Carol Babel has loved cats since she got her first one at age 2. Her husband Bob Weller was also a cat lover. Now they have a cattery, breeding and competing the mysterious (even mystical, some believe) Maus that date back to Egyptian times. With their cheetah-like back legs, Maus can run at 30 mph and jump six feet in the air. They're strong swimmers, too - strong enough to retrieve ducks, as they once did for the pharaohs. Oh, and they make perfect pets - if you like cats with lots of energy.
Did your husband think it odd you wanted to go to a cat show on your second date?
No, because we both loved cats. It was at that show that we saw a silver Egyptian Mau for the first time. Both of us fell in love.
Do you think they are, as some say, mystical?
I don't know, but once you look into their pale green eyes, you'll never be the same. We say they melt your heart and capture your soul. That's what happened to us.
A Mau was featured in the movie "Catwoman" with Halle Berry. It breathed life back into her and gave her special powers ...
The Egyptians certainly revered these cats. If one died in a household, the family would go into mourning and shave their eyebrows. Hieroglyphics show them riding the shoulders of pharaohs. Mummified remains of Maus have been found - we saw cat mummies with the signature spotted fur in the Cairo Museum. And look at the similarities between Egyptian women like Cleopatra and the cats. They outlined their eyes in black like the Maus' and they wore multiple bracelets to mimic their striping.
How rare are they?
There are fewer than 5,000 in the world.
What are they like as house pets?
Maus are very intelligent and very high energy. On a scale of 1 to 10 for energy, they're a nine - it may not be for everyone. They're also very social and want to be with you all the time. They're very dog-like. They come when you call their name. They're self-taught fetchers; they'll bring toys to you. It no doubt is a throwback to the duck hunting they did with the pharaohs.
I bet they have a good life at your house ...
They do. We give them a lot of attention, especially the kittens. We love playing with them, sometimes until midnight. They sleep in our bed. In the morning they have classical music and in the afternoon they watch TV.
What do they watch?
They really do love "Animal Planet," especially if they can hear and see birds.
This article appears in the July 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine