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Bombay Cat Facts

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close-up of a Bombay cat with gold eyes

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the big, wild cats that roam plains and jungles could become household companions? While, of course, people cannot own big cats in their apartment or suburban home, around 60 years ago, one woman did wonder how close she could breed a domestic cat to resemble that of a wild cat. Sure enough, after several attempts, she succeeded and created what we now know and love to be the Bombay cat.

Overview of Bombay Cats

These sleek-looking, mini black panthers are sociable, playful, and smart. These cats have a striking appearance and a personality that is rather unique compared to many other cat breeds.

Although the Bombay is a medium-sized cat, due to their muscular build, they oftentimes weigh more than they may appear. The average Bombay cat size can be anywhere from 8 to 15 pounds and around 13 to 20 inches in length. How long Bombay cats live can be determined by many factors, but an average lifespan is anywhere from 12 to 18 years—some Bombays have even lived to be in their 20s.

What Is a Bombay Cat?

The Bombay breed of cat was first created in 1958 in Louisville, Kentucky, by the cat breeder Nikki Horner. Her goal behind this new type of cat was to develop a domestic feline that resembled its wild, much larger counterpart—in other words, she wanted a house cat that looked like a miniature black panther.

Although the creation of this miniaturized jungle cat is most often credited to Nikki Horner, the Bombay was also bred in the United Kingdom. The American Bombay is a cross between sable Burmese and Black American Shorthairs, while the British Bombay is a cross between Burmese and Black Domestic Shorthairs.

Although they are crosses of different cats, the British and American versions of the Bombay virtually have the same physical look and personality traits. This international cat was recognized and registered by the Cat Fancier's Association in 1970.

woman holding a black cat with green eyes

Attributes of the Bombay

Although at first glance Bombays may look like every other black cat a quick way to tell Bombays apart is that they have an entirely black coat (all the way to the roots), and their nose and paw pads are also black. Another signature trademark of these sleek felines is the infamous and stunning Bombay cat green eyes. Some Bombays can also sport gold to copper-colored eyes.

The Bombay cat personality can easily be classified as extroverted—these are social cats who like to make their presence known. Not only will these cats follow you around the house like your shadow, but they also enjoy talking to whoever is near and willing to listen.

Along with having an extroverted personality, these cats enjoy receiving lots of attention, so they do not do well with being left alone for an extended period of time. If they will be alone while you are at work, it is recommended that you leave a plethora of toys scattered about and even have a scratching post available.

By providing entertainment, this will give your cat mental stimulation and (hopefully) discourage them from scratching the furniture or being destructive while you are away. When you are around, they will gladly play with you—most Bombays will even play fetch or walk on a leash.

While their social and kind personality makes Bombays a great choice for people with children or multiple pets in the household, it is worth taking note that these cats enjoy being the ring leader and center of attention.

Grooming and Care for Your Bombay

Just like any other cat breed, Bombays require proper grooming, care, and health checkups to ensure that they live a long and happy life.


One of the many benefits of owning a Bombay is that they do not shed very much. However, just because these cats are low shedders, that does not mean that Bombay cats are hypoallergenic. It is recommended that you brush your Bombay at least once a week—this will help keep their coat clean and shiny.


Most pet parents are probably not used to brushing their cat’s teeth, but this may be a habit you should consider beginning. Even just a weekly brushing can help decrease the likeliness of your cat getting periodontal (gum) disease. It’s important to start the habit of brushing your cat’s teeth early—this will allow them to become acclimated to this habit at a young age.


Your cat’s nails should be trimmed on a regular basis—some pet parents choose to do this every other week. Providing scratching posts or other scratching cat toys will additionally help wear down your cat’s nails.


The Bombay’s ears are a “clean as needed” item. It’s recommended that owners keep an eye on their cat’s ears and only clean them out when they become dirty. When the ears do need to be cleaned, you can simply use a gentle cleaner (veterinarian recommended) and a cotton ball—just don’t use cotton swabs.


Bombays can become quite eager about their food, so overeating may lead to obesity. An easy way to avoid this issue is to measure out your cat’s food and to only provide the measured amount in the bowl at a time.

We are all familiar with the saying, “curiosity killed the cat.” With Bombays being a naturally curious and social cat, it is best to keep your Bombay indoors. Not only will this decrease the risk of your cat contracting an unwanted disease, but it will also reduce other risks such as your cat running away or getting into an altercation with other animals.

black cat playing with a pink toy

Common Bombay Health Issues

Bombays are an overall healthy cat breed. However, it is always great practice as a pet parent to keep an eye out for potential health issues that have been known to affect this breed.

According to our claims data*, the top 5 most common health issues among Bombays include:

  1. Respiratory issues
  2. Unsettled stomach
  3. Pneumonia
  4. Bronchitis
  5. Asthma

One of the other few health issues that can affect your Bombay is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM, which is the most common heart disease found among cats, is when there’s an unusual thickening on a wall of the cat’s heart. HCM is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged cats.

One of the best ways to keep your Bombay in great health and to catch any issues before they progress is to schedule regular visits with your veterinarian.

Fun Bombay Facts

Being such a lively and amusing breed, who wouldn’t want to know more facts about these mini panthers?

  • They are oftentimes mistaken for Burmese cats—Bombays are typically larger in size.
  • These cats get their name from the port city of Bombay, located in India. It is in this location that black panthers (which Bombay’s were bred to look like) can be found.
  • These cats go by many nicknames, which include: mini black panther, the patent-leather kid with the new penny eyes, and parlor panther.
  • Bombays are known for seeking out the warmest spots in the house, so they will oftentimes curl up under blankets, in your bed, or in spots of sunlight.
  • On occasion, a sable kitten will be born in a litter of otherwise completely black Bombay kittens.

Names for Your Bombay

Check out some name suggestions for the new addition to the family!

  • Bagheera
  • Felix
  • Salem
  • Binx
  • Pluto
  • Nox
  • Raja
  • Cosmo
  • Athena
  • Willow
  • Mango

*Internal Claims Data, 2019

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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