Tiny panther on the prowl—how to care for a Bombay cat
Bombay cats are wild-looking marshmallows. Their signature pitch black fur and piercing yellow eyes make a dashing contrast, reminding you of a crafty predator on the prowl—but the Bombay cat is anything but!
If you’re looking to adopt one of these kitties, this one-stop guide is for you. We’ll explore the breed inside and out, presenting the:
- Distinctive physical traits
- Behaviour and temperament
- Ideal living conditions
- General health
- Grooming needs
You’ll also find out about a Bombay cat’s daily nutritional requirements and learn what food can keep your feline friend in excellent shape for life!
The American and British Bombay cats—origins
Like Ragdolls and modern Siamese cats, Bombays come from two different breeds. The Bombay breed was first created in the 1950s in America. A Kentucky breeder named Nikki Horner wished to have a wee kitty who resembled a black panther inspired by Bagheera from The Jungle Book! Nikki created the first American Bombay by mating a female Burmese cat with a male American Shorthair, both with sable coats.
British breeders followed in the 1960s and created the British or English Bombay cat by mixing black-coated Burmese and British Shorthair cats. The primary difference between both bloodlines is that American Bombays have orange, gold, or copper eyes, while the English ones have golden or green eyes.
The price of a British Bombay cat is usually between £50 and £300 in the country, but it can be hard to find a purebred. Bombay kittens mixed with other breeds like Maine Coons and Ragdoll Munchkins are more common, but they would not have the distinctive features of this breed.
My life motto? Look like a panther, act like a cinnamon roll.
How to identify a Bombay cat—hacks
Similar to Bengals, Savannahs, and Abyssinians, Bombay cats have a feral look. It may be hard to differentiate them from other black cats, but you can recognise this breed easily if you’re well-acquainted with their:
- Physical traits
Bombay cat—physical characteristics
Black cats are common and come from various breeds, but the Bombay is famous for their plain, short-haired black coat—which is also their most distinguishing feature. Their fur is the darkest, glossiest shade of black imaginable, without any patterns. They may occasionally have a white tuft on their chest due to their Burmese origins, but purebred tuxedo or white Bombay cats do not exist.
The following table outlines other distinctive physical traits of healthy adult Bombays:
Nose and paw pads
Bombay cats have a soft spot for sunny spots—that’s how they soak in that healing vitamin D for their bones.
Bombay cat—personality and temperament
Bombay cats are delightfully playful but sport a calm and collected exterior, making them a breeze to train. Here are their most prominent personality traits:
- Energetic—Bombays are active and curious explorers. They rarely nap to kill time and are always checking what their humans are up to and locating misplaced household stuff
- Agreeable and extroverted—These kitties are sociable and welcoming of strangers—they even love entertaining them. They are not solitary lurkers like British Shorthair and Himalayan cats but prefer inclusion in social gatherings. Since Bombays confidently get along with both dogs and cats, they morph into the bona fide peace-keeping leaders in any ragtag group of pets
- Gentle and tolerant—Bombays can be physically forceful because of their weight, so they intuitively practise restraint. They’re mindful of the safety of toddlers and smaller pets. Their considerate nature makes them lousy hunters, so don’t expect your furry friend to go after mice, birds, and frogs
- Affectionate—These felines are loyal lap cats who express their affection by letting their humans stroke and cuddle with them. They demand attention and adore being petted
- Vocal and persuasive—Bombay cats, like Siamese and Sphynx kitties, are talkative and communicate their needs with persistent high-pitched vocalisations. They have earned the nickname “velcro kitties” because they can be the ultimate stalkers if they think you should be more attentive
- Adaptable—A Bombay cat can adapt to sudden changes easier than most felines. Their natural resilience helps them thrive in any household
Ideal home for a Bombay cat
Bombays are mostly indoor cats because of their strong desire for human company, but they passionately enjoy bird-watching and sunbathing by the window on sunny days. These kitties do well anywhere—large homes or small apartments—as long as they receive their daily dose of:
- Physical activities—Bombay cats should get 20 to 60 minutes of exercise daily. Their natural agility makes them flexible climbers and jumpers, so they like cat towers, catnip mice, and running wheels
- Mental stimulation—Bombays need to exercise their big brains, too! You can get them interactive puzzle toys, but having a cardboard box to annihilate also works fine for them
- Human attention—Give your Bombay cat at least 30 minutes of attention each day, and yes, lap and cuddle time counts. You can also:
- Teach them new tricks
- Play hide and seek using blankets (Bombays love to burrow themselves in piles!)
- Get them to chase lasers or ping pong balls
You can raise them with kids, but their vocal nature can disrupt a toddler’s sleep. Bombays are okay with multi-pet households, but since they are a bit territorial, you must give them separate food and water bowls. These kitties bond better with younger pets who match their energy levels, so don’t expect them to spend much time with senior felines.
Keep in mind that Bombay cats are not hypoallergenic. Their saliva, dander, urine, and fur contain Fel d 1 protein that triggers allergies in humans. Since they are low shedders, most allergy sufferers have a mild reaction to the breed.
Explorers or homebodies—why choose when you can be both?
How long do Bombay cats live?
Bombay cat’s lifespan is generally 12–18 years, although well-cared-for kitties can reach their 20s. Here are their life stages:
Up to 2 years (they mature slowly)
13 years and up
As your Bombay ages, you need to keep an eye out for the common health issues that plague this breed.
