The Bombay is a manufactured breed if there ever was one. These adorable cats actually began with Burmese breeders in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Burmese breeders recognized the need to outcross in order to produce a more compact body while retaining the dark and even coat their breed Standard required. They couldn’t use a Siamese, due to the longer body and blue eyes. Other breeds were eliminated from consideration for similar genetic issues.
The only logical candidate appeared to be the black American Shorthair. The difficulty Burmese breeders encountered was that there was no allowable outcross for the Burmese. If they wanted to introduce new blood, they had to falsify the pedigrees. This was accomplished in several ways. Brown hybrids were added to legitimate Burmese litters, and black hybrids were registered as American Shorthairs, since, at this time, there was open registration for the American Shorthair.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were several Burmese champions that carried the thickened, more resilient coats resulting from the Burmese-American cross. But what could the breeders of these kittens do with those that retained the all-black coats of their American Shorthair parents?
The Development of the Bombay
A breeder in Louisville, Kentucky began crossing the black kittens to black kittens only. This breeder, Nikki Shuttleworth Horner, was highly successful in creating a black Burmese with excellent conformation and a budding personality. These beautiful kittens were Burmese in every respect, with the exception of their black color. She knew that she could never get a new color added to the Burmese breed because of the strong opinion of Burmese breeders.
Horner decided on a different approach, one that didn’t involve the Burmese breeders at all. She made a request for a separate recognition for her black cats, which she called Bombays. They reminded her of the black leopards of India, near the city of Bombay, which is where the name comes from. In 1976, the Cat Fancier’s Association accepted the Bombay for competition. And so the breed was born.
Some Breed Standards for the Bombay
The Standards for the Bombay, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.
General: The ideal Bombay has a unique look all its own. It should have a short, jet-black, gleaming coat, vivid copper eyes, a solid body, and sweet expression. The Bombay should also be muscular and heavy for its size. The perfect Bombay has excellent proportion and carriage.
Head: Pleasingly round, with no sharp angles, and the face should be full and sweet. In profile, there should be a visible nose break, but it should not present a ‘pugged’ or ‘snubbed’ look.
Ears: The ears of the Bombay should be medium in size and set well apart, alert, and tilting slightly forward. They should be broad at the base, with slightly rounded tips.
Eyes: The eyes should be set far apart with a rounded aperture. The color can range from gold to copper, but the greater the depth and brilliance the better.
Body: The Bombay should be medium in size, muscular, and neither compact nor rangy. They are slightly longer than their Burmese cousins, but not by much. The legs should be in proportion to the body, the paws should be rounded.
Tail: The ideal Bombay has a straight tail, medium in length, and neither short nor ‘whippy.’
Coat: All Bombays must be jet-black, with short, fine, satin-like texture of the coat. It should be close lying, with a shimmering sheen.
Penalties: Any cat found to be excessively cobby or rangy will be penalized.
Disqualifications: There are several reasons a Bombay might be disqualified. These include: kinked or abnormal tail, lockets or spots, incorrect number of toes, nose leather or paw pads that are not black, or green eyes.
The Bombay has a sweet disposition and a wonderfully sleek look. They make excellent pets and companions for many people, and are generally a mild tempered breed.