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The Bombay is a black shorthaired cat of 'foreign' type, which is, in effect, a solid black Asian Self cat, derived from the Burmese (or semi-longhaired Burmilla) and originally crossed with other varieties of pedigree shorthaired cat. The term 'Asian' is used for cats of Burmese shape and coat texture, but with non-Burmese coat colour, pattern or length, and there is not a Black Burmese. Interestingly, the Asians were the first group of pedigree cats breeds in Britain to include a good temperament as part of the Standard of Points, which also states categorically that they must not resemble a British Shorthair, a Persian or a Siamese in shape. However, what is called the Bombay in the UK should not be confused with the American 'Bombay' cat with which it shares its name, as it is a totally different breed although the American Bombay has developed to resemble more of a Burmese shape in the 21st century. The American Bombay is actually the result of an American breeder called Nikki Horner attempting to create a 'mini black panther' by crossing black American domestic shorthairs with sable Burmese, and it has copper eyes which are not permitted in the British Bombay. These were recognised in the USA by 1976, although it is still possible to encounter a British Bombay (as they are known) in North America.
The Asian breeding programme originated with the Burmilla, bred 'accidentally' by Baroness Miranda von Kirchberg in Britain in 1981, and, having seen the pretty kittens that resulted from this mating, she decided to develop the breed further with other coat colours and patterns derived from the Burmese. Throughout the breeding programme, the Bombay has been bred back to the pure Burmese (often alternate generations in the early days) to maintain the wonderful Burmese shape, coat texture and temperament, and nowadays the Bombay is becoming quite a popular breed.
The Bombay is a black 'self' Asian, famous for its sleek black coat, which makes it look slightly like a very small panther, and the colour is 'sound' right to the roots. Almost everything about this cat is black, including the nose leather and paw pads. Like the Burmese, it is a very elegant, medium-sized muscular cat, and the short, fine and close lying texture gives a characteristic black shimmering patent leather effect. The head forms a short balanced wedge, tapering to a blunt muzzle with the top of the head well rounded with medium to large ears set quite wide apart. Kittens are often born with ears that look far too big for their bodies, but they mostly grow into them. The coat texture is short and fine, lying close to the body, with a medium to long tail reaching the shoulder if brought round gently along the side of the body. Eye colour should be gold, although it can be any shade of yellow through to green, the deeper the better. Kittens are born more of a charcoal grey colour and the famous sleek black coat does not usually start to emerge until the kitten is around 4 months old, and is often 7 or 8 months before the full show potential can be assessed. The Bombay does not reach full maturity until it is around 18 months old.
This breed is known for its superb temperament. It has very extrovert, inquisitive nature and together with the high intelligence, this makes the Bombay an ideal family pet, despite its very startling and dramatic black appearance. However, the Bombay also has a very gentle side to its nature, which appeals to more elderly people who are looking for a loyal companion. Although this is a very affectionate breed, the Bombay loves showing off, especially when there are visitors to impress and charm! Like the Burmese, it is a very vocal breed, with a loud voice when it wants to get its point across clearly, and it also likes being picked up and cuddled