1998 - 2011

Association Internationale du Mau Egyptien (AIME)
fondée le 20 février 1998, membre du collège des clubs de race du LOOFet F.F.F.
Tel: O3 29 32 61 21 - mail : info [at] mau-egyptien.org mailto:info.aime [at] orange.fr
21 Octobre 2014

The experience of a club dedicated to the Egyptian Mau breed for 15 years

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From the very start and its creation in 1998, AIME has been very active regarding the protection, promotion and breeding of the Egyptian Mau. Those who are familiar with the world of breeding or who were interested in the Egyptian Mau were able to see that we worked hard and obtained considerable results. It seemed interesting to us to summarize here our main actions.

The database

The Mau was introduced to breeding in 1954 by princess Troubetzkoï. To date, it represents several thousands of Maus and it is understandably quite difficult to redraw all the lineages. Marie-Christine HALLÉPÉE, our late president and founding member of the association, got down to this task and listed most of the breeding cats starting at the origins, at least when the information could be found. This huge work gave birth to a database of about 4000 Maus. It also allowed Didier HALLÉPÉE, vice-president and founding member of the AIME, to establish the family trees of the first generations, those at the origin of the 'historic' lineages.

Besides its undeniable historic value, this database can also be seen as a precious genetic tool. It allows the computation of consanguinity rates between breeding cats on a number of significant generations (around ten) in order to minimize the impacts. It also allows tracking undesirable genes in order to avoid the appearance of undesirable characteristics such as the blotched or the rufus (see below) and to preserve the Mau's unique beauty. Finally - precautionary principle - it can help in detecting and eliminating some regrettably too classic genetic diseases that usually appear when the practices of breeding are not optimal but which fortunately have not yet struck the Mau.

The fight against consanguinity

Breeding of the Mau started with 3 subjects imported by princess Troubetzkoï: Gregorio, Geppa and Lulu. With such a start, consanguinity was an unavoidable phenomenon. However, numerous generations later, a sensible choice of breeding cats allows us now to obtain acceptable rates (less than 10 %).

Consanguinity can be a tool of selection to highlight such and such characteristic. It's very appreciated (and used) by breeders who privilege beauty and results in shows. Why not? But consanguinity also tends to highlight unwanted characteristics and, used in excess, it weakens the lineages. To the Mau, endemic consanguinity became quite upsetting in the past. That's why AIME has always strongly fought against consanguinity and established strict principles which were followed by our breeders, the result being that after years of constant drop of consanguinity rates, they are now stabilized at a very low level. Thanks to that policy, our cats are sturdy, of dazzling health and stable character. We came to notice that when inverse principles were applied, the lineages could present the problems which we want to avoid..

The introduction of fresh blood

In order to fight against consanguinity, we introduced new subjects from Egypt. Indeed, is there a better or more natural way than to go back to the source and get authentic descendants of the cats of the Pharaohs?

Of course, it's not that easy. For 4000 years, the Egyptian feline population has greatly diversified and in a country where the breeding of cats doesn't exist, to say the least, it's hard to find subjects at the same time presenting all the characteristics of the Mau and devoid of undesirable characteristics that could spread genetically.

Marie-Christine and Didier HALLÉPÉE got down to this task. In 1999, they brought back from Egypt a magnificent male, Sâhouré de Fondcombe, which was shown in exhibits in France and in Germany where it was recognized as an authentic Bronze Egyptian Mau by renowned international judges.

In 2003, Didier HALLÉPÉE went back to Egypt in order to get Otta de Fondcombe and Maslama de Fondcombe. Otta was neutered after a unique litter. As for Maslama, he followed the good example of Sâhouré.

These Egyptian cats are magnificent bronze-coloured cats of an exceptional stature. As for the character, one can find all the characteristics of the Bronze Egyptian Mau, possibly even accentuated.

Their use in the association's breeding programs allowed us to achieve our goal: bring down the consanguinity rate as close to zero as possible. Their non-intensive use in our breeding programs also helped not to recreate the conditions of a new wave of consanguinity.

Coming directly from Egypt, they showed (as expected) a stronger and more feline character. But according to our expectations, their offspring significantly softened while still preserving the strong personality of the Bronze Mau. The beauty and character of their children and grandchildren allowed some of them to participate in shows and win titles (proof of their beauty and obedience). One of them, Senefer, even succeeded in becoming a Best Supreme in one of those shows.

Quite a few Maus in the United States originate from Sâhouré's and Maslama's offspring.

The work on standards

Thanks to the relations AIME keeps with the whole world of the Egyptian Mau, we have acquired a rare knowledge of the standards current in the various feline associations: Loof, CFA, Tica, FIFe. So, when Loof decided to update its standards, we participated in its work and helped to take into account the small differences which could exist between them. Thanks to our work, we also emphasized what differentiates the Mau from the other races and what undesirable characteristics could be introduced by hybridization. The new Loof standard takes into account the work of the association.

The promotion and protection of the Bronze Mau

The Bronze Mau was, for a long time, the least appreciated Mau in France. Fewer numbered, it was rarely shown in exhibitions. Less spectacular than the Silver Mau, it was also less popular.

From the start, AIME worked so that the Bronze Mau too could find its letters of nobility. It was shown in exhibitions as often as possible and was systematically present during Breed Specials where it raised itself to the first places.

