Bombay cat breed: the jet-black panther whose eyes are easily mesmerised

László Enikő

2023. October 3 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Bombay is a stunningly beautiful, clever cat who loves to play and thrives best in a family where he can learn lots of tricks and have plenty of time for fun.


You’re lucky to have a cat like this to share your everyday life with, because the Bombay is not only stunningly beautiful, but also smart, calm and fun to be around, and loves to flatter its owner. Never intrusive, never demanding attention, just happy to be attended to. Some say this cat is ideal for those who want a cat, a monkey and a dog in one body!


Cat breeders often experiment and create new breeds, either by building on natural genetic mutations or by crossing breeds to get a new look, colour or pattern. Named after the exotic port city of India, the Bombay has no connection with the subcontinent. It was created by crossing brown Burmese with black American Shorthair to resemble a miniature black panther.

The breeder Nikki Horner of Louisville, Kentucky, is credited with the breeding of the bombay, and began working with the new breed in the late 1950s. Her goal was a smooth, shiny-coated black cat with a muscular body and friendly temperament. Horner named the breed Bombay because it resembled the black panthers of an exotic port city in India. British breeders achieved the same appearance and personality by crossing Burmese and black short-haired house cats. The main difference between the American and British varieties is that the latter’s eyes are mostly green.

A Cat Fanciers Association
gave full recognition to the bombay in 1978. Today the breed is recognised by all cat associations. To preserve their body type and coat, bombays can be crossed with brown burmese. The CFA also allows crossbreeding of black American Shorthairs, but this is rarely done due to differences in body type.

Breed standard

The Bombay is considered to be the blackest purebred cat. Not only his coat, but also his feet and nose are always black. Her stunningly beautiful coat is shiny and smooth,
colour all black
. With the exception of colour, the Bombay and Burmese standards are very similar. While the Burmese cat’s body is compact and massive in appearance, the Bombay’s body is of medium length and more lithe in appearance than its Burmese cousin. It weighs about 4-7 kg. The bombay has a “rounded” head and a short snout. Its striking eyes are large, and its colour is a brilliant golden copper. The ears are moderately large and sit far apart. Tail medium long, straight. Expected lifetime 15-20 years.


The bombay is a very friendly cat, even with strangers. So, when the doorbell rings, don’t be surprised if your pet arrives at the door before you do to greet the guest. Most of them have a distinctive, but not loud, voice when they want to communicate something to their owners. The Bombay is often good at retrieving and even likes to walk on a lead. This is a smart cat who loves to play, learn and have fun with his owner. He is always where his favourite two-legged friend is, loves to be flattered and is a very affectionate and loving companion.

Ideal environment

Lively and affectionate, Bombay loves people and adapts to many different environments and lifestyles. His calm nature makes him a good indoor cat, and he is happy to live with other pets, although he would prefer to be the leader. He also likes children, so he can be a good companion for families. The Bombay is usually comfortable in the warmest corner of the house, and will even take a nap under a blanket. But the best place to be in winter is probably the radiator. As he is very social, people-oriented and very intelligent, if he is left alone at home, it is worth keeping his sharp mind occupied with some intelligence games.


The Bombay’s short, smooth coat is easy to groom with weekly brushing to get rid of dead hairs. He rarely needs bathing, but his teeth should be brushed regularly. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe the corners of the eyes to remove secretions. Use a separate area of cloth for each eye to avoid the risk of spreading infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them with a cotton pad or a soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using an ear cleaning stick as this can damage the inside of the ear. Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Like all cats, the Bombay is very sensitive to hygiene.

Common health problems

The Bombays are generally healthy, although one of the genetic diseases observed in the Burmese has also been observed in this breed. Sometimes called Burmese Head Defect (craniofacial), the skull-face disorder is sometimes seen in newborn kittens with severely deformed heads. These cats are put to sleep so those who buy Bombay cats will not encounter this problem, but breeders should be very careful not to breed cats that carry the gene for the defect. The breed may have excessive eye tearing and respiratory distress due to the short muzzle, as well as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is the most common form of heart disease in cats. It causes thickening of the heart muscle (Hypertrophy).

bombay short-haired cat species description

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