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rec.pets.cats: Bombay Breed-FAQ
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Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997
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_The Bombay_ is a shorthair breed of domestic cat, closely related to
the Burmese. The Bombay is noted for its shiny black coat and copper
eyes and for its affectionate and playful temperament.
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 David Thomas, All Rights Reserved.
* History and Genetics
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Care and Grooming
History and Genetics
The Bombay was developed by Nikki Horner, a breeder in Louisville,
Kentucky. She set out to create a "miniature black panther" by
crossing sable Burmese with a solid black American Shorthair. Her
first attempts in the late 1950's were disappointing. A few years
later, working with different breeding stock, she began to get the
results that she was looking for: a cat with good muscular development
and a very short, close-lying black coat. Recognition and acceptance
of the new breed by the registering associations took 18 years; the
Bombay was accepted for championship in CFA in 1976.
Bombay breeders frequently outcross to Burmese to retain the body type
and coat texture. Almost no one outcrosses to American Shorthair any
more, because it is very easy to maintain the (dominant) black color
in the Bombay lines and such outcrosses would usually result in
undesirable body type. Some associations no longer permit outcrossing
to American Shorthair.
As a consequence, the Bombay shares many physical characteristics with
the Burmese. Nikki Horner considers the Bombay a "black Burmese", but
other breeders point out the physical differences. Bombays tend to be
a little larger, with longer bodies and longer legs than the Burmese,
and have a less pronounced nose break.
The gene for the black coat is dominant, but many Bombays still carry
the sable color as a recessive. A sable-colored kitten may appear in a
litter from a Bombay x Bombay breeding. If both of the parents are
heterozygous for black, one in four kittens will be sable, on average.
A Bombay x Burmese breeding will frequently produce some sable kittens
along with the black ones.
The Bombay also shares many of the behavioral characteristics of the
Burmese. They are adaptable to apartment living and are generally
calm. A Bombay will often accept dogs in the household more quickly
than it will adapt to the other cats. The Bombay often wants to be the
dominant cat in the household.
They are intelligent, actively seek interaction with humans and love
to play games. Many retrieve and do tricks. Some have been sucessfully
leash-trained. Like Burmese, Bombays are heat-seekers, and often like
to sleep under the bedcovers.
Both Bombays and Burmese have a voice that is distinctive, but not as
loud or harsh as the Siamese voice. Some individuals are quite
talkative, but others rarely vocalize.
Bombays reach sexual maturity relatively quickly, so owners should
plan on spaying females and neutering males between 6 and 9 months of
age. A few males have been known to sire litters at 5 months of age.
Their physical development, however, is somewhat slower. A Bombay male
may not reach his full muscular development until he is almost two
years old. An adult Bombay male will typically weigh between 8 and 11
pounds; females between 6 and 9 pounds.
Care and Grooming
Bombays generally have strong appetites. While most Bombays can
free-feed without becoming overweight, some Bombay owners find that
they must ration the food or switch to a low-calorie feed. Most
breeders use and recommend a high-quality dry food, but will
supplement this with raw meat to put on more muscle for showing. The
use of raw meat is risky, however, because of the danger of
The tight, short coat sheds very little and requires practically zero
maintenance. The Bombay is completely capable of grooming itself, but
a rubdown with the palm of your hand or a rubber brush is always a
welcome activity. There is very little seasonal variation in the coat.
In preparation for showing, exhibitors generally bathe the Bombay
three to four days before the show. This gives the coat time to
recover some of the natural oils that help give it the proper sheen
and texture. On the day of the show, a rub with a chamois cloth puts a
final polish on the coat. No texturizers, glosses, or powders are ever
needed on the Bombay coat.
Bombay Breed Standard (paraphrased from CFA and TICA standards)
The ideal Bombay is a medium-sized cat with substantial bone
structure, good muscular development, and having a surprising weight
for its size.