The beauty of its patterns perfectly distinguishes it from the house cat. Its coat is bronze-coloured with yellow sub-hair and black spotted patterns. The most beautiful are effectively well contrasted on a warm color, just like these cats of the Pharaohs which we have often met in Egypt. A colder shade of bronze, however, remains magnificent.

In the 80's, an American breeder used the Egyptian Mau to create the Bengal. Subtle choices of breeding led on one hand to the Bengals and on the other hand to the 'Indian' lineage, represented by Bronze Egyptians Maus strongly tinged with red (rufus). For a long time, these two types were sometimes difficult to differentiate before the Bengal stabilized in accordance with its current standard.

In the United States, the main associations recognized either the Mau or the Bengal. The risks of confusion thus mattered little.

Bronze Mau and Bengal are nowadays two fully differentiated breeds and this difference is well in evidence in the standard of the Bronze Mau. This distinction allows to protect the existence of two magnificent cats which have each their specific beauty.

As for the public, it fully appreciates the authentic aspect of the Bronze Mau, which so very strongly reminds of the feline representations which can be found on antique Egyptian monuments, as well as its very pronounced feline character.

The recognition of the Black Mau

The colour of the Mau is determined by 2 genes. It thus produces 4 colours: Silver, Bronze, Black Smoke, Black.

Silver is the most spectacular colour. The public is extremely sensitive to it!

Bronze is the most authentic colour: 4000 years of Egyptian tradition and a very strong feline character.

Black Smoke (smoke grey with silvery sub-hair and black-spotted patterns) is the subtlest colour of the four, revealed by lighting effects. Its character is softer, but it tends to be distant with foreigners.

And, for a long time, the standards were limited to these 3 colours. The unfortunate Black Mau, the victim of the rigours of the genetics, did not deserve the name of Mau and was even forbidden of reproduction. Obviously, black on black, it's not spectacular. Its sweetness, even more pronounced than that of the Black Smoke, did not bring to light its feline authenticity! Let's note that in the United States, CFA recognizes the Black Mau in the breeding programs but not in the shows.

AIME obtained the recognition of the Black Mau. This wonderful companion is henceforth fully recognized, authorized for reproduction and can even participate in shows under NRC (New Breeds and Colours). But it can't aspire to the titles.

Given its rarity, it will be difficult to get one, but you must know that it's a magnificent companion worthy of its more contrasted friends.

The conservation of the standard

A completely pure race doesn't exist: there are always some recessive genes which the selection can rarefy but never totally eliminate. The corresponding characteristics can then re-appear. Sometimes, the clumsiness or inexperience of a breeder can facilitate this resurgence.

With the Mau, we sometimes have kittens which, far from being spotted, present a marbled pattern called blotched. The first characteristic of the Mau being to be spotted (even in black on black), this pattern is banned. The kitten thus cannot be considered as a Mau. It is, however, a magnificent companion which will make the enjoyment of its new family.

It came to our attention that some people declared this type of cat as Mau and made them reproduce even if it meant perpetuating the presence of this pattern in the race. Others in France wish to see this pattern recognized. For AIME, it is not desirable and it's a practice against which we fight.

Red colour (rufus polygene) in the Bronze Mau also is against the standard. It's passed on generation to generation, is difficult to eliminate, and gives the Silver Mau unwanted reddish colourings.

For these reasons, AIME fights for the respect of the standard which represents the characteristics of the race. Some people might feel free to try all the 'improvements' about which they dream, but not with the Mau nor by using it. 4000 years of tradition deserve an effort of continuity.

DNA Tests

Our magnificent cats are kind, obedient, and so on. They would never dream of reproducing in secret, without letting their breeders know, even with a cat of another race. Only in a Walt Disney cartoon can we see Duchess choose Tom O' Malley the alleycat!

Of course, accidents can happen. As the genetic characteristics of the Mau are almost always dominant, the breeder can even be deceived by the appearance of kittens.

The seriousness of our breeders renders this type of involuntary error improbable. But the potential buyer is entitled to a guarantee rather than to good words.

Henceforth, genetic tests allow to prove in an unquestionable way the filiation of cats for a reasonable cost.

This is why AIME asks its approved breeders to offer their buyers the guarantee of filiation offered by the genetic tests.

The sharing of experience

AIME is a human-sized association. So all information is shared and that sharing is made even easier by the fact that friendly relations unite us.

So, we have set our hearts on sharing our feline experiences. This sharing enriches our knowledge and helps us all implement the best policies and easily resolve small or big problems which can appear, for the biggest profit of our companions.

Shows and specials

AIME encourages its breeders and cat owners to participate in numerous shows in France and abroad to make our magnificent companion better known.

Furthermore, we sometimes participate in the organization of Egyptian Mau specials, great moments that allows us to meet amongst friends with our 4-legged companions for the biggest pleasure of the public.

Although we only are a handful, we were on occasions able to gather up to 30 Maus of all colours and origins.

These various specials are also a strong moment in the life of our feline judges. Furthermore, they allow us to measure the progress of our breeders with the increasing quality of the exposed subjects.

The Gazette

Since 1998, AIME publishes a small newspaper in French and English language for the benefit of its members.

This gazette allows us to stimulate the link which unites us and contributes to the memory of the association.

The book

Our knowledge of the Mau allowed Didier HALLÉPÉE to write a book on this subject. Do not rush at your bookseller's, though, it hasn't yet been published. But someday, maybe...

 

 

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The Egyptian Mau, fantastic companion !
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The impact of our imports from Egypt in 1999 and 2001
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le chat et l'Egypte - cat in ancien Egypt

 

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