanut. In 1980 Froghaven Tiye, bred and owned By Dale and Sharon Buchbinder, became the first bronze Grand Champion.
1984 saw an increase in Maus being shown with a total of eight Grand Champions and Grand Premiers. GC RW Haj’s Inka Dinka Dot, bred and owned by Jill Archibald and Janet Hershey, became the first ever to earn a regional award in championship. It is quite likely that Inka would also have garnered a win in CFA’s top 20 Cats; however, the Mau world suffered a loss in this lovely cat’s untimely death. This same year Haj cattery also produced GP RW Haj’s Oh Spotted Fever, bronze neuter, who was the first to attain a regional award in premiership.
In 1985, 11 Maus earned GC or GP titles, followed by 8 in 1986. This year the Sangpur cattery became the first to produce a smoke Grand in Sangpur Cinderfella. 1986 also saw another first, Sangpur Alaska Diamond, a silver female bred by Brenda Keenan and owned by Shirley Charbonneau and CH Temek Ka of Kathaus, silver female bred by Tobe Goldman and owned by Cheryl and Gary Kleist, both earned the title of DM. To date, they are the only two Maus to earned this prestigious honor.
Egyptian Grand Champions and Grand Premiers numbered 12 in 1987 with 11 the following year. In 1988, Matiki’s Dot the I, silver male bred and owned by Jan and Bonnie Wydro, became the first kitten to be named a regional winner.
The year of 1989 only saw 4 Mau grands, but in 1990 there was much more activity with a new record of 14. This year, Kaakhamit Karida of Daytown, bred by Kerry Conway and owned by Jane Dayton And Kerry, made a bit of history in being the first ever to attain both Grand Champion and Grand Premier titles. This year also saw the first Japanese Mau grand and regional winner in Joyfulpal’s Totomes III, silver male, bred and owned by Yoshiko Moriya.
In 1991 among the 6 grands, numbered Matiki’s Ride ’em Mauboy. Rider surprised his owners and the Mau breeders by being The first Egyptian to grand in one show. In 1993, GC BW NW Maipet’s Shanadu of Kayzie, a striking silver female, bred by Doris Morgan and owned by Kaye Chambers, came out early in the year as a top winning kitten, quickly granded, and then maintained her status as a top winner by securing a place in the Top twenty cats. She finished the year as a double national winner, and the entire Mau world celebrated with her!
1994 saw a repeat performance with GC BW NW Bacamamdit’s Richochet of Pazlo, silver male, bred by Linda Buzonas and owned by Perry Long and Bruno Pazienza, finishing 13th in CFA’s top twenty.
The 94-95 show season was highlighted by GC BW RW Hajja’s Wholly Smoke, who claimed the distinction of being the first smoke Egyptian Mau to attain CFA National Best of Breed. This lively boy was owned and shown by Jill Archibald and bred by Jill and the Wydros.
Late in the 94-95 season, GC BW NW Sharbees Scarlett O’Hairy of Matiki appeared on the scene, earning a regional kitten award in the Northwest region. She was bred by Sharon Partington and was co-owned by Sharon and Jan and Bonnie Wydro. She went on to compete in the 95-96 season as an adult and quickly assumed a place in the top 20, remaining there throughout the year and finishing 17th best cat in championship, thus earning her a place in Mau history as the first bronze Egyptian to attain a national award.
The 96-97 show year brought the first Japanese bred and shown national best of breed in Yoshiko Moriya’s Joyfulpal’s Dui, a silver male. Jill Archibald made a valiant attempt to earn the first national top 20 premiership award with her Egyptian, GP RW Hajja’s I’m Not Brown. Brown finished 23rd in the standings.
The 1997-1998 show season was a year for setting records and was quickly referred to as the year of the Mau by judges and exhibitors alike. GC BW RW Brockhaven Osira and and GC RW Brockhaven Mafdet started the year off by becoming one show grands. They then went on to become the first Mau littermates to achieve a National Best and 2nd Best of Breed. Their mother, Brockhaven Philomene, DM became only the third Mau to achieve the title of Distinguished Merit and the first smoke Mau to do so. A record of 21 Mau granded this season with 11 going on to become Regional winners!
