The Bombay

Breed Profile of the elegant "Parlor Panther" Cat

Bombay cat, Black cat
© / Getty Images

A guest feature article by Michelle T. Bernard

The Bombay is the parlor panther of the cat fancy, the "patent-leather kid with the copper penny eyes." This lovely breed of cat is the result of the dream of a long-time cat breeder and exhibitor, Nikki Horner of Louisville, Kentucky. The Bombay is a man-made breed, a cross between a black American Shorthair and a sable Burmese. The Bombay was accepted by CFA in 1976.

Outcrossing to both sable Burmese and black American Shorthairs is still allowed by CFA, although the Bombay is a true breed with its own particular look and characteristics.

While sable kittens may be produced in litters, especially if one of the parents is a sable Burmese, this quintessential black cat is only allowed to be shown by CFA in black. The Bombay has the distinction of being the blackest cat in the cat fancy. Once the cat is mature, the coat is black to the root, short, tight and extremely shiny. Even the paw pads are black. It's hard to say what is more eye-catching about the Bombay, the copper penny eyes or the shiny black coat. The combination is absolutely striking.

The Bombay is a wonderful union of both parent breeds. He loves attention and to be carried around, often on his caregiver's shoulder. In fact, Bombays are truly "lap fungus!" You cannot get them off you once they are there.

Your Bombay will follow you from room to room and will almost always have something to say about what you are doing. They are wonderful with company, children and dogs. You won't find a Bombay hiding under the bed when company arrives! They will be part of the greeting committee.

A relatively active breed, the Bombay is always happy to play.

The American Shorthair influence tones down the activity level to a bit less than the Burmese. The Bombay is also a little less vocal than the Burmese, but not always! As I said above, they are very opinionated and truly have their own idea of how the household should be run.

The Bombay is a small, muscular cat. When you pick one up, you will be surprised at how much he weighs. The Bombay is deceptively heavy.

In appearance, the Bombay looks very much like a Burmese, however, the Bombay will often be a bit larger and not quite as compact as the Burmese. The head of a show-quality Bombay will be round with a short muzzle. Because the Bombay is a blending of two very different breeds, it is often difficult to produce show-quality cats. Most litters will contain more pet-quality kittens than show-quality. Even though they may not have such a rounded head and short muzzle, the pet-quality kittens will have all of the other characteristics of the breed and will make wonderful companions. I have a particular fondness for the Bombay. My first show cat was a Bombay, GP Road to Fame's on the Wild Side, a/k/a Wiley, wiggled his way into my heart and soul. He graced my life for nine years until I lost him to acute renal failure in 2002.

I hope, someday, to have another panther in my parlor.

Michelle Bernard has spent nearly a decade digging into what makes cats bloom naturally with excellent health. A freelance writer who once bred and showed American Shorthair cats, she has been keeping her own cats vibrantly healthy using a raw meat diet, homeopathy, and plain common sense since 1993. Michelle is renowned for her sound approach to rearing cats and her writing on many aspects of holistic cat care.

Read the About Cats' review of Michelle's book, "Raising Cats Naturally." The image used to illustrate this article is a photo of GP Road to Fame's On the Wild Side. Photo is © Larry Johnson, and used with permission.