Bombay Cat: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Bombay cat walking

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The Bombay has the distinction of being the blackest cat in the cat fancy. Once the cat is mature, the coat is black to the root, short, tight and extremely shiny. Even the paw pads are black. It is hard to say what is more eye-catching about the Bombay: its golden eyes or its shiny black coat. The combination is striking.

The Bombay is a small, muscular cat and deceptively heavy. When you pick one up, you will be surprised at its heft. Bombays walk with a sway reminiscent of the black panther.

Breed Overview

Weight: 6 to 11 pounds

Length: Up to 20 inches

Coat: Short

Coat Color: Black, tight shiny coat down to the roots

Eye Color: Gold

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Characteristics of the Bombay Cat

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Bombay Cat

This lovely cat breed is the result of the dream of a long-time cat breeder and exhibitor, Nikki Horner of Louisville, Kentucky. Horner coined Bombay cats as "parlor panthers," and described their look like the "patent-leather kid with the copper penny eyes." They are named "Bombay" because they are as sleek as Indian black panthers. This cat is also known for the tricks it can be trained to perform like fetching items or heeling on command.

The Bombay is a fully domestic, man-made breed: a cross between a black American shorthair and a sable Burmese. The Bombay was accepted by Cat Fanciers Association in 1976 and the breed is also recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association.

Outcrossing to both sable Burmese and black American shorthairs is still allowed by the Cat Fanciers Association, although the Bombay is a true breed with its own particular look and characteristics. While sable kittens may be produced in litters, especially if one of the parents is a sable Burmese, this quintessential black cat is only allowed to be shown in black at Cat Fanciers Association events.

In appearance, the Bombay looks very much like a Burmese, however, the Bombay will often be a bit larger and not quite as compact as the Burmese. The head of a show-quality Bombay will be round with a short muzzle. Because the Bombay is a blending of two very different breeds, it is often difficult to produce show-quality cats. Most litters will contain more pet-quality kittens than show-quality. Even though they may not have such a rounded head and short muzzle, the pet-quality kittens will have all of the other characteristics of the breed and will make wonderful companions. They are slow ​to mature in appearance and may not display all of their characteristics until 18 months of age.

Bombay Cat Care

The Bombay is a wonderful union of both parent breeds. It loves attention and to be carried around, often on its caregiver's shoulder. In fact, Bombays are truly "lap fungus." It is very hard to get them off you once they are seated.

A Bombay cat is likely to bond most with one family member. Your Bombay will follow you from room to room and will almost always have something to say about what you are doing. If you are looking for an affectionate cat, the Bombay is a good choice. But if you are rarely at home, a Bombay may suffer from the lack of attention.

Bombays are also wonderful with guests, children, and dogs. You will not find a Bombay hiding under the bed when company arrives. Your Bombay will be part of the greeting committee. While focusing on a special person, this cat will not be aloof with anybody.

Bombays are a good choice for a bustling household as they adapt well to living with people and other pets. When your cat isn't interacting with humans, look for it to be resting near a heating vent as they love heat sources.

The short coat of a Bombay is easy to care for with a little brushing about once a week. You will rarely need to bathe a Bombay.

A relatively active breed, the Bombay is always happy to play. The American shorthair influence tones down the activity level to a bit less than the Burmese. The Bombay is also a little less vocal than the Burmese, but not always. They are very opinionated and truly have their own idea of how the household should be run.

The Bombay is intelligent and trainable. You can play fetch with a Bombay and even train one to walk on a leash.

Common Health Problems

Be sure to take your cat for regular veterinary check-ups and get the recommended vaccinations and preventative treatments. Bombay cats are considered to be generally a healthy breed. Here are a couple of conditions the cats may be prone to:

  • Sinus problems and runny noses
  • Craniofacial defect (a common Burmese condition), which is a severely deformed head at birth. These kittens are usually euthanized.

It is recommended that you spay or neuter a Bombay at 5 to 9 months of age. This breed reaches sexual maturity as early as 5 months.

Obesity can shorten any cat's lifespan, so you should monitor your cat's weight and take action when it has put on excess pounds. Be mindful of dental hygiene with regular toothbrushing to prevent gingivitis.

Keeping a Bombay as an indoor-only cat will help prevent many diseases, fight injuries, and prevent accidents that can shorten a cat's lifespan.

Diet and Nutrition

The Bombay breed does not have any special dietary requirements. As with all cats, it is recommended that you provide high-quality wet food and some quality dry food as well. If your cat is showing signs of obesity, discuss the feeding schedule with your veterinarian. Special diets may be needed for kittens, elderly cats, and cats with health conditions. Be sure to provide fresh, clean water for your cat.

Pros

  • Intelligent, trainable cat that can be taught to perform tricks

  • Highly affectionate, loyal usually to one family member

  • Friendly with strangers, children, and dogs

Cons

  • Can be considered a loud, talkative breed

  • Does not thrive when left at home for long periods of time

  • Attachment and need for attention can be too much for some

Where to Adopt or Buy a Bombay Cat

You may be able to find a purebred Bombay cat through a breeder in your area, but if you would rather adopt from a rescue organization, check out:

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide whether a Bombay cat is the right one for you, research their availability as they are still relatively rare. Talk to reputable Bombay cat breeders and owners. You may want to contact or join the Bombay and Asian Cats Breed Club.

If you are interested similarly colored cats and other breeds that share wild cat mannerisms, you may be interested in:

Otherwise, check out these other cat breed profiles.