Showing posts with label Egyptian Mau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egyptian Mau. Show all posts

Wednesday 20 April 2022

The world's first cat breeders were Ancient Egyptians and they were ignorant

The ancient Egyptians may well have been the world's first cat breeders. Also, they may have bred by far the greatest number of cats at any time in the history of cat breeding.  They were world record holders when it comes to the domestic cat but in a very uncomfortable way.

This was not a nation that worshiped the cat in the way you do when you respect the cat as a sentient being; no, it was worshiping the cat as a deity and breeding millions of cats for ritualistic sacrifice. As I said this was a nation of cat abusers not cat lovers.

Bastet - Ancient Egyptian sculpture - Louvre museum

I think the word "worship" has been misused in relation to the cat in ancient Egypt. The worship of the god Bastet (a statue in the shape of a cat - the god of beauty) was not due to a respect for the real cat, the domestic cat as a useful companion animal. It was about using and abusing the domestic cat to try and please a god with the intention of improving the life of the worshiper. It was buying good luck. 

It just so happens the god was a cat in this instance and they devised a way to please the god: kill cats. By enlightened modern standards, it is all a completely fabricated load of nonsense at the expense of the vulnerable cat. Note: there are still millions of people who believe this sort of stuff in 2022. For instance, drinking tiger bone wine to improve health etc. is very similar in the underlying superstitions.

If there was a reverence for the domestic cat it was born out of a desire to please the god Bastet. Perhaps they believed they had to have reverence for the cat. That reverence did not translate into respect. These are two completely different concepts, obviously.

At the root of all good cat caretaking there is respect for the cat as a cat. To see the cat as an animal that can be breed in the millions for sacrifice to a god is not a demonstration of respect for the cat. It is the opposite.

Photo: AFP.

Clearly the mentality of the people in Egypt some 2,200 years ago and more will be different to modern people. We have to adjust for that. However, I say that we have to view animal abuse in an absolute sense regardless of the era and by the highest and most enlightened standards. 

This is because being cruel to animals and killing animals for the convenience of people is an absolute act. It is black and white. The cat is alive; the cat is dead. All creatures have a right to life. I don't believe that we can criticise the ancient Egyptians for killing cats for sacrifice but I do believe that we can say that it was cat abuse, full stop.

Ancient Egyptians worshiped Bastet for various reasons; the reasons changed over time indicating the fickle nature of the whole process. Latterly Bastet was a protector of motherhood and fertility. Bastet was a protector of pregnant women and children. Ironic then that the necks of kittens were ritually broken to seek favours from this god (votive offerings). 

Votive offerings are still made today (2012) and are offerings to supernatural forces or beings for favors in return. Personally, I see votive offerings of deliberately killed kittens as an expression of self-indulgent, misplaced beliefs resulting in cat cruelty. 

I know that is a tough judgement but where animal suffering is concerned, I feel I have the right to make tough judgements. It is horribly depressing to realise that similar things happen today. Think about eating a tiger penis to improve your sex life! True. Or killing the domestic cat in a certain brutal way and eating it to improve your health.

This abuse of the cat in ancient Egypt would not have happened if the cat had not been domesticated. It is probable that the god Bastet would not have been invented but for the domestication of the cat. It is argued that domestication of the cat gives power to the human that can lead to abuse of the subservient partner. The relationship between cat and human became potentially distorted.

A study extracting DNA from cat mummies in researching the origins of the domestic cat by Jennifer Kurushima and her colleagues indicate that the domestic cats of ancient Egypt are the forerunners of today's domestic cats. It confirms what we knew already.

Cats were bred in catteries and sold in their millions for sacrifice, Jennifer says. The thousands of mummified cats in tombs and catacombs usually had "ritually broken necks".

"Millions of mummies were offered and buried in areas throughout Egypt", she says. My personal opinion is that we need to adjust our view of the ancient Egyptian's relationship with the cat. Perhaps we think that because the Egyptians were the first to domesticate cats, they liked and respected the cat.

