The Middle East, the cradle of civilization, is also home to one of the oldest and most natural breeds of cat, i.e., the Arabian Mau. This cat has been wandering the desert of the Arabian Peninsula for over a thousand years and it is believed to have originated from the African wildcat, Felis silverstris lybica. It got the name “Mau” to reflect the Egyptian word for cat.
The Arabian Mau is considered a true survivor, having to adapt to the oppressing desert climate where temperatures routinely soared over 125 degrees. To do so, the cat usually sleeps during the day and becoming active in the night. Another way is to lick itself; since it does not have sweat glands or pores, the layer of saliva acts like human sweat by drying and evaporating, thus, lifting heat away from the cat’s body.
The desert regions where the cats thrived were near to the human settlements. As development progresses in those areas, more cities began to spread out into the desert. This was when this wildcat also began to grow closer to the humans as more shelters and food was provided.
Observation and development of the Arabian breed were undertaken by the Middle East Cat Society (MECATS), which eventually led it to acceptance and recognition by the World Cat Federation (WCF).
Physical appearance and attributes
The Arabian Mau is a medium sized cat that weighs approximately between 9 – 16 pounds, which is 4 times heavier that than the weight of an average cat breed. The well-developed muscles and compact body contribute to the significant weight. The entire body appears fine, but not overly slender. It is accentuated by the long legs that taper into small oval paws; making it appear to be high on its legs. A medium tail that tapers into a fairly rounded point balances the body’s entire elegant stance.
Head of the Arabian Mau appears to be rounded, but is slightly longer than wide with well visible whisker pads. Viewed in profile, a slight curve is visible from the brow line to the tip of its nose. The muzzle is of a moderate length with a distinct chin. The eyes of the cat are large and oval, displaying a slight slant towards the ears. Eye color, usually complements the coat color. The ears are large and broad at the base. They taper to a rounded tip and are set slightly toward the side. The inner side of the ears is furnished with ear tufts.
This breed wears a single-layered coat that is short and close-lying; there is no undercoat. The coat comes in a variety of colors and patterns, usually a combination of white, black, gray and brown.
Personality and temperament
The Arabian Mau has been described to be a very hardy and sociable breed. It has high adaptability and can get along well with children and other family pets that are introduced well. Even though it appears to be a hardy cat, this breed knows how to return love and affection. It possesses a neat disposition and quiet temperament. Being a natural hunter and survivor, the Arabian Mau certainly has the ability to jump high and the instinct to explore. Coupled with its astuteness and playfulness, life with an Arabian Mau can be endlessly entertaining and adventurous. This also means the Arabian Mau would not be able to tolerate solitude.
Care and health issues
A healthy Arabian Mau can live up to an average of 12 – 15 years. Being a natural breed, this cat has no known genetic health issues and has a good immune system. It is still advisable to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders to ensure that the cat is free from other common feline diseases.
Grooming the Arabian Mau is effortless with its single-layered short coat. A weekly brush will suffice to help distribute its skin oil throughout its entire coat. This will help to maintain the coat’s health and luster as well. Other basic grooming practices should include frequent teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste as well as regular nail trimming. It would also be good to check the ears regularly for odors or redness that might be an indication of an infection.
The ideal home
This hardy and adaptable breed is suited for most environments as well as most types of household. Being active and agile, it would need the space to run, explore, hunt and play. An outdoor garden will be ideal, but it needs to be safe and escape-proof. Equip the play area with cat toys, cat trees, cat gym sets and scratch poles. The Arabian Mau can be an independent cat but it does not tolerate solitude for long. It's love for human companionship and its affection towards those close ones make it a sweet and winsome breed for any homes.