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USA: Nile Valley Egyptian Maus (NVE's)

3. OFF-SITE - Mewsletter #4

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a story to tell you.

Six thousand years ago, the ancient peoples of Egypt developed an extraordinary respect for the African wild cats that inhabited their Valley, and imbued one of their most beloved goddesses with the traits of those wild cats. Over the next 2 thousand years, they forged a
mutually beneficial relationship, bringing together two independent species into a relationship of equality unequaled in the history of the world, before or since.

We know from the ancient Egyptians themselves, from their art, literature, myths, and religion, that there were no domesticated cats in Egypt 6,000 years ago. 4,000 years ago, domestic cats had found such an important place within that culture that they were commonly kept as household members. We know that the ancients loved their cats and
considered them members of their family, desiring to keep them after death, through all eternity.

Twenty-five hundred years later, around 500 A.D., the Egyptians began a national conversion to the mono-theistic religion of Islam, abandoning their worship of the old Egyptian gods, including the goddess associated most closely with cats. In so doing, they also abandoned their relationship with those animals, leaving them to run loose in the
streets, alleys, and fields of Egypt.

As cats will do around the world, those ancient domestic cats adapted...and thrived.

Most extraordinary of all, while people have forgotten the ancient bonds forged over 4,000 years ago, the cats have not. The descendants of those ancient cats can be seen today running loose in Cairo, Luxor, and Abu Simbel. If you walk through those streets, a few feral cats will still approach you, and attempt to make friends with you.

They do this despite the fact that there are no animal cruelty laws in Egypt, and the Egyptian government itself until a handful of years ago practiced poisoning and shooting as their only means of animal control.

1,500 years of feral living have not wiped out the ancient genes that made cats and people companions, family members, and equals.

Today, a small group of people...3 catteries, a rescue shelter, and other interested and caring people...have registered these living artifacts of ancient Egyptian culture with TICA, The International Cat Association, as an Experimental New Breed, the Nile Valley Egyptian,
arguably the most ancient surviving domestic cat breed in the world.

I would like to introduce to you, today, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen and Tamara Fretz, of the Nefertari cattery, one of those 3 catteries, who have brought three Nile Valley Egyptians to show you.

Tanta is a rescue from the streets of Egypt, found through the Egyptian Mau Rescue Organization, and exported to Switzerland, one of the first two Nile Valley Egyptians registered with TICA.

Tanta is father to Atum and Abi, also full-blood Nile Valley Egyptians. Their mother is Mause, who could not be here today, but who is also registered with TICA.

With them, they also brought their beloved pet, Bunefer, whose parents are registered as Egyptian Maus, but one of which also came from the streets of Egypt. She is not eligible to be registered as a Nile Valley Egyptian, but she demonstrates the appearance of the Nile Valley Longhair cat, also registered with TICA as part of the Nile Valley Breed Group.

Reported by Ms. T.P. Wilson

 