I think it was more to do with using the cat to their advantage both as a utility animal in reducing rodent populations etc. and, as mentioned, to improve fertility or beauty or whatever else they desired through votive offerings. A harsh assessment but probably more truthful that a lot of the regurgitated platitudes on the internet.

The Egyptian Mau is interesting too, being the first domesticated cat - domesticated it is said from the African wildcat. In 2012, the feral Egyptian Mau - you could argue the true and purest Egyptian Mau - is abused and persecuted on the streets of Cairo etc.. There is a charity (EMRO) that has been set up to help and protect them.

By the way, as an afterthought, the cats that were bred in their millions for sacrifice would have been Egyptian Maus; not the sort of refined purebred cat we see today but a cat that was in fact nearer the truer Egyptian Mau simply by the fact that it was nearer the wildcat. They were not breeding for appearance (selective breeding) but for numbers. They were kitten mills or factories.

Associated: My lovely Egyptian Mau in Egypt. Egyptian Mau Belly Flap.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Egyptian Mau Outcrossed To Feral Middle Eastern Cats

We are told by the secretary to a Cat Fanciers' Association sanctioned show (Golden Triangle Cat Fanciers all breed cat show) in Canada that the Egyptian Mau cat was so rare 20 years ago that problems developed in the breed because the gene pool was too narrow.

What the person is referring to, I believe, is that if the foundation cats are few and all future cats of the same breed are bred from these few foundation cats you can get inbreeding and with inbreeding you can get health problems because recessive genes that have health consequences come to the fore. The Bengal cat has few foundation cats causing health problems in the breed such as HCM and Bengal Nose (I would argue that but many will disagree with me).
Egyptian Mau at a cat show  - not the cat show referred to in this post.

When inbreeding becomes a problem breeders have to outcross to a totally fresh cat or cats that are not part of the breeding lines to introduce fresh genes into the breeding programmes. These cats are carefully selected. I suppose it must make the concept of "pedigree" somewhat redundant even though the offspring are no doubt referred to as pedigree cats.

In this case, the lady in question, show secretary Nancy Grandison, tells us that the solution to the narrow gene pool with respect to this popular cat breed, was to find a healthy population of feral cats in the Middle East - I hope she means in Egypt where there are many feral Egyptian Mau cats - and to import some of these cats back into the country and use them as breeding cats.

Photo by April Spreeman.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Defining the Common genes in mitochondrial DNA control region of Modern Native Egyptian Mau

This is a scientific paper written by an Egyptian scientist, Moataz A. Abdelghafar. I am very impressed with his desire and ambition. Please read the paper and assist him. This is a specialist area and the article is probably work in progress but it is nice to receive a request to publish work by an young Egyptian person who wishes to research the Egyptian Mau, a major cat in the cat fancy. Please click on the link below to see his work. When you click on it you will receive a download request for a PDF file. This is an entirely safe file and is in this format because of convenience.

The opening para reads as follows:

The purpose of this project is to compare the DNA of present day spotted cats in Egypt with Egyptian Mau, standard breeds overseas, and ultimately with that from a mummified cat, to see if there are any markers in either or both of the modern day cats to the original Mau cats. The Egyptian Mau - Felis silvestris ornate- is the only spotted domestic cat that developed on the link to read the article...


Egyptian Mau.

Previous article

Thursday 8 March 2012

Analysing the Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau is one of the ancient cat breeds it is thought. The history is interesting and it spans the four thousand years or so from the time when Egyptians first domesticated the wildcat to the present day in the feral Egyptian Maus wandering the streets of Egypt. How pure are the feral Egyptian Maus and are they similar to the ancient Maus?

An interesting concept is that the feral Egyptian Mau in Egypt today are more purebred that the finest purebred Egyptian Maus in the United States and Europe.

