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Getting to Know the Bombay

By Patti DeWitt
from The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book

Imagine being in a jungle and out of the corner of your eye you spot a beautiful black panther slinking into the underbrush. This, in miniature, could be the Bombay. The body so solid and dense that you can see the muscles rippling as it grabs for a toy or runs across a room to retrieve a sparkle ball. The Bombay coat is like jet-black patent leather, so gleaming and shiny you can almost see your reflection. The eyes are gold to copper, the deeper the intensity of color the better, like a copper penny. This is why they are called "the patent leather kids with the new penny eyes."

It is a medium-sized, well-balanced cat with males weighing an average of eight to ten pounds, females an average of seven-eight, a surprising weight for their size. Although similar to the Burmese, the profile of the Bombay should not present a pugged or a snubbed look. The ideal Bombay should have a sweet facial expression and an unmistakable look of its own.

Their Personality


Having a Bombay cat is much like having a dog. Bombays are wonderful companions and will sit on your lap hour after hour; they love to be around people. They will follow you wherever you go changing rooms whenever you move. They want to be the center of attention and in the middle of everything. Forget trying to wrap those Christmas presents with a Bombay in the room, they will offer all the help you will ever need and then some. They are highly intelligent cats that love to play and are easy to train. All Bombays love sparkle balls and will fetch them for hours. They can be taught to fetch the ball, come back with it, drop it at your feet and then sit in front of you. Throwing the ball again is a reward for a job well done. They get along very well with dogs, children and other cats, usually in that order. This is a very personable breed of cat and not at all shy. When the doorbell rings, they will usually be the first one at the door. Of course, they are convinced that everyone who visits is there for them alone.

This is not an overly active breed, nor is it an inactive breed. It is somewhere in the middle. Some Bombays can be quite talkative while others are quiet. They love to sleep with their humans, some under the covers and others over them.

Obviously, they are very affectionate cats. They enjoy rubbing their heads and faces on humans, and offering kisses as well. When you return home your Bombay will be waiting for you at the door.

They are inquisitive cats. Typically, Bombays think everything hidden behind a kitchen or bathroom cabinet door is theirs for the taking. They may slip a paw underneath the door to open and remove whatever they feel is worthy of play. This usually includes toilet tissue, paper towels or potatoes. Yes, potatoes. What could be more fun to roll around the kitchen floor? A reflection of their great intelligence is their love to investigate everything and anything. You will not need to spend a fortune on toys since a grocery sack or a soda box can entertain them for hours. Another source of playful enjoyment are toys that are furry and feathery. They will protect their newfound "prey" by growling at those who try to take it away and then move it to a quieter spot, not wanting to share. Even kittens can be possessive and territorial.

They also adapt their schedules according to yours. If you work outside of the home, you will find that they will adjust their sleeping habits. By the time you get home from work, they will be wide-awake and ready to entertain. If you want a breed that is affectionate, requires a lot of attention, is smart and clever then the Bombay is the cat for you.

Bombays are also good travelers. If you are going to show the cat, which requires a great deal of traveling, it is a good idea to get them used to it at a young age. When traveling by car, make sure they are always kept in their carrier. It is much safer for the cat and for you if it is confined when the car is in motion. A number of accidents have occurred where the cat has been thrown outside of the vehicle and lost because it was not in a carrier inside the car.

Their Care

The Bombay is one of the easiest breeds to groom and bathe. Since their coats are so short and satiny there is very little shedding. If given a monthly bath, their shedding is almost nonexistent. They have what is called a "wash and wear" coat. Use a quality cat shampoo and conditioner. After bathing, simply dry the cat with a warm towel that has been tossed in the clothes dryer. If you are bathing in the winter months, it is a good idea to place the cat in a carrier located in a warm room until its coat is dry. This avoids the cat getting chilled. A rubber curry brush can be used to remove unwanted hair from the coat. Hold the brush and apply pressure as you run it through the coat. The hair will attach to the brush for easy removal. A curry brush is an important grooming tool for this breed that can be purchased at cat shows or pet supply stores and catalogs.

