Bombay Cat: A Black Beauty

Close-up image of a Bombay Cat walking on a wall
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Black cat and bad luck have long since been associated with each other. Even in shelters, black cats have a severe disadvantage because people tend to be leery about adopting them. This is all very unfortunate because black cats really have a lot of love to give, and they are very eye-catching as is evidenced by this unique all-black breed—the Bombay cat.

Although considered to be a miniature version of the black leopard, far from being dangerous, this is a gentle, loving, and affectionate breed that gets along well with all family members but will pick one to be the center of their attention. This is a moderately active breed that enjoys playing but will also spend a lot of time lying curled in their owner’s lap. This breed is highly adaptable and well suited for apartment living or with other pets. They will be a devoted companion to an owner who showers them with attention.

Black male cat show interest at photo camera

In this article, we will provide you with all relevant information on Bombay cat behavior, personality, and temperament. Also, you will learn about Bombay cat lifespan and common Bombay cat health problems.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Very Good; no hereditary illnesses

  • Al Around Friendliness: Very Good; quite attention-seeking

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average; tends to get overweight

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Crossbreed
Weight6 - 12 pounds
Lifespan15 - 20 years

This breed was developed in 1965 in the United States of America by Nikki Horner from Louisville, Kentucky. To develop a breed that will resemble a miniature black leopard, Nikki crossed a sable Burmese cat with a black American Shorthair. Nikki named this breed Bombay because of their resemblance to the black leopard of India.

Bombay cat size is medium with a strong and muscular body; they are heavier than they look. Their coat is short, dense, close to the body, and silky to the touch. This cat breed only has one color variation—black to the roots. Their coat gleams like polished leather. This breed sheds little; their short coat only requires minimal grooming in order to keep it spotless and shining.

Astonishing Pleasant Bombay Cat sitting on a wood

Bombay cat personality is gentle, loving, fun, playful, affectionate, and attention seeking. This breed is highly adaptable to different living conditions, other pets and smaller children. They are known for being affectionate with all family members, but they will pick that special person who will receive a larger amount of their attention.

Bombay cat behavior is dog-like in the sense that this cat likes to follow their owner’s every step and to be involved in daily activities. Their dog-like personality makes them a good choice for households with dogs and children. This breed will challenge other cats for dominance and will get along well with them only if they are acknowledged as the leader.

This breed is known to be a frisky eater, so finding the right food for a Bombay cat shouldn’t be a problem. They have a tendency to overeat, so it is advisable that you stick with the recommended amounts of food that are appropriate for your cat’s age and activity level. To keep their bellies full but to prevent overfeeding, it is best to split their food into two or three smaller meals.

Close-up image of a Bombay Cat looking up to her owner

Bombay cat health problems are not oft-reported, and this breed is generally of good health. To maintain your cat’s condition, it is important to take them to regular vet appointments, to get them vaccinated, dewormed, and spayed/neutered. Bombay cat lifespan is long, and with proper care, they can live from 15 to 20 years.

Main Highlights

  • This breed was developed in 1965 in the United States of America by Nikki Horner.

  • Nikki wanted to create a breed that will resemble the Indian black leopard, and she accomplished that by crossing a Sable Burmese cat with a black American Shorthair.

  • Bombay cats are medium in size, with an athletic and muscular body. These cats are often heavier than they look.

  • Bombay cats have a large, round head with widely-set rounded ears and a short muzzle. Their characteristic round, coppery or golden eyes bring a spark of color in the appearance of this black beauty.

  • Their dense, short coat that is close to the body is completely black and shiny.

  • The coat of this breed is not prone to shedding and needs to be groomed only once a week to maintain its softness and glow.

  • These cats are gentle and well behaved. This is an attention-seeking breed that doesn’t like to be left alone for longer periods of time.

  • They are loving and affectionate towards all family members but will choose their special person, who will be the center of their attention.

  • Because of their playful and gentle nature, Bombay cat is a perfect choice for families with smaller children or dogs.

