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Bombay cat vs. black cat—similar yet not the same

All Bombays are black, but every black cat is not a Bombay. If you have a sable-coated kitty with an indeterminable background, you may be curious if they’re a Bombay or an average black moggy. Our Bombay cat vs. black cat guide will help you tell them apart!

While Bombays are purebred, an average black cat can belong to any breed or be a hybrid. Untamed recommends using a two-step approach for a precise evaluation:

  1. Visual analysis
  2. Temperament check

The more Bombay-ish your kitty is, the more they’d need a lifestyle and nutrition plan appropriate for this breed, so we’ll also throw in some handy tips regarding their care and dietary requirements.

Bombay cat vs. black cat—visual analysis

Bombay cats were developed in the US in the 1950s by breeding a sable Burmese cat with a black American Shorthair. Shortly after, British breeders created an English variant of the breed by mating sable Burmese and British Shorthair cats. The unique gene pool gives Bombay cats a distinctive, black-panther-like appearance in a petite body.

Bombays are medium-sized cats, so their height, weight, and length are similar to average cats. You must look for specific distinguishing features to differentiate a Bombay cat from other black cats. Check them out in the table below:

Physical trait

Bombay cat

Black cat (most common traits)


  • Jet black short-haired coat
  • No patterns
  • Patent-leather-like sheen
  • Silky smooth
  • Dull black—little to no shine
  • Short-haired or long-haired
  • Plain or patterned
  • Coarse, woolly texture

Eye colour

  • American Bombays—deep yellow to copper shades
  • English Bombays—golden to green shades
  • Hazel
  • Blue
  • Copper
  • Red

Eye shape

Round and significantly larger than average black cats

Narrow, round, oval, or hooded and average-sized


  • Wide-set
  • Medium-sized
  • Upright or slightly angular
  • Rounded tips

Can be folded, upright, or curled depending on their genetic mix


Black nose with a compact structure—appears shorter than the nose of an average cat

Most mixed breeds have straight, medium-sized noses that can be pink, grey, or black


  • Rounded, no peaks
  • Black paw pads
  • Tapered or heart-shaped with a peak point
  • Black, grey, brick-red, or pink paw pads

Head shape


Triangular, squarish, or round

Body type

  • Big-boned, tightly muscled
  • Well-proportioned limbs
  • Tail as big as torso

The body type of average black cats is not easily distinguishable because of their mixed genetics

The beguiling eyes of a Bombay—so big and bright you can recognise these kitties in any clowder!

Source: Grigoriy Konovalov

Black Burmese cat vs. Bombay cat—is there a difference?

The Bombay cat looks pretty similar to their Burmese ancestor in terms of body type and proportions, but the Bombay would stand out because of their:

  1. Larger, rounder eyes
  2. Longer limbs
  3. Pitch-black coat

Keep in mind that a black Burmese cat has a brownish-grey (referred to as sable) coat because of their genetic make-up that dilutes the dominant coat colour into a lighter shade.

Can Bombay cats have white patches here and there?

Purebred Bombay cats should not have any white patches on them. A couple of Bombay kittens may be born with a tiny white tuft on the chest or the belly because of their recessive Burmese gene, but that technically disqualifies them from being classified as Bombays.

Cat parents of tuxedo kitties tend to wonder if their cats are Bombays. While the Bombay cat is a relatively new breed, tuxedo cats have been around for centuries. Black and white felines are generally descendants of all-black domestic shorthairs. Most black kitties were massacred during mediaeval witch hunts in America and Europe, but tuxedo cats survived because of the white and are abundantly found everywhere. They are usually larger than Bombay cats.

Still confused? Look at the big picture!

Bombay cats look smallish and compact. If your kitty ticks most of the visual markers of this breed, they probably have some Bombay blood. You can also recognise a Bombay cat by their swagger—these kitties sway their torsos as they walk, much like panthers.

In case your kitty appears fluffier or larger, they can have the genes of a Maine Coon, Scottish Fold, Ragdoll, Persian, Norwegian Forest, or Siberian cat. A black feline with sharper features is likely to be a mix of an oriental breed like the Sphynx, Siamese, or Abyssinian

Is my cat a Bombay? Quiz time, hooman. Who’s who?

Source: (left/right) Chrissy Bogomilova/Madalyn Cox

Bombay cat vs. black cat—the temperament

You can easily tell if a kitty is a Bombay by their temperament. They tend to be:

  1. Highly energetic—Average kitties love to zone out as a pastime, but Bombays prefer to be active and alert. They love:
    1. Observing the world around them
    2. Climbing cat towers (or cabinets)
    3. Playing interactive games and puzzles that make them think
  2. Deeply affectionate—Unlike aloof breeds like British Shorthair and Bengal cats, Bombays are people-driven family companions who enjoy being looked after. They’ll actively seek your attention, demand cuddles, and follow you around 24/7 
  3. Social—Dark-coated breeds like Russian Blues and Korats can be skittish around strangers, but not Bombays. If your kitty is a darling social butterfly who quickly warms up to strangers and other pets, they’re likely to be a Bombay
  4. Vocal—Bombays are not the shy or quiet type. They use incessant, soft-toned meows to tell you if anything's amiss, and their cries get louder when they’re hungry or feel you’re ignoring them 
  5. Docile—Despite their predatory looks and assertive behaviour, Bombays are major softies. They are gentle when playing with smaller pets and have zero motivation to hunt mice, frogs, or other garden critters

A dominant quirk of Bombay cats is their mad love for warmth. They gravitate towards indoor spots where the sunlight seeps in and love to lay down on the balmy grass on a pleasant summer day.

