At a glance, the Bombay closely resembles a friendly, miniature black panther with her sleek black coat, copper eyes, and distinctive sway to her walk. Even her paw pads and whiskers are black!
Originally bred in the 1950s from a sable Burmese and a black American Shorthair, this is a fairly small, muscular cat (weighing 7–12 pounds and standing 9–13 inches tall) who loves nothing more than being with her people. This makes her an excellent addition to a family that is prepared to give her plenty of attention—and a poor fit for a home where she would be left alone all day.
Caring for a Bombay Cat
Before bringing home a Bombay kitten, make sure you’re ready to meet her social needs. “Bombays are not content to just sit by themselves and wait for feeding time,” says Andy Valles, owner of Amalurra Burmese and Bombay Cattery in Minnesota. “They need regular quality time with their people in order to thrive and be happy. It really does not matter what you’re doing, as long as they can be a part of it too.”
A Bombay’s grooming needs are minimal, and the breed generally gets along with everyone (including children, strangers, and even the family dog).
Bombay Cat Health Issues
The Bombay is a healthy cat with a typical lifespan of 9–15 years, although they can live as long as 20 years. While there isn’t evidence of these breeds having specific genetic health issues, Bruce Kornreich, DVM, Ph.D., director of the Cornell Feline Health Center and a clinical cardiologist at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, says it’s important to pay attention to what reputable breeders say they see frequently in Bombays.
This anecdotal evidence, especially for breeds like the Bombay with such a small population, is often what leads to the studies that officially identify those issues. So, he says, anecdotal reports are important. In other words, if your breeder mentions that you should watch for any particular health issues, you would be wise to do so.
Valles says that, as Bombays enter their senior years, they may develop issues with their kidneys or pancreas. And, as with all cats, cancer is a possibility. Regular checkups with your veterinarian, including a physical exam and routine lab work (blood, urine, and fecal testing), are the best way to catch any of these conditions as quickly as possible.
Some common health issues you should be aware of before adding a Bombay kitten to your family include:
“The No. 1 most pressing nutritional issue in cats across the board is obesity,” Kornreich says. “Make sure you work with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat has the right body condition score.”
Keep in mind that only a few extra ounces on such a small animal can have a big impact. Obesity in cats can lead to decreased mobility and grooming challenges, in addition to increasing their risk of diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease, and more. Do your part to manage your kitty’s weight, especially as she ages.
The Bombay cat’s teeth require regular care. “The incidence of periodontal disease and gingival disease is really high in cats,” says Kornreich. “The best thing to do would be to brush the cat’s teeth regularly using cat-specific toothpaste, since human toothpaste can actually be toxic.”
Routine dental cleanings performed by your veterinarian are also essential to good dental health in cats.
What To Feed a Bombay Cat
“For healthy cats, the most important thing is that the cats are eating nutritionally balanced food,” Kornreich says. “The easiest way to look for that is an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label, usually near the nutritional information on the food, that states it is nutritionally complete and balanced.”
The food should be appropriate for your cat’s life stage (kitten food for growth, adult food for maintenance, senior food for gentle digestion). If your cat has health conditions, talk to your veterinarian about whether a specific diet can help.
How To Feed a Bombay Cat
Kornreich recommends against allowing your cat to graze freely, instead suggesting you put out a measured amount of food a couple of times a day. Whether you opt for wet food, dry food, or a mix, he says there are excellent options available. He recommends a bowl made of a nonporous, easily cleanable material such as stainless steel that allows enough room for your cat to fit her face and whiskers into it, to prevent whisker fatigue.
How Much Should You Feed a Bombay?
A cat’s size, age, activity level, and body composition will influence how many calories she should get per day. Use the label on your Bombay’s cat food as a starting point, and adjust as needed. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re unsure how much to feed your Bombay.
Nutritional Tips for Bombay Cats
As long as your cat is eating a high-quality, balanced cat food, she shouldn’t need any supplements unless your vet recommends them.
Behavior and Training Tips for Bombay Cats
Bombay Cat Personality and Temperament
Affectionate and athletic, Bombays are known to follow their people around and insert themselves into whatever activities might be taking place. While they enjoy snuggling and may be amenable to being picked up, they’re also quite playful, especially in their younger years.
“Bombays love to play fetch,” Valles says. “They will fetch a toy for hours if they continue to receive attention from their family.” Having lots of toys, such as tunnels and interactive toys, will keep this black-cat breed happy, too. And because of their athletic, muscular build, give your Bombay plenty of cat trees, scratching posts, cat shelves, and platforms so she can climb, jump, and scratch.
Bombay Cat Behavior
While Bombays are not loud, “They are chatty and love to tell you all about their day,” Valles says. Be prepared for them to speak up when they want your attention (and they generally do want your attention). This is a confident, friendly cat who often enjoys cuddling in a lap.
However, Bombays don’t just like company—they require it and can develop separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. This isn’t an ideal breed for a single-cat home where the family will be away for more than an hour or two at a time.
Bombay Cat Training
Because Bombays crave so much interaction with their family, these clever kitties can often be trained to do all kinds of things using positive reinforcement, says Valles, including riding in backpacks or walking with you on leash.
Fun Activities for Bombay Cats
Playing hide and seek
Climbing up towers and scratchers
Walking on a leash
Snuggling with family members
Positive reinforcement training
Bombay Cat Grooming Guide
With an inky coat so shiny it resembles patent leather, one might assume the black Bombay cat needs a lot of grooming. But this is actually a low-maintenance kitty. You can expect some shedding with this breed, with heavier shedding during spring and fall, but it’s nothing excessive.
Bombay cats typically don’t require special skin care or bathing.
“Bombays will enjoy very gentle brushing from a soft brush, but it is not essential,” Valles says. Generally, Bombay cats keep their short coats clean and well-groomed without any assistance.
Bombay cats might have occasional watery eyes and need them gently wiped. If you notice colored discharge, talk to your vet.
Bombays don’t need specific ear care, but pet parents need to be on alert for redness, odor, and debris. These can all be signs of an ear infection that your vet can address.
Considerations for Pet Parents
The ideal family for a Bombay is one that wants to give this Velcro kitty lots (and lots!) of attention. A multi-pet home might be best so these social kitties can have company when their humans are away.
While you won’t need to spend too much time grooming your Bombay, you will need to include her in your daily activities. She wants to be an indispensable part of your family, and potential Bombay pet parents should be excited to make that a reality.
Bombay Cat FAQs
How much does a Bombay cat cost?
Bombay cat prices depend on your location and the breeder, but Bombay kittens usually cost $1,500–$2,000.
Are Bombay cats rare?
Yes, the Bombay is a rare cat breed: Valles says there are only a handful of Bombay breeders in the U.S. “A person can expect to wait six to 12 months on a waitlist for a Bombay, unless they expand their search outside of the U.S.,” he says.
Are Bombay cats cuddly?
Yes! Although every cat is different, Bombay cats are typically extremely affectionate and enjoy cuddling with their family—including children and the family dog.
Featured Image: Adobe/Viktor Iden
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