  • Bombay cats get along well with other cats only if they succeed in gaining the position of the dominant cat in the household.

  • This breed loves to eat, and you shouldn’t have any difficulties choosing the right food your Bombay cat. But because they love to eat so much, they are at risk of getting overweight, so it is important to stick with the recommended amounts of food appropriate for your cat’s age and activity level.

  • With proper care, this is a healthy and long-living breed; their lifespan can range from 15 to 20 years.

Breed History

In the 1950s, an American breeder called Nikki Horner from Louisville, Kentucky wanted to develop a breed that would be a miniature version of an Indian black leopard. The first attempt wasn’t successful. She tried a second time in 1963 by crossing a Grand Champion sable Burmese cat with a black American Shorthair male with copper eyes.

After a long process of line breeding and outcross breeding, Nikki was able to produce a totally black cat with golden eyes. Even today, American Shorthair cats and sable Burmese are allowed to be outcrossed with Bombay cats. Nikki named this new breed Bombay because of its resemblance to the black leopard of India.

Beautiful Bombay Black Cat lying down near a wall

This cat was recognized as a breed by the Cat Fanciers Association and given championship status in 1976. In 1989, a pair of Bombay cats was exported to France where they established a European line of this breed.


These cats are medium-sized with an athletic and muscular frame. They are heavier than they look, and like with other cat breeds, males are larger than females. Males weigh from 8 to 12 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh from 6 to 10 pounds.

A Beautiful Bombay Black Cat walking on the grass

The Bombay has a large, round head with a short muzzle. Their ears are medium-sized—slightly curved and set widely apart. These features make this breed look like they are always alert. Their round, gold or copper-colored eyes emphasize their gorgeous looks.

Personality and Character

These cats are gentle, loving, playful, fun, affectionate, and attention-seeking. Because of their adaptability, calm, and tolerant nature, these cats will make a fine companion to any type of home. Their dog-like behavior helps them get along well with cat-friendly dogs; they will also get along nicely with other cats if they acknowledge that the Bombay is the alpha.

bombay-cat-sitting and looking in front of her

These cats will follow their owner around the house and won’t settle for being left alone for longer periods of time. Bombay cats will form a strong bond with all members of the family but will pick one member to be the center of their attention. This is a moderately active breed that likes to play but also loves to spend time lounging on their owner’s lap.

These cats can sometimes come off as loud because they tend to purr more than other breeds. They are known to vocalize their needs and will certainly try to “talk” with their owner. This is a highly intelligent breed that enjoys playing with puzzle toys, and they are more than capable of inventing games to entertain themselves.

Health and Potential Problems

Although this breed is usually healthy, we will list some conditions that may occur so you can take steps in creating a preventive health plan.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that affects the left ventricle and its ability to pump blood into the aorta. Because of the extra workload, the left ventricle thickens and becomes enlarged. The role of genetics is not yet determined, but it is associated with this condition that often occurs in cats that are 5 to 7 years old. Symptoms of this condition include loss of appetite, lethargy, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart sounds, and sudden heart failure. To diagnose this condition, your vet will use ultrasound, radiogram, or EKG. Depending on your cat’s condition they might get hospitalized for appropriate care and therapy. This condition is manageable with the right treatment and regular check-ups.

  • Eye Discharge can be caused by anything from a simple cold to a serious illness. If you notice that your cat’s eyes are watering, that they paw at their eyes, or squint, take them to the vet to determine what’s causing this. Common causes for this condition are feline upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, corneal disorders, uveitis, and allergies. Treatments vary and can include antibiotics, eye ointments or drops, immune-suppressing drugs, or surgery.

  • Breathing Difficulties often occur in cats with short muzzles; the cat experiences troubled or labored breathing, called dyspnea or polypnea. Symptoms include breathing with an open mouth, noisy breathing, or faster breathing than normal. Causes for breathing difficulties are diseases of the nose, throat, lungs, low oxygen level in the blood, asthma, and tumors. Your vet will listen to your cat’s chest, run blood count, biochemical profile, and urine analysis. Treatment will depend on the final prognosis, and your cat will be given oxygen and medication.