NVE - Nile Valley Egyptian Cats

Nile Valley Egyptian Group

The Nile Valley Egyptian group is a TICA Experimental New Breed group made up entirely of rescued Egyptian ferals and their descendants.  Dr. Leslie A. Lyons' genetic research group at U.C. Davis proved scientifically in 2010 that all modern domestic cats descended from Egyptian domestic cats.  Egyptians have not kept pets for 1,500 years, so Egyptian ferals represent the oldest living domestic cats in the world. 
The Nile Valley Egyptian is a short haired cat, and the Nile Valley Longhair is a semi long-haired cat.  Both breeds have long legs, a medium-length and -breadth muzzle, large ears, and an alert and intelligent demeanor.  There are some indications that these cats are average size to extremely large, due to their geneticly close relationship to African wild cats. 
Both Nile Valley breeds exist in 2 general color divisions: "Standard" and "Lybica". 
"Standard" reflects the genes that were first exported from Egypt, and therefore, appear in pedigreed cats and street cats around the world.  The first impression is that they look just like any feral cat found anywhere. 
"Lybica" represents the oldest genes of all, those of the African wild cat.  As happens with many breeds that carry the original wild agouti gene, all Lybica Egyptian cats have distinct, high-contrast stripes in the middle third of all four legs ("bracelets" or "cuffs"), on the last half of the tail, and on the forehead, and many have an unbroken "necklace". 
What is different about the Nile Valley Egyptian is that the "mantle" (back, sides, upper third of all four legs, and first half of the tail), forms a completely separate pattern area.  The mantle is always consistent within itself, and will have one (and only one) of a variety of markings, stripes, spots, broken stripes, elongated spots, and marbling, or even the agouti pattern known from Abyssinians.  Markings on the mantle may be distinct and high-contrast, like those on the legs, tail, and face, but they may also be faded to varying degrees, anywhere from 0% to 100%. 
Like lion cubs, kittens with distinct, high-contrast markings on the mantle may have those markings fade with maturity, while the stripes on the middle of the legs ("bracelets"), end of the tail, and forehead remain clear and distinct.  We are seeing this happen between the ages of 1 year and 2 years. 
Lybica colors may mimic the natural camouflage often seen in African wild cats, with red occurring particularly on the back of the ears and hind legs in otherwise gray, silver, or brown individuals.  This reddish color is not the x-linked red of the Standard color division, but is the result of the action of the agouti gene in depositing both eumelanin and pheomelanin in bands on individual hair shafts.

Color Definitions
Granite – agouti colors, non-self colors
Sand, Camel, Date - varying shades of brown and brownish-black granite
Carnelian – deep red  granite with a slight orange cast: x-linked
Electrum – light golden granite (natural metallic alloy of silver, gold and copper)
Nefertiti Blue – blue-gray granite
Peridot – light green with slight yellowish tone
Topaz – orange- or brownish gold
Terracotta - reddish brown
Umber - Yellowish brown
Slate - dark gray, nearly black

Lybica

Sand Granite, Camel Granite, Date Granite
Carnelian Granite
Electrum

Nefertiti Blue - (Lybica markings faded)
Gray Granite
Black (Lybica markings can be seen in strong light)
Tortoiseshell (Lybica markings should appear in black/blue areas)

Lybica and White

As above with any amount of white (color suppression)

Standard

Black - peridot or topaz eyes Lybica Standard

Red

Tortoiseshell

Dilute tortoiseshell

Standard and White

Bi-color
Black and White - peridot/topaz eyes, slate gray eyes
Red and White

Calico

Dilute calico

Van Pattern

White with small black, gray or red patches and dark ringed half or full tail

 

Nile Valley Egyptian Mau – History

The Nile Valley Egyptian (NVE) is both the newest, and the oldest, domestic cat breed in the world. 

Registered with TICA (The International Cat Association) in September 2010 in their Experimental New Breed program, the Nile Valley Egyptian is a Natural Breed indigenous to the Nile Valley area of Egypt. 

Natural Breeds are created by cats living in a natural environment, without human intervention. 

The Nile Valley is a natural laboratory.  Surrounded on three sides by the Sahara Desert, and on the fourth by the Mediterranean Sea, it has been 5,000 years since the last time that natural animal migration could take place, either into, or out of, the Nile Valley. According to two different genetic studies done in 2007 (The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/repr/add/domesticcat_driscoll2007.pdf, "The Ascent of Cat Breeds: Genetic Evaluations of Breeds and Worldwide Random Bred Populations", U.C. Davis study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267438/), all domestic cats are descended from one of five feline "maternal Eves", all of which were members of the species Felis Sylvestris Lybica, the African wild cat.  No other wild feline species gave rise to the domestic cat, Felis Catus. 

While it is possible that felines may have been domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago, we know from archaeological evidence that cats were domesticated in Egypt, and were kept as domestic pets 5,000 years ago.  Historical evidence argues that at that time domestic cats were unknown anywhere else in the world, as they were highly prized by people around the world, and the only known source for them was Egypt.  Ship captains, in particular, with their legendary problem with rodents on board ships, were so eager to acquire cats that when they found Egyptians would not sell them, they resorted to stealing them. 

