The Bombay Cat: Breed History, Fun Facts and Myths

Bombay Cat in Plant

The Bombay cat looks like a panther, walks like a panther, but is not a wild beast. It’s an affectionate and playful furry friend.

Curious to find out more about this breed? Let’s get a glimpse of its history and discover some fun facts about Bombay cats.

Bombay Cat Breed History

You have to love black if you want a Bombay cat because it generally comes in no other color. We say “generally” because a sable-colored kitten may occasionally appear in a Bombay litter. That’s because the Bombay cat is a hybrid breed — a cross between the sable-colored Burmese and the black American Shorthair.

American cat breeder Nikki Horner created this breed in the 1970s. The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized the Bombay breed in 1976, and the International Cat Association in 1979.

Bombay Cat Appearance

Bombay Kitten

The coat of the Bombay cat is shiny black, dense and short. This means it needs very little grooming. An occasional bath and a rub-down will be enough.

This medium-sized cat has a muscular body with a rounded head, round nose, and gold- or copper-colored eyes.

It is heavier than it looks, often weighing between 6 and 12 pounds. So, get ready if you see that your cat is about to jump on your lap!

Bombay Cat Behavior and Activities

Bombay Cat with Dog

The Bombay has an affectionate personality, which it inherited from the American Shorthair. In addition, it has an inquisitive nature, thanks to its Burmese ancestors.

Bombay cats get along well with kids, as well as with other cats and with dogs, though the Bombay tends to be dominant.

You’ll often find your Bombay cat rubbing around your ankles or cuddled in your lap.

Its playful, curious and intelligent nature means it’s always ready for a game or for chasing birds in your back yard. Also, it can easily learn new tricks.

An adaptable cat, it’s happy indoors, but it needs company.

Fun Facts About Bombay Cats 

  • Don’t be fooled by the name. This breed originated in America, not in the city of Bombay in India. Horner named the breed “Bombay” because she wanted it to resemble the black leopard of India.
  • A nickname of the Bombay cat is “patent-leather kid with new-penny eyes,” says Louisa Somerville, the author of the book The Ultimate Guide To Cat Breeds.
  • The Bombay is easy to train, and some owners even teach their cats to walk on a leash.
  • Your cat may become a stalker when it needs attention. No wonder some people nicknamed the Bombay “Velcro cat,” writes the author of When Cats Reigned Like Kings.

Dispelling Black Cat Myths

Bombay Cat Sitting

The myth that a black cat is bad omen might have originated in Ancient Greece. It somehow survived until today, along with “never walk under ladders,” “bad luck comes in threes” and other silly superstitions.

The Bombay is a bit supernatural, though, but in a wonderful way. These cats can do magic in your life: Being easygoing, intelligent and affectionate, they’ll win your heart, even if you didn’t think you were a cat lover when your partner brought home a little ball of fur with manga eyes. And, yes, you’ll love your cat even when it’s your turn to change the litter.

Final Thoughts

With a shiny coat and rounded body, the Bombay cat is an all-round beauty. It may look like a panther (or black leopard, to be nit-picky), but the only wild thing in this cat breed is its wild desire to keep you company and play with you.


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Christine Whitt
Christine Whitt


9 Responses


December 04, 2019

In recently found a photo of MY black cat used to illustrate a description of Bombay cats. He truly does fit the bill when it comes to appearance, personality and intelligence! One thing he does that is quite interesting to me: he loves to sit in the window and watch the lizards on the outside…when one of them moves away. He immediately runs to a window in the next room to catch it on the window in there! Do all cats have this instinct? My other sweet kitty, a tortie, does nothing of the kind! All in all, he is an amazingly beautiful cat…well, more like a dog! Yes, he is like a dog!😅 just adore my “ Bombay” boy!


November 22, 2019

I just recently found out I have a Bombay cat! He came to my house six years ago as a kitten. I immediately brought him into the house and started training him. First, he would go get his ‘Pinky," a pink toy mouse, and bring it to me. Then, I trained him to go get his collar and bring it to me to put on him. I always take the collar off at nights. I also took one of my other cat’s collar off, and without telling Jinx, he just automatically brought me Lulu’s collar, too!! They stand still and stretch their necks out a little for me to put the collars on! They then run into the kitchen and start meowing waiting for me to get them a little breakfast. Whenever I take their collars off around 6:00 p.m., an hour or so later, Jinx will pick up his collar and bring it to me, drop it at my feet and stare at me letting me know he wants more to eat!! I am simply amazed at what this cat does! It’s like having a little human in the house. He is extremely intelligent. He and Lulu and Molly (my other cat) always travel with me wherever I go.

Shirley Wilson
Shirley Wilson

October 30, 2019

My Black Jack is unlike any cat I’ve ever owned.He’s talkative, bossy, and sassy, hardheaded, and very energetic. If I don’t listen to him when he’s talking, he finds someone who will. He doesn’t lounge around and sleep.He bounces off the walls. He’s extremely affectionate after he gets to know you, but doesn’t like other cats. I have said from the get go that he acts like a mini panther..I love him to distraction.

Debbi Merritt
Debbi Merritt

October 22, 2019

I have had a couple of these wonderful kitties! Super affectionate and playful and talkative! I miss them both very badly. I am in a wheelchair and I am looking for another companion to last until the inevitable. RIP Smokey and Shadow’….

Kristy Gregg
Kristy Gregg

October 22, 2019

I made a post recently on Facebook to raise awareness about black cats being the most euthanized. It was widely received by my friends list, and I got to see so many furry friend pics and vids. This blog is very accurate. My boy is my Velcro cat, and smart boy. I’m so thankful for my little panther. 🍆


October 01, 2019

Lunar is everything you described. She comes when I whistle or ring a bell, she jumps up on her frame and stands with her neck out for me to put her collar on, ( I can’t bend down),) she fetches I never have to raise my voice to her, she understands a large vocabulary , and so much more. We’re so lucky to have each other 😀😽


July 30, 2019

My cat is bad, bites a lot and scratches. Does not like you to pet him much, he does stalk me and follow me around and has a lot of energy but he wasn’t good around a friends dog and doesn’t listen… not sure if I just got unlucky. Still love him I just know he isn’t a good cat. He always is getting into things too.

Lauren Kittell
Lauren Kittell

June 11, 2019

I adopted a black kitten from my local shelter last October and I thought she was just some kind of mutt with no identifiable ancestry, but now I’m wondering if she might be at least part Bombay. She is extremely affectionate and is like a shadow, does not mind wearing a harness but stays close to me even when not wearing it outdoors, and plays even more than my Siamese (almost every moment she’s awake). She is a shorty, probably a runt, but at over 7 pounds is a hefty little thing. Very inquisitive, too. She has to be locked up if we have any sort of workmen in the house or she’ll get in their tool boxes.


April 07, 2019

My Bombay plays fetch catch shakes hands wave by. By rolls over

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