Egyptian Mau National Breed Award Winners
|Best of Breed||GC Froghaven Tiye|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Haj’s Gaza Spot|
|Best of Breed||GC Phiset Francis Spot Key|
|2nd Best of Breed||CH Haj’s Victoria|
|Best of Breed||GC Chatachee Big Dots of Siamsil|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Chantara|
|Best of Breed||GC, RW Haj’s Inka Dinka Dot|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Ba of Kathaus|
|Best of Breed||GC Haj’s Johnny Appleseed|
|2nd Best of Breed||Kathaus Sidi Yahia|
|Best of Breed||GC Haj’s Crystal of Matiki|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Cinderfella|
|Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Jonnibe Good|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Chatodeneuf Cleopatra of Heijinmao|
|Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Camelback Jack|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Zaynzalbar’s Chicklet of Orchadia|
|Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Megadots|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Mia Pharaoh|
|Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Ga. Spotworks|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Spotacular|
|Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Ride ‘Em Mauboy|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Atumkhepri’s Shahada|
|Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Mauterial Girl|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Kaakhamit Henna of Phiset|
|Best of Breed||GC Maipet Shanadu of Kayzie|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Muhibbi Spotme in the Dark of Pazlo|
|Best of Breed||GC Bacamamdit’s Ricochet of Pazlo|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Sangpur Mauhautmau of Joyfulpal|
|Best of Breed||GC Hajja Wholly Smoke|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Lucy Fur|
|Best of Breed||GC Sharbees Scarlet O’Hairy of Matik|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Brockhaven Lucky Strike|
|Best of Breed||GC Joyfulpal’s Dui|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC Matiki’s Son of the South|
|Best of Breed||GC, RW Brockhaven Osira|
|2nd Best of Breed||GC, RW Brockhaven Mafdet|
|3rd Best of Breed||GC, RW Ocali Spots off the Dice of Matiki|
The past several years have witnessed some new promising competitors in the Egyptian Mau breed. Among these are Melanie and David Morgan (Emau cattery), Penny and Gary Mull (Mullodies cattery), Verdery Brown (Ocali), Melissa Bateson (New Kingdom), Susan Johnson (Freckles), Kitty Dietrick (Cactuscats), Judith Mendlesohn (J’s Iris) and Bill Richot (Buzz). Many established catteries continue to produce grand champions and regional winners. This includes Brockhaven (Dot Brocksom), Kikori (Richard and Kathy Kopp) Hajja (Jill Archibald), Matiki (Jan and Bonnie Wydro), Joyfulpal (Yoshiko Moriya), Sharbee (Sharon Partington), Dolagon (Tony Aizawa), Skarbeios (Richard Davis), Bacamamdit (Linda Buzonas) and Shainefer (Karla Hensley).
Egyptian Maus have continued to gain in popularity and at the writing of this article, several have shown potential to compete with CFA’s best in the new show season. The expansion of CFA in Europe has created extensive interest for the breed with many catteries hoping to be the first to earn a place in European Egyptian Mau history.
Egyptian Mau Distinguished Merit Winners
1986: Sangpur Alaska Diamond, DM – Silver Female
1986: CH Temek Ka of Kathaus, DM – Silver Female
From the tombs of the ancient Pharoahs, across the seas and into the show ring, this beautiful cat captivates and charms all those fortunate enough to see and to know them. The Egyptian Mau’s regal bearing and loving nature have firmly secured a rightful place for this cat not only in the past, but in the future of the feline world.
PREDICTING MAU COLORS
Not being a geneticist, or even of a scientific nature, we hesitate to go into too much detail regarding genetics, even with something so superficially simplistic as color predictors via genetics in what is, or was until recently essentially a four color breed (this does not include the blue which was accepted for AOV status in June of 1997)… But here goes. We’ll try to put the basics into “layman’s” terms. Fortunately for those of us who are not scientifically inclined, basic Mau color genetics are inherently fairly easy to understand.
There are four main genes and accompanying alleles that impact on Egyptian Mau color: The color gene, “BB (black), the tabby gene T (striped tabby). the agouti gene A/a (agouti/non-agouti),and the inhibitor gene I/i (inhibitor/non-inhibitor), Because it is a given that Maus are BB (Black cats) and they are striped tabbies (T) with a polygene effect that causes the stripes to break up into spots and make the striped tabby a spotted tabby, the two remaining genes, the Agouti (A and a) and the Inhibitor (I and i) can be used to reliably predict the probabilities of producing silver, bronze, smoke or black kittens. The Blue, which has recently been accepted on an AOV status, complicates the issue somewhat by adding another gene into the Mau color predictor pool: The color-density gene; D (dense), or d (dilute).
BASIC DESCRIPTIONS — THE GIVENS:
BASIC BLACK IS ALWAYS EN-VOGUE!