Velcro kitties are sweethearts who need more than food and games. You’re no Bombay cat parent unless you build your life around them.

Source: Ruca Souza

How to care for a Bombay or Bombay mix

Caring for Bombay cats is relatively easy. They don't shed much and have minimal grooming needs. Brush their fur once every one or two weeks and bathe them only when they’re dirty. You should pay special attention to their:

  1. Need for interaction—Bombays are not okay being alone for long. These kitties are at their best when they feel sheltered and secure. You can do that by:
    1. Spending 10–20 minutes with them several times a day
    2. Giving them physically or mentally engaging toys
    3. Taking them out for garden or park play dates
    4. Getting other pets to keep them company if you are away often
  2. Dietary needs—Bombay cats are prone to feline diabetes and obesity, which can be prevented with low-carb and low-fat meals. Avoid giving them dry food as it contains a lot of carbohydrates due to inadequate ingredients like sugar, corn, and potato starch. While wet food is suitable for weight management in Bombays, be wary of products with harmful high-fat meat like pork and beef. No matter what cat food you choose, the ideal nutrient ratio is:
    1. Over 50% protein
    2. Up to 20% fat
    3. Under 3% carb
  3. Eating habits—Bombay cats tend to gorge on food, especially kibbles, and end up eating more than they should. Overeating is also common in pre-diabetic cats. Help your kitty practice disciplined eating by feeding them controlled portions at set intervals

Make your job easier—get Untamed for your Bombay

Create the perfect diet for your Bombay kitty with high-protein wet food from Untamed. We prepare gravy and jelly dishes with 60%–63% protein—two times more than what regular cat food products offer.

Untamed sticks to premium cuts of human-grade whole meat like chicken, liver, tuna, salmon, mackerel, duck, ham, shrimp, and sardines, that help Bombays stay fit, muscular, and flexible. Cats on a complete Untamed diet since kittenhood are at a lower risk of developing diabetes mellitus and gastrointestinal problems.

Bombay or black—they want the meat back. Time to swap biscuits and filler-loaded products with Untamed!

Image (c) Untamed

Why Untamed is the best choice for Bombay cats

Besides the high protein content, Untamed is excellent because of:

  1. Vet-designed formulas—We got vets on board to create recipes that fulfil the core nutritional needs of felines. From taurine to B vitamins, your kitty gets all micronutrients in the optimal amounts
  2. Ingredients—Our primary ingredient is fresh whole meat that naturally complements your cat’s metabolism. We keep our meals free from fillers like meat derivatives, sugar, grains, and vegan proteins
  3. Digestibility—Bombays are fussy with food that makes them retch or throw up. We steam the meals to preserve the natural nutrients and keep the meat soft and digestible
  4. Premium taste—Kitties of all breeds love Untamed because of the natural aroma and flavour (no harsh additives or taste enhancers!)

Our products are also safe for felines with food allergies because we avoid using known allergens like dairy and beef. If your kitty has a sensitive stomach, get them our single-protein-source meals:

  • Chocka Chicken in Jelly
  • Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly 

Want a trial pack of Untamed? Take our TRY NOW quiz and tell us about your Bombay cat’s food sensitivities and taste preferences.

Black, blue, or cream—having their stash of Untamed is every kitty’s dream!

Image (c) Untamed

With Untamed, you can keep your Bombay fit and happy!

Here’s how our food helps kitties stay strong throughout life:

  1. Kittens—With suitable serving sizes, Untamed promotes healthy weight gain in kittens and regulates their eating habits
  2. Adults—Our grain-free, low-carb dishes prevent adult Bombays from consuming too many calories and getting obese
  3. Senior cats—Older Bombays can experience a drop in appetite and body weight, but our delicious meals prevent unpleasant gastrointestinal issues and lethargy

If your kitty has ignored wet food before, switch them to Untamed and see how quickly they change their minds! Based on the feedback from our subscribers, here are some health benefits you can expect:


The Untamed effect!

Week one

  • Cleaner litter tray
  • Fresh breath
  • Optimised hydration

Month three

Month six and up

A long life full of cosy cuddles and cheeky conversations—made easier with Untamed!

Image (c) Untamed

Give your Bombay a taste—get the Untamed trial pack!

Visit our online cat food store to treat your Bombay to a tailor-made feast. You’ll receive our trial box in a day with free shipping. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Answer our TRY NOW questionnaire
  2. Select suitable products
  3. Place the order

We can deliver the meals on a monthly cycle, so your pet pantry is always stocked up. Modify the meal selection or tweak the delivery schedule anytime. You’re also free to cancel an order with no fuss.

We run an ethical cat food business by using:

  • Recyclable packaging
  • Cruelty-free meat
  • Dolphin-safe seafood