Egyptian Mau Belly Flap

by Athena

Egyptian Mau
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Egyptian Mau “Cheops” added by Michael@POC – photo copyright Helmi Flick

Per your page on the Egyptian Mau:

He refers to the belly flap on this breed as a specific feature of this cat, which enhances running speed. Belly flaps are either loose skin related to fat loss or simply a normal feature found on many cats purebred or not.”

I had an Egyptian Mau for 13 years. The so-called Egyptian Mau belly flap was one thing I was curious about. It is not a (one, singular) flap at all, but two bags of *extremely* loose skin, which attach from the back knee up to the belly, i.e., the skin on the front of the thigh is enormously extended. This is most emphatically NOT related to “fat loss”. My six-month-old kitten had these flaps, and they increased in size as she matured, even though she never lost any weight at all.

I was most interested to notice, early on, that when she sat on her haunches, sometimes the “belly flap” would “puddle” around her lower legs, to the point that it formed a complete “skirt”, falling all the way to the ground around her, completely hiding her back legs and toes. It wasn’t until I saw this the first time, that I realized that the ancient Egyptian sculptures I’d seen for many years were *not* “artistic” license, but an actual portayal of the Egyptian cat…exactly as it looks.

About 50% of all ancient Egyptian cat sculptures do not show the back legs at all, but show the back half of the body as a smooth cylinder where it meets the ground. This is exactly what the Egyptian Mau looks like when the “belly flap” is fully developed and the cat sits on her haunches. I have *never* seen this image before with any other breed of cat.

RELATED: Challenging the theories about the cat’s primordial pouch or belly flap

Egyptian Mau breed traits:

1. natural (not human-bred) spot pattern
2. “belly flap” (2 bags of skin in front of the knee)
3. athleticism (leaping to the top of a refrigerator without even crouching is a common feat)
4. speed (an Egyptian Mau has been clocked running 30 mph)
5. goose-berry green eyes (some yellow is common, orange exists but is considered a flaw in terms of showing)
6. “bars” on the legs and tail
7. small tuft of hair over each upper eyelid, which gives the “perpetually worried” expression
8. “somewhat feral” personality; they can be difficult to socialize, but are extremely loyal when socialized, and tend to be “one-person” cats

Some talk about the “chortle” sound they make, however, from the description, I would say that all cats I have had, breed or Heinz-57, have made the same sound, and that my own Mau never made a particular “noise” that I hadn’t heard before from a non-Mau, so this may be a bit of a misnomer.

RELATED: My Mutt Cat With White Feet and Belly Flap

Hi, thanks a lot for this. I have linked to it from the Egyptian Mau page. It is useful and I like it when people make a useful and constructive contribution.

Regards, Michael

See more:

Egyptian Mau description and the best photos and/or the best and biggest slide show of the best cats.

Comments for
Egyptian Mau belly flap

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Feb 06, 2012Huge black cat with the flaps NEW
by: Anonymous

I found my flapped cat as a kitten abandoned outside. As he grew, I noticed the flaps. For along time I thought it was belly fat or from weight loss. It struck me as odd since he was never really fat. After watching Cats 101, they mentioned a breed with flaps on each side. the skin was not belly flaps but leg flaps. I examined Pooch’s flaps and indeed they are like attached to his legs like wings. He talks alot too-always meowing.

May 01, 2011Belly Fat, not Belly Flap
by: Mimesis

The above image does not display a belly-flap. That is a fat pad, or an accumulation of body fat in the lower abdominal area. Egyptian Maus love to eat, and many will quickly become overweight if they are overindulged by their owners. For the most accurate description of any feature of the Egyptian Mau, please refer to current breed standards or breed websites.

The CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) breed standard describes an ideal example of the Egyptian Mau breed. While the word “belly flap” never appears in the standard, it does describe the flap in some detail;
BODY: […]Loose skin flap extending from flank to hind leg knee.

The loose skin flap is also called a “belly flap” or a “Famine flap” as fat will quickly accumulate in it when an Egyptian Mau is allowed to overeat.

Apr 23, 2011Vets and Breed Characteristics
by: Fran Fontana

It is my opinion, and my experience, veterinarians are very good at treating illnesses and injuries, NOT breed specific questions. Yet, it would seem people consistently ask Vets about breed specific and/or physical characteristic questions.

Veterinarians are no different then human doctors. They are taught of the anatomical anatomy of the species they specialize in, be it animal or human. That said, doctors know how the human body works irrespective of race, creed, or color. The same is true of Vets, they know how the cat body works… regardless of breed and/or specific characteristics.

When questions like this arise, please consider speaking with a breeder or enthusiast. Most will give you the answers you are looking for along with a little history. The best part is, if they don’t know, they will tell you so AND go to their sources to find out more and get back with you.