The color gene has three alleles, black, dark brown, or light brown. All Maus are genetically BB, or, in other words, black cats. The black allele “B” is dominant and produces a black or black-and-brown tabby coat. The presence of the agouti gene affects which of the two you get. With the Maus, when you do have an agouti gene, you get a silver or a bronze, when you do not, you have a smoke or a black. For example, the smoke and black Maus inherit an “a” from each parent. Because they do not have the agouti “A”, they are black cats. The Inhibitor (I) affects whether the cat is a smoke or a black; a smoke, by definition, must have at least one “I” to produce the white undercoat, but, as usual, we are ahead of ourselves here, back to the beginning…
SPOT THE TABBY!
All Maus are genetically striped or mackerel tabbies, “T”, with the stripes broken into spots by multiple polygenes. The “T” produces non-agouti stripes (shudder the thought) or, where spotted tabby polygenes are present as modifiers, spots, on an agouti background. There is no actual “spotted tabby” gene. The spots are created by polygene influence that causes the stripes on a striped tabby to break into spots. The tabby gene is responsible for the coat pattern itself. Although the “T” dictates a pattern, the appearance of the pattern is generally allowed to show through clearly with the addition of the agouti gene “A”. The smoke Mau, which does not have the agouti gene, gets its pattern from the T gene. Its pattern is allowed to “show through” by virtue of the Inhibitor gene which produces a white undercoat.
BASIC DESCRIPTIONS – THE VARIABLES:
RICKI TICKY TAVI! – THE TICKING FACTOR
The Agouti gene Aa: The Agouti gene is directly responsible for ticking and has two alleles: agouti “A” and non-agouti “a”. The Agouti allele “A” produces the ticked hair that produces a tabby coat (in conjunction with the Tabby gene of course). It is dominant. The agouti basically creates an on-offdepositing sequence of Melanin granules along the hair shaft. The recessive non-agouti allele “a” suppresses ticking and produces a solid black color coat. It is important to note that the agouti gene has no impact on the Mau pattern, it merely affects the presence, or absence of ticking on the individual bands of hair.
IS YOUR MAU INHIBITED?!
The Inhibitor gene Ii: This gene’s two alleles are the inhibitor “I” and the non-inhibitor “i”. Neither one of these alleles affects final color or pattern. They merely determine whether the ultimate color is built upon a clear ground color or a brown one. The inhibitor gene “I” is mutant and dominant. It is the gene responsible for creating those beautiful silvers, and the white undercoat of the smoke. Basically it “inhibits” the expression of color on the hair. The “I” effectively changes the light areas on an agouti coat from brown or rufous to silver and makes the black undercoat of the non-agouti smoke white instead of black. The Inhibitor allele “I” can be variably expressed, giving modifications on the actual appearance. When the cat has two non-inhibitor “i’s”, it is either a bronze or a black. The non-inhibitor allele, “I”, allows the color to express itself along the length of the hair. It is wild and it is recessive. It seems to be relatively widely accepted that the Inhibitor produces an additive affect, therefore a silver Mau with relatively little (or no) tarnish would quite likely have the genotype II.
IF MAUS ARE SO SMART, WHY ARE THEY ALL DENSE?!
The color-density gene Dd (impacts on the “blue” issue) The dense allele “D” is dominant and produces even distribution of pigment throughout the hair, ultimately producing a deep pure coat color. The dilute “d” is mutant and recessive. It causes a concentration or “clumping” of pigment in the hair shaft which results in “diluting” the black hair of the Mau to blue by causing the black hair to reflect white light. Because the dilute “d” is recessive, it stands to reason that we see less of it in our litters. All of the currently showable colors and the blacks have at least one large D in their genetic makeup. By adding the blue as an AOV, we have effectively added four registerable colors: Blue silver, Blue spotted (bronze), Blue smoke, and blue self. All blues are homozygous for dilute, “dd”.
All of the Maus that are currently showable (and the black) have black paw pads and black tail tips. Blues will have blue or pink paw pads and blue tail tips. Both queen and stud must carry a dilute gene (d) in order for a cat to be a blue.
PRECIOUS METALS – THE COLORS THEMSELVES
For the purposes of this section, we will concentrate primarily on the predictors for the silver, bronze, smoke and black.
- Silver Maus must have at least one “A” and one “I”.
