Bombay: Cat Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Appearance, Personality, History, Care, & Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Black Bombay cat sitting on a kitchen rug

Grace Cary / Getty Images

With its shimmering, jet-black coat, rounded head, and brilliant golden eyes, the Bombay cat resembles a miniature panther, but the similarities stop there. This breed has no wild blood. A mix of the American shorthair and the Burmese breeds, the Bombay is friendly and sociable, making it a dream-come-true for feline fanciers who love the idea of cuddling a wild cat.

Breed Overview

Personality: Affectionate, sociable, needy, playful

Weight: Up to 15 pounds

Length: Up to 20 inches

Coat Length: Short hair

Coat Colors: Black

Coat Patterns: Solid

Eye Color: Gold or copper

Lifespan: Up to 20 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: USA

Characteristics of the Bombay Cat

Cats are known for being independent, but it seems Bombay cats "missed the memo." Bombays crave human company. If you work long hours away from home or travel a lot, then a Bombay might not be the best breed choice. They simply need too much interaction and will get depressed if left alone.

Because they are outgoing and sociable, Bombays will greet strangers with curious interest and are happy to play with kids as long as they are gentle.  Bombays even get along with friendly dogs and other cats, especially when raised together. 

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

History of the Bombay Cat

The Bombay was developed by a US cat breeder named Nikki Horner, who sought to create a cat breed that looked like a miniature panther. Although it took her many years, meticulously planned breedings of Burmese and American shorthair cats eventually resulted in a breed that bears the muscular build of a Burmese with a jet-black coat. Horner chose the name Bombay as a nod to India’s storied black panther (think: Bagheera from the Jungle Book), which was her inspiration for creating the new breed. 

The Bombay inherited various traits from its two founding breeds. Its body resembles the Burmese but is slightly longer and less compact, and it is also curious and sociable like the Burmese. The Bombay’s laid-back, "go with the flow" personality is credited to its American shorthair ancestry. 

The Bombay was accepted for championship status with the Cat Fanciers Association in 1976. The International Cat Association accepted the Bombay in 1979. Today, the Bombay breed standards permit out-crosses with either sable Burmese or black American shorthairs.

Bombay Cat Care


The Bombay’s short, fine satiny coat couldn’t be easier to groom. Simply brush this cat's fur once a week or rub it with a soft chamois cloth to bring out the coat’s patent-leather shine.

The Bombay is a very clean cat that sheds very little. Occasional baths keep the coat looking and feeling soft and glossy. Trim the nails every two weeks or so, and peek inside your Bombay’s ears every week or two to make sure they are not red or excessively dirty. Only clean your cat's ears if necessary to avoid disturbing their naturally healthy bacterial balance.


The Bombay cat is playful and curious. Bombay kittens have seemingly endless amounts of energy, but as they age, they become more mellow and are happy to cuddle up on your lap after a brief bout of exploration and play.

Bombay cats are intelligent, so they appreciate puzzle toys, which encourage them to physically manipulate devices to get treats or food. Bombays are relatively trainable cats and sometimes behave a little like dogs. Some enjoy playing fetch and are comfortable walking on a leash and harness.

Scratching is a natural behavior that’s good for all cats’ physical and mental health, but you want to show your cat the right places to scratch (not the couch!). Offer your Bombay a variety of acceptable surfaces for scratching, including vertical surfaces (scratching posts or cat trees) and horizontal surfaces (cardboard or sisal scratchers that lie on the floor).

Common Health Problems

Though the Bombay is generally a healthy and long-lived cat, a few genetically linked diseases are known to be present in the breed, including:

When searching for a cat breeder, ask if they offer a health guarantee for their kittens.


The Bombay has a stocky, muscular build and rounded head, resembling a mini leopard or jaguar. Its ears are medium-sized, and its large eyes range in color from rich gold to copper. The coat is fine and short, with a satin-like texture and shimmering, patent-leather sheen.

Diet and Nutrition

Obesity is a concern for all cats. Because the Bombay has a stocky build, it is vulnerable to weight gain. Staying lean helps prevent weight-related health issues like diabetes and arthritis, as well as heart disease, which affects the Bombay at higher rates than other breeds. 

Free feeding (leaving food out all day) can lead to too much snacking and weight gain. Instead, serve measured amounts of food twice a day for adult cats (kittens should eat three to four smaller meals per day). Ask your breeder or veterinarian for a recommendation for high-quality food for your Bombay.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Bombay Cat

There are a handful of Bombay breeders in North America, so it might take a little searching to find a kitten. It is not unusual for Bombay breeders to also breed Burmese cats. The Cat Fanciers' Association and the International Cat Association both maintain lists of active breeders on their respective websites. 

You can also visit a cat show in your area to connect with reputable breeders and meet many different cat breeds in person. To locate a local cat show, do an internet search for “cat show near me.”

Although it’s not unheard of for a Bombay to end up in an animal shelter, purebred Bombays in need of re-homing are often placed into new homes by breeders. Luckily, there are many beautiful black cats, similar to Bombays, in shelters across the US that need loving homes.

Bombay Overview

  • Affectionate and spirited

  • Easy-care coat with minimal shedding

  • Friendly with people and other pets  

  • Hard to find

  • Needs a lot of attention

  • Prone to heart and respiratory problems

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.

  • How much does a Bombay cat cost?

    Most purebred Bombay kittens cost between $500 and $700, but top-quality breeding cats may cost as much as $2,000.

  • Do Bombay cats shed a lot?

    The short, silky coat of the Bombay does not shed much and is easy to care for.

  • Do Bombay cats have health problems?

    Bombays are pretty healthy purebred cats, but some are prone to heart and respiratory problems as well as leaky eyes.