  • Obesity is as commonly seen in cats as it is in humans. Because Bombay cats like to eat, they are at a higher risk of getting overweight. When a cat is obese, they are at a higher risk of developing other health problems, so it is important for every owner to address this issue. The best way to help your cat lose weight is to limit their food intake and to increase their activities. Give your cat the appropriate amount of food and get involved in daily play sessions that will help tone their muscles and keep them in shape.

To keep your Bombay cat healthy and protected from common feline diseases through their long lifespan, you should take them to regular vet check-ups, get them spayed/neutered, dewormed, and vaccinated.

Care Features

This is a playful breed, but they can sometimes be overly calm, so it is up to you to remind them to be active. Play with your cat daily for 15 minutes at least to keep your cat entertained, and so their body will stay healthy and toned. Bombay cats are highly intelligent, and they love to play with puzzle toys; they are also easily trained to walk on a leash.

Bombay cat meowing

Start brushing your cat’s teeth from a young age to prevent the development of periodontal diseases. If your cat isn’t accustomed to this routine, you can use dental rinses or wipes to keep their teeth healthy and clean. Trim your cat’s claws once in two weeks, and if you are not sure that you can do this safely, take your cat to the groomer who will do this for you.

Use a damp cloth to remove any eye discharge. Never use the same piece of cloth for both eyes; if one of the eyes is infected, you can spread the infection to the other. Check your cat’s ears weekly, and if they seem dirty, use a cotton ball with a mixture of the half cider vinegar and warm water to keep them clean.

Feeding Schedule

Like other cat breeds, Bombay cats also need to eat food that is rich in protein from meat and fats. This breed is famous for their love of food, and you shouldn’t have problems finding the right fit. No matter which type of food your cat chooses, dry or tinned, it is important to stick to the recommended amounts labeled on the packaging.

Close- up image of a Bombay Cat sitting

Split your cat’s meal into two or three smaller ones, and serve them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Treat your cat no more than twice a week, ideally, so this won’t affect their eating habits. Keep the water bowl clean, easily accessible, and always full of fresh water.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

With the exception of their golden eyes, Bombay cats are completely black. Each hair is black to the root and makes the coat look glossy. Bombay cats have a dense, short coat that is close to their body and silky to the touch. Many Bombay kittens are born with a tabby coat that gets its shiny black color as the kitten grows.

The Bombay cat is always black and sometimes called a parlor panther.

The glossy, dense fur of the Bombay is not prone to shedding, and it’s easy to maintain. This breed needs to be brushed once a week to keep their coat clean, to remove excess hairs, and to distribute the skin oils through the fur.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Bombay cat’s friendly, gentle, and outgoing personality makes them a perfect choice for families with children. This playful and attention-seeking breed enjoys the heed that they get from children who love to play and interact with them. Their dog-like behavior helps them get along well with cat-friendly dogs, but the otherwise-tolerant Bombay cat will challenge other cats for dominance and assert themselves as the top cat of the household.

Wrap Up

The affectionate and attention-seeking Bombay cat will make a perfect addition to every home, and their personality is suitable for people of all ages. This breed develops a strong bond with their owner and their need for attention will not let them tolerate long periods of solitude.

This is an intelligent and loyal breed that will follow your every step during their long and generally healthy lifespan. The looks of this golden-eyed black beauty will steal your breath away, and their loving personality will take a special place in your heart.

A Bombay cat lying on some rock near a water

Who says black cats are the harbingers of bad luck? The Bombay cat only has loads of love and devotion to give. If, however, instead of a black leopard you prefer a cat that resembles the cheetah, check this breed out. If you have more information or opinion about the Bombay cat, please share it with us and our readers in the comments section below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.