- A silver Mau carrying a “a” is said to be carrying smoke
- A silver carrying a “i” is said to be carrying bronze
- Theoretically a silver to silver breeding can produce any of the currently recognized colors if both silvers are “universal carriers meaning they carry smoke and bronze (AaIi)
- If a silver queen has a bronze or black offspring or parent, you know that she is “Ii” (If stud was silver as well, and they have bronze or black offspring, you know that he too is “Ii”)
- If a silver queen has a smoke or black offspring or parent, you know that she is “Aa.(If stud was silver as well, and they have smoke or black offspring, you know that he too is “Aa”).
Genetically all silver tabbies (and indeed shaded silvers and chinchillas) are Black, Agouti, and Inhibited. The modifiers that affect those genes are what produce such different effects.
As discussed earlier, there is some speculation among Mau breeders that the presence of a non-inhibitor “i” allele in a silver would create a silver with more likelihood of “tarnish” than a silver that carries inhibitor alleles from both sides “II”. Basically, the theory is that the presence of two II’s increases the likelihood of penetrance for the Inhibitor effect and thus creates a clearer, silver… there are, of course, other multi-gene factors that affect how tarnished a cat is and the degree of light or dark silver for their coat. Using this theory though, it makes sense that the silvers produced from a silver to bronze breeding would have more tarnish than those produced by silver to silver breedings because all silvers produced from a silver to bronze pairing will be “Ii”. These are not the only silvers who will exhibit tarnish of course. As long as one of the silvers in a match is “Ii”, silver to silver breeding can still produce an “Ii” cat and those cats seem to have a less “white silver” appearance than their “II” counterparts. There is some indication, however, that the “Ii” silvers may hold onto their contrast better than the double inhibited silvers…
- A bronze must have no inhibitor (ii) and at least one agouti (A).
- If they have a smoke or a black parent, they must be Aa.
- If a bronze queen has a black offspring or parent, you know that she is “Aa” (If stud was bronze as well, and they have a black, you know that he too is “Aa”)
- Bronze to bronze can only produce bronze or black kittens
- A bronze cat with Aa is said to be carrying smoke
Genetically, the bronze Mau is a brown striped tabby with polygene modifiers to make it a spotted tabby. They must be agouti and non silver. The presence, or lack thereof , of rufous polygenes impacts on the “warmth” of the coloring. Note, the rufous effect is still widely un-defined. Because rufous is a result of a polygene effect, it is not a “yes or no”, “on or off” issue. Rather, it runs a spectrum of intensity and we have yet to define all the influencers.
- A smoke must be non-agouti (aa), and have at least one Inhibitor (I)
- A smoke with genotype Ii is said to be carrying bronze
- Two smokes cannot produce silver or bronze offspring, only smoke or black
- If a smoke cat has a bronze or black offspring or parent, he/she must be Ii
The smoke Mau must be non-agouti and carry the Silvergene. Because it is a non-agouti cat the smoke Mau is therefore a “solid-coated” cat. The “aa” (non-agouti) produces extra pigment in the ground coat.. Wait a minute, you say, that smoke Mau I saw the other day sure as heck looked like it had spots to me!?! The Smoke Egyptian Mau, is to my knowledge the only smoke tabby recognized by CFA (in a sense it really is kind of a misnomer). For all other smokes, it is considered a major flaw to have pattern show through! In the instance of the smoke Mau, the T impacts by producing pattern on a solid coat, but the white undercoat, caused by the Inhibitor gene, “I” creates a wider space between spots thereby making the spots more visible. By definition, the smoke Mau also has at least one inhibitor, which produces a white undercoat. Hence, the presence of the Inhibitor in conjunction with the Tabby pattern lends itself to producing the ghostly photo-negative effect of the smoke. The clarity of the spots depends on intensity of the pattern and the overall color of the cat. Smokes do tend to darken as they get older. Keep in mind, that while breeders with other breeds are breeding to minimize pattern visibility, Mau breeders are selecting for paleness so the pattern can show through….
- The self Black Mau is aaii – non-agouti, non-inhibited
A solid black Mau is a tabby where the spaces between the spots are filled in or masked. The tabby pattern is still there – there is just extra pigment that hides the spots. Many self blacks have visible patterns in the right light – especially when they are young.
Using the three “variable” genes, we can list the following genotypes for specific Mau colors (phenotypes).
Four basic colors:
All of the above colors have either one or two dense (D) genes.
Add in the blue issue and you effectively add four colors with the following genotypes:
Once you understand the above chart, it becomes relatively easy to begin to “genotype” your own stock and once that is done, breedings can be selected to minimize unwanted colors, etc.