Moataz Ahmed Abd Elghaffar is a young Egyptian scientist who has a keen interest in answering some fundamental questions about the Egyptian Mau. In a proposed study his objectives are to:
  • Prove that native Maus in modern Egypt are similar to the ancient Maus;
  • Prove that Maus in Egypt are purer than overseas Maus and to
  • Establish the differences and similarities between native Maus and overseas Maus.
The good thing is that he lives and works in Egypt. He has first hand experience of relating to the modern Egyptian Mau living in Egypt.

He intends to analyze:
  • The overseas Mau in Texas, USA 
  • Native Mau in Cairo, Egypt and the 
  • Mummified Cats of Ancient Egypt.
Moataz's proedure will be to take two check swabs of living Maus and a hair sample of a mummified Egyptian cat. The first sample one will be taken from a native Mau, the second will be taken from American Maus and the third sample will be taken from a mummified Egyptian Mau. Then DNA will be extracted from the swabs followed by a test on the DNA.

In outline the procedure for testing the hair of a mummified Eyptian Mau is as follows:
  • Cut 10- 15 hair roots about 0.5 cm into a 1.5ml eppendorf tube.
  • Use 50 ul of the following lysis buffer: 10mM Tris pH 8.3, 50mM KCL, 0.5% Tween
  • Also add 10ul of 20ug/ml solution of Proteinase K in 10mM Tris-HCL (pH 7.5)
  • Vortex for 30 seconds. 
  • Ultracentrifuge at 13000 rpmfor 1 second.
  • Incubate overnight in a 56 - 60oC waterbath.
  • Incubate for 10 minutes at 94oC ( to denature the proteinase K  I presume)
  • Cool down to room temperature.
  • Ultracentrifuge at 13000 rpm for 1 second.
  • Ready DNA for your PCR
Cheek swabs will be taken of the feral and USA Maus.

I look forward to hearing about the results. It is said that there is no trace of the original Persian cat in the modern Persian cat. It is likely that there is no trace of the original British cats in the modern British Shorthair and American Shorthair. Selective breeding has seen to that.  I wonder how original any of the modern cat breeds are.

Monday 7 November 2011

Outstanding tabby cats can look like an Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau kittens. Photo: Helmi Flick published here with her express permission.
Some feral and domestic cats look like Egytian Maus. The Egyptian Mau is a purebred cat. It has a spotted tabby coat. It is a refined looking cat because it is purebred (selectively bred). However, it Egypt they are all over the streets. There are feral Egyptian Maus in Egypt and in the region. This refined purebred cat in the USA has ancestors that are feral cats and before that the African wildcat.

You will see some stunning random bred cats both feral and domestic that are similar to the Egyptian Mau because they have a similar long term history - they both come from the Africa wildcat some 5-9,000 years ago.

For this reason it is not uncommon for people to question whether their random bred cat is an Egyptian Mau or an Egyptian Mau mix. It is almost certain that the cat is neither. It is just that they came from the same stock thousands of years ago.

The picture right is of a nice looking random bred cat with a tabby pattern. The human keeper asks, "Is Apollo an Egyptian Mau?...Hi, This is my cat, Apollo. Could he be part Mau? Thank you!"

The probable answer is that Apollo is neither an Egyptian Mau nor an Egyptian Mau mix but a really nice looking cat. One extra tell tale sign is that Apollo seems to have a mackerel tabby coat (striped) and the Mau's coat is spotted. Thanks for asking though.

Friday 28 October 2011

What is a classic tabby?

The classic tabby is a tabby cat, either, purebred or random bred, that has a blotched pattern. A blotched or classic tabby pattern is one of dark swirls and blotches as shown in the photograph.

The other two tabby patterns are the mackerel (stripes) and spotted. The Egyptian Mau, a purebred cat is the best known domestic cat that has a spotted tabby pattern. The picture on the right shows a purebred Egyptian Mau.

The tabby coat is arguably the most natural of all the cat coats because it provides the best camouflage, although the modern domestic cat is an urban cat.

See cat coats tabby for lots more on the tabby cat.

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