Common health issues in Bombays
Bombay cats are typically healthy, but their Burmese genes make them genetically predisposed to the following conditions:
- Hypokalemia—Bombay cats are at risk of developing hypokalemia, which means they have low potassium levels in blood plasma. The signs of this condition include vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite, and muscle cramps. Hypokalemic kitties are malnourished and can be treated with potassium supplements and a temporary weight gain diet
- Craniofacial abnormalities—They include facial malformations detected in early kittenhood caused by a genetic mutation. These kittens usually must be euthanised as they cannot survive
- Breathing difficulties—Ageing Bombay cats can develop breathing difficulties because of their small noses. Get your kitty immediate medical attention if your notice laboured breathing, incessant coughing, and shaking
- Excessive tearing—The huge eyes of Bombay cats are quite sensitive and tend to tear easily. They’re also prone to corneal disorders, which can be prevented with a vitamin-rich diet. Keeping your Bombay’s eyes clean should be an important part of their grooming routine
- Obesity—Bombay cats have low body fat, so even a little weight gain can make them look unshapely. They tend to gain weight easily if you don’t control their serving sizes because they are enthusiastic eaters. To prevent obesity, ensure their daily meals have under 20% fat and 3% carbs
- Diabetes—Overweight Bombay cats are at risk of developing feline diabetes. It’s a life-threatening condition that lowers their overall immunity and increases their chance of developing heart diseases, urinary infections, and bladder stones
Keep your Bombay cat healthy and happy with the right food
A nutritious meal plan is vital in keeping a Bombay cat fit and fabulous. According to feline nutritionists, you should feed a high-protein diet (more than 50%) to this breed to:
- Meet their daily caloric needs
- Build and maintain lean muscles
- Help them retain appropriate bone density in old age
- Preserve the sheen and strength of their coat
- Optimise their metabolic functions to prevent issues like:
Most vets don’t recommend dry food for Bombay cats as it contains too many carbs and other harmful ingredients like sugar, corn meal, vegetable oils, and artificial taste enhancers. The protein source in kibble is another issue, as it's usually not whole meat but low-quality alternatives like:
Heavy-boned kitties thrive when they’ve access to animal proteins derived from lean meat.
Image (c) Untamed
Untamed—the vet-designed food for Bombays
Untamed brings you whole-meat wet food formulated by vets to keep Bombay cats naturally active and muscular. Our catalogue includes:
- Light on the tummy—We steam our ingredients to make them easily digestible, so even kittens and senior cats with stomach sensitivities respond well to our meals
- Allergen-free—We know all about common feline food allergies and keep problem ingredients and chemical additives out of our dishes
- Tasty—Cats will recognise and reject wet food with fillers or shady ingredients. Untamed has been okayed by picky felines because we stick to fresh meat and fish. Our products are free from:
Unforgettable taste that keeps ’em coming back for more—Untamed ends fussy days!
Image (c) Untamed
Untamed keeps Bombay cats fit and happy!
A cat’s natural diet consists of meat, so Untamed works for all breeds at every life stage. Our high-protein and low-carb food helps kittens develop strong muscles and keeps adult cats toned. It’s excellent for diabetes- and obesity-prone breeds like Bombays and can also help prevent age-related illnesses like cystitis, arthritis, and hyperthyroidism.
We receive regular feedback from our happy clients who tell us how Untamed impacted their kitty’s health. Here’s what they’ve shared:
Keeping my eyes peeled at the door because it’s about time Untamed comes home!
How to order Untamed’s trial pack
You can order our starter pack online in a few easy steps:
- Take our short TRY NOW quiz
- Customise your meal box
- Place the order
Once your kitty samples the dishes and chooses their favourites, go for our monthly cat food subscription service. We offer the following perks to our clients:
- One-day deliveries
- Free shipping
- Easy cancellation or modification of orders
We keep our operations ethical and use 100% recyclable packaging, and our meat is purchased from cruelty-free and sustainable sources.
How to groom Bombay cats—handy tips
Check out the essentials of grooming your Bombay cat:
- Brushing—Like Russian Blues and Korats, Bombays shed minimally. Brush them once every one or two weeks with a soft-bristled comb to avoid hurting their skin
- Bathing—Bathing Bombay cats is not necessary unless they’re dirty, which is rare. Most kitties of this breed despise taking baths, so consider cleaning them with cat wipes instead
- Dental cleaning—You should clean your Bombay cat’s teeth daily with suitable cat toothpaste. You can also get them dental chews to minimise tartar buildup. Pay attention to your kitty’s gums while brushing, and reach out to your vet if you notice inflamed gums or a fractured tooth
- Eye and ear cleaning—Dip a cotton ball in cool sterilised water and use it to wipe the gunk from your kitty’s eyes. Since Bombay cats are prone to eye irritations, you may need to clean their eyes daily. Clean your Bombay cats ears with a cotton ball every few weeks or whenever you notice a debris buildup
- Nail clipping—Clip your cat’s claws once or twice every month, depending on how fast they grow
Kittenhood is the best time to get Bombays accustomed to grooming and exercises.
Source: Helena Lopes
What snacks do Bombay cats like?
Bombay cats have a natural gift of tricking their humans into giving them snacks, but remember that treats should not exceed 10% of their daily food intake. Here are a few healthy options:
- Meat soup or broth (unseasoned)
- Tiny bits of freeze-dried raw chicken or tuna (follow strict hygiene protocols while handling raw treats)
- Bite-size pieces of apples and bananas. Keep in mind that specific fruits, like grapes and oranges, are toxic to felines
- A few bites of yoghurt or ice cream (only if your kitty is lactose tolerant)
- Steamed and mashed kitty-safe veggies like pumpkins and carrots (one or two teaspoons at most)