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How to Identify a Bombay Cat

By Jane Meggitt | Updated September 26, 2017

A Bombay cat sports a jet black, glossy coat, but there are lots of solid black cats out there, and very few of them are Bombays. How do you tell the difference between a Bombay and a generic black feline? While you must observe the cat closely, it's not just his looks that give you a clue to his origins. The Bombay boasts an unmistakable character.

Bombay History

A relatively recent breed, the Bombay was created in the 1950s by a Kentucky breeder who crossed sable Burmese with black American shorthairs. The Cat Fanciers Association Inc., awarded the breed championship status in 1976. The CFA still permits outcrossing to sable Burmese and black American shorthairs in registering Bombays.

Bombay Appearance

The ideal Bombay resembles a miniature panther. Males are larger than females, maturing at about 12 pounds or more, while female Bombays range from 8 to 12 pounds. Distinguishing features include:

  • A round, short-nosed head.
  • Large, round copper or gold eyes. 
  • Big-boned and muscular, but compact body.
  • A swaying type of gait, resembling that of the panther.

Bombay Purrsonality

Bombay cats aren't just bred for color, but for their distinct personalities -- or purrsonalities, as the case may be. They're an active feline, and the sort of cat that dog lovers might enjoy. That's because they have several canine-type characteristics, such as a penchant for leash training, playing fetch and an outgoing, affectionate temperament. Normally, a Bombay isn't aloof or a "fraidy" cat. He usually likes other cats, plays well with kids and is fine with dogs.

Bombay Health

Most purebred animals are predisposed to some sort of health issue. For the Bombay, these potential health problems include heart disease, specifically heart muscle thickening, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Less serious ailments include excess tearing. Bombays with exceptionally short noses may exhibit breathing difficulties -- keep them in air-conditioned rooms in hot and humid weather.


Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.