If you have acquired a cat you plan to show, a common grooming procedure used is called stripping the coat. Not all Bombays require this, but it is helpful when the coat is heavier or thicker than usual. Stripping the coat pulls the heavier undercoat out and helps the coat to lay flat. It gives it a sleeker appearance. To accomplish this you will need a grooming tool called a stripping comb. This comb has the appearance of a small knife with a handle. The actual comb part has very small, razor-sharp teeth.

This is not a simple grooming technique. Before stripping the coat for the first time, it is suggested that you get help from another Bombay owner or breeder. There are several styles available; all should do a good job.

Start clipping your kitten's nails at an early age. He can become quite resistant if you do not make this part of a weekly procedure.

Even more important than grooming is your cats diet. Provide high quality food for your pet. This is certain to enhance his health and coat. During the winter months, an oil supplement will help with any dander or dry skin problems. You may also purchase a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement to add to the food, or give orally.

The Bombay cat is very slow to mature into full development. Most breeders will keep their kittens until they are 16 weeks of age. Even at that age, it is difficult to know if that kitten will blossom into a show quality cat. A ruffled coat can transform itself into a sleek and close lying coat and weak eye color can develop into the beautiful copper eye color expected of the breed.

If you have purchased or plan on purchasing a Bombay that has not been spayed or neutered, they can be quite precocious when it comes to breeding and can reach sexual maturity as early as six months of age. Because of their early sexual maturity, it is suggested that you get your Bombay spayed or neutered between six to eight months of age. Unneutered males and unspayed females can develop habits of marking (spraying) their territories with scented urine at an early age. Neutering and spaying at an early age should help eliminate this behavior.

Preparing a Bombay for Show

If you are planning to show your Bombay at cat shows, there are several things you can do to promote their show attitude. Go to cat shows and examine the toys being used by the judges. While your kitten is still young, use the same type of toys to play with him. Leave them around the house in order to make them an enjoyable experience.

Handle your kitten in many different positions. Some kittens even enjoy being carried upside down. If you do not have children, bring them in from your neighborhood to handle the kittens. Create different noises in your house. Bear in mind that the sounds a cat hears at cat shows will be loud and very different from the sounds heard at home.

It can be helpful to work with your kitten on a small table or counter. This will simulate a judging table and may make your kitten or cat more at ease when being judged at a cat show. The kitten will need to get use to having its profile, bite and head examined. It is important when they are young to work with their head, eyes and mouth. It is difficult to analyze the head when the cat will not allow the judge to touch its head. When carrying a Bombay to the show ring carry it close along your side or out in front of your body. You want the cat to feel confident being carried in front, and not to feel vulnerable. Judges will usually take the Bombay out of the judging cage and just place it on the table. Bombays do not like being held in a restrictive position or pinned to the judging table. They do a wonderful job of showing off their muscularity when going after a toy on the judge's table.

Breed History

A woman named Nikki Horner created the Bombay as a breed in 1966 in Louisville, Kentucky. She produced the breed as we know it today by mating a black American Shorthair with a sable Burmese. After many years of selective breeding, she developed a cat that was totally black with large copper eyes. The result of this process is a hybrid cat breed. With the Burmese muscularity and the coat having a patent leather sheen, she named these mini-panthers Bombay, for the black leopard of India and the city of Bombay. The Bombays were accepted for registration in the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1970. The requirements into Provisional status were met in May of 1974. By May, 1976, Bombays became eligible to compete in the championship classes. The first national winning Bombay was in 1982 and others have followed.

The Bombay is a wonderfully intelligent, humorous, beautiful and entertaining cat. Even though there are not many Bombay breeders and you find yourself on a waiting list for such a kitten, it will be worth the wait. These are loveable companions and make a purrfect addition to any household.

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