As a result, there is no evidence that any cats domesticated outside Egypt in previous centuries survived into historical Egyptian eras, certainly not in the Mediterranean Basin area. 

The U.C.Davis study demonstrated that Egyptian ferals are their own distinct group, within the larger Mediterranean Basin group. 

In Cairo, which is the same geographic area as the Bastet temple where Egyptian cats were first domesticated, we have discovered feral cats that look amazingly like the African wild cat, and unlike any breed outside Egypt.  The existing evidence is that these are the surviving bloodlines, the direct descendents of those originally domesticated Egyptian cats, from the Bastet temple in Bubastis. 

In addition, we find what appear to be "ordinary street cats", appearing to be the same as any cats running feral in any city of the world.  These would be the surviving bloodlines of the cats that were exported from Egypt in the pre-Christian era, to be carried by humans around the world. 

However, the current Egyptian government places no value on these Living Egyptian Artifacts, these survivors of 1,500 years of neglect and feral living.  Their policy has been one of poisoning and shooting feral cats, and since 99% of all cats in Egypt are feral (and many of the cats kept as pets are imported from other countries), the Nile Valley Egyptian is now threatened in its own, and only, home. 

EMRO and a group of breeders have banded together in an effort to save as many of these ancient, unique, and precious cats as we can, the Feline Missing Link between the African wild cat and all domestic cats of today around the world.  To that purpose, we are working to bring the Nile Valley Egyptian breed to full recognition by TICA, and hopefully eventually by all the cat registries. 

We invite you to join us in this effort to save the only living Egyptian artifacts that still survive, through adoption of these animals, sponsorships, donations and spreading the word about this ancient breed. EMRO carries Native Egyptian Mau cats which are a subsection of NVE cats.  

For more info on these cats please also check: http://www.terraforming.com/maati/.

 

Nile Valley Egyptian Mau - Colors

The Nile Valley Egyptian is a medium-sized short-haired cat, with long legs, a medium-length and -breadth muzzle, large ears, and an alert and intelligent demeanor.  The tail may or may not be "fluffy", and there may be a suggestion of a "ruff" around the neck.

The Nile Valley Egyptian exists in 3 general color divisions: Standard, Agouti, and Lybica
Standard is the same colors that you see on streets in cities around the world.  These are the oldest genes that were exported from Egypt before the Christian Era, and are mutations that occurred naturally within the Nile Valley of Egypt.  We see black, x-linked red, spotted white, and dilute colors such as blue-gray.  We do not see Dominant White, Siamese, or other, more recent mutations; however, this may change with time as we learn more about this ancient breed. 

Agouti is recorded in tomb paintings during the Egyptian Dynastic period, and look much like the Abyssinians of today.

Lybica represents the oldest genes of all, those of the African wild cat.  All of these cats have distinct, high-contrast stripes in the middle third of all four legs, on the last half of the tail, and on the forehead, and many have an unbroken "necklace".  The back, sides, upper third of all four legs, and first half of the tail, along with the sides of the face, form a completely separate pattern area, and is always consistant within itself.  This area will have one (and only one) of a variety of markings, stripes, spots, broken stripes, elongated spots, and marbling, or even a solid color or agouti color.  Markings such as stripes and spots may be distinct and high-contrast, but they may also be faded to varying degrees.  Like lion cubs, kittens with distinct, high-contrast markings on the back, etc, may have those markings fade almost, or even completely, into obscurity with maturity, while the stripes on the middle of the legs, end of the tail, and forehead remain clear and distinct, resulting in a color pattern unknown anywhere else in the world. 

Lybica colors tend to be "blended" instead of being distinct as seen in the Standard color division, i.e., colors may mimic the natural camouflage often seen in African wild cats, with red occuring particularly on the back of the ears and hind legs in otherwise gray, silver, or brown individuals.  This reddish color is not the x-linked red of the Standard color division.

EMRO will attempt to group the cats in the shelter and offsite in one of these categories. Most of the Native Egyptian Maus we advertise would fall under the NVE category of Lybica.

Written by T.P. Wilson

 

 

 

(Updated June 1, 2011)

 

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