Have you ever looked at the face of what you thought was a striped tabby cat, but when you saw the rest of its body, realized it was actually spotted? Most likely you met an Egyptian Mau ("mau" is the Egyptian word for cat.) These elegant, midsized cats are the only natural domesticated breed of spotted cat. And yes, they really did originate in Egypt.
Betsy Whitlock, a cat breeder at Belle Hollow Farms and Exotics in Franklin, North Carolina, says technically, the Egyptian Mau is called a spotted tabby.
"The pattern on them is a tabby pattern, the "M" on the forehead, the stripes by their eyes," she says. "Their legs are striped. The difference is that primarily on their bodies where they once had stripes, the stripes have broken apart back into spots, which is the natural color of cat, as opposed to stripes. Most wild species are spotted or start spotted and become solid-colored."