Apr 23, 2011Aspects of the Mau Belly Flap
by: Fran Fontana

As many of you know I have an extraordinarily handsome Mau named, Satchamo. He has the belly flaps, yet he is very slender and long bodied. He back legs and feet are much longer and resemble the feet of a jack rabbit. It is my belief, the belly flaps are intended for speed … and my boy can run FAST.
There is another aspect to the belly flap Egyptian Mau’s have and that is the associated feathering. The feathering referred to is not unlike the feathering found on the Golden Retriever. These wispy hairs grow & develop with age.
The Mau’s fostered have also had this attribute unlike other shorthaired breeds.

Jan 23, 2011thanks
by: Anonymous

my cat is an egyptian mau and an american shorthair we never knew what the flaps were he is mostly a one person cat has the green eyes and he can jump really high without anyeffort so thanks for the info

Oct 13, 2010At last, great to know
by: Anonymous

I hand reared 2 kitties, both girls, rescued when only hours old, had been abandoned. They both have the Mau belly flaps – friends always thought they were fat and didn’t believe me when I said otherwise.

As I live in Oman in the Middle East seems likely that my girls are part Egyptian Mau, although one is calico on top she has the spots underneath and the face markings, and they both have all the other traits of the shape of head, the green almond eyes, mascara etc. They also both chortle and like a good “chat”.

Both fiercly loyal and both loving and attention seeking. So glad to have found about their flap at last – thank you so much.

Sep 15, 2010Black cat with belly flap
by: Blackie

This is the best info I have found on the belly flap. My 1 year old male has one. He was showing the trait early on, long before he was neutered. I have been concerned about it, but am relieved to know it is a normal trait. Thank You.

Aug 04, 2010Vet thought my cat was pregnant!
by: Ceparie

Great to know about my cats flap which is exactly as described (loose skin versus big belly). The county rescued this male kitten and he was fixed before I adopted him. I took him to the vet at 12 weeks who took one look at his belly and said my cat was pregnant which I explained was impossible. When he walks fast, the skin swings back and forth underneath him, there’s a good hand full there and it hangs down below his knees.

Jun 10, 2010FINALLY a detailed description of this belly fat!
by: mlherself

Thank-you so much for this well defined explanation of that feature referred to as the belly flap. I actually do not own an Egyptian Mau, not by pedigree anyway, but my 10 yr old spayed female American Short Hair [whom I adopted when she was weaned from her barn-cat mother] shares many features with the Mau, including this exact belly flap, which appeared at about five months of age (BEFORE spaying).

Now these long years later, that ‘flap’ is quite pronounced. On my kitty, one can see it even when she is not sitting, rather like an udder (less the teats). But the vets have always declared her to be of normal form and weight. Nonetheless it draws a lot of remarks from passersby, not all of them kind. I’d heard of the Mau’s flap and now, thanks to this discussion, I can see, absolutely, that it is the same.

I am quite sure that somewhere in my kitty’s ancestry, a sneaky Mau tom had himself a wild night out on the farm.

Dec 16, 2009So great to know!
by: Maria

I rescued a street kitten many years ago, and she’s also always had the exact two bags of skin characteristic of Egyptian Mau’s… I had ALWAYS wondered why this was, I even asked her vet what it could be from and he was clueless, thinking it an odd peculiarity of hers since she is a smaller cat never having weighed over 7 lbs. She also has the same personality traits and gorgeous green eyes associated with Egyptian Mau’s to where I’m now confident that she is indeed an Egyptian Mau mix. Finding this breed information puts a lot of my curiosity at rest, thanks so much!

Dec 12, 2009Belly flaps
by: Maggie

Hi there, what beautiful animals. I’m sure the extra skin attached from legs to body enables the cat to extend the body to it’s fullest thereby gaining extra power when doing those amazing leaps.

Dec 09, 2009Egyptian Mau belly flap
by: Anonymous

Hi, my Egyptian Mau female named Khadidjah has that bely flap thing going on since she was a kitten too. Here I have been thinking its obesity but seeing how common it is with this breed, I am happy to hear it. Her sister has the belly flaps too. They really remind me of udders on the cats.

Oct 30, 2008Thanks for the information
by: Anonymous

Hi, this is useful information. Looks like I got it wrong.


Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

4 thoughts on “Egyptian Mau Belly Flap”

  1. Great info….could this trait which my female (heinz 57 varity) also has be to help protect their vital organs during a fight since they fight with their back feet? This would have been useful hundreds of years ago like so many other things. Thankyou

    1. Hi Phyllis. The belly flap might also protect vital organs but I have not read conclusive evidence about that. Someone may have suggested it. Whereas the belly flap as a way of enhancing speed does make sense and it is generally accepted. Thanks for commenting and asking Phyllis.

  2. My 2yo mau, Ma’at, Is remarkably athletic-she’ll jump from the floor up to perch behind me on the back of my wheelchair and will ride along when I wheel about. She’s such a mama’s girl! I’ve noticed she has hyper mobile joints, and in combination with the extra skin, she can extend her body in a way that is remarkable. If you hold under her front legs (kind of in her kitty armpits) and at her knees when her legs are extended, she makes a sort of bowl shape. I think this flexibility contributes to her athleticism.
    Great post! I’m glad to know she’s not a freak of nature-I’d never seen a cat do some of the things she can!

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