The head is round and medium-sized, with no flat planes or sharp
angles. In profile there should be a moderate stop; the forehead is
rounded, but not domed. The nose indentation does not form a 45-degree
angle, it is not to be considered a break, but there is an indentation
above the bridge, thus forming the change in direction from the
rounded forehead to the muzzle. The nose should be slightly rounded
down at the tip. The muzzle is short, but not "pugged" or "snubbed".
The chin should reflect a normal bite; neither receding nor
The ears are medium-sized, and wide-set, broad at the base and
slightly rounded at the tip; tilted slightly forward when alert.
The eyes are round, large and wide-set. The eye color should range
from gold to copper, with greater brilliance and depth of color
The body is medium-sized, neither cobby nor rangy. The legs are well-
proportioned to the body, with rounded feet. The chest should be ample
and rounded. The back is level from shoulder to tail. The tail should
be neither short nor long and whippy.
The coat is short and close-lying, with a fine, satin-like texture,
and patent-leather sheen. The color should be black to the roots.
Allowance should be made in coat color and texture for kittens and
younger cats up to two years of age.
Faults which are grounds for disqualification (withhold all awards): a
kinked or abnormal tail; incorrect number of toes; extreme exotic-type
nose break; nose leather or paw pads other than black; lockets or
spots; green eyes.
Comments on the Breed Standard
Although the CFA and TICA standards are worded similarly, there is a
difference in the emphasis on the various features mentioned in the
HEAD AND EARS CFA TICA
Roundness of head 7 10
Full face and proper profile 7 10
Ears 7 5
Chin 4 5
Placement and shape 5 10
Color 10 10
Body 15 20
Tail 5 5
Legs - 5
Shortness 10 -
Texture 5 10
Close-lying 5 5
Color 20 5
As in most breeds, it is difficult to correlate these point scores
with the way cats are actually judged. The imprecise wording of the
standard allows the judges considerable latitude in interpretation. In
practice, there is a great deal more emphasis placed on head shape in
CFA. This means that Bombays from "traditional" bloodlines, which
typically have longer muzzles, might fail miserably in CFA
competition, but become regional or even international winners in
TICA. This is true in Burmese, as well.
One is likely to see a significant variation in eye color, even in
show-quality cats. Many award-winning Bombays actually have gold eyes.
The standard calls for a brilliant copper color, but this is very
difficult to achieve. It is thought to be the product of at least two
genes: one for color and one for intensity. In addition, there is a
tendency for this eye color to fade or turn green in some individuals,
particularly in males around 3-5 years of age.
American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA),
Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA),
Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF),
The International Cat Association (TICA).
The Bombay has "experimental" status under the GCCF, but interest in
the Bombay in the UK is growing.
_ Magazine Articles_
"Lucky Black Cat -- The Bombay", Cat Fancy, July 1981, pp. 29-32.
"The Bombay", Cat Fancy, January 1988, pp. 36-41.
"The Bombay", Cat Fancy, October 1993, pp. 24-25.
_ Breed Associations_
International Bombay Society
Suzanne Zwecker, Secretary
5782 Dalton Drive
Canandaigua, NY 14425
There are a relatively small number of Bombay breeders in the
world, and most produce very few kittens each year. You probably
will have to get on a waiting list. If a breeder is not able to
provide a kitten within a reasonable time, he or she may refer you
to another breeder.
Disclaimer: These breeders have been recommended in good faith by
the author of this article. However, you are still responsible for
verifying that a particular breeder meets your needs to your
satisfaction. Additional breeder listings can be found in "Cat
Fancy" and "Cats Magazine" in the US and Canada, and in "Cat
World" in the UK.
Louis and Joan Simmons
Fenton and Judy Kovic
Gerard Scardino, MD
Kats 'n' Klamms
Ron and Wendy Klamm
Robin Williams and Lyn Schnug
David Thomas and Deborah Reed
Bob and Carol Winston
Last modified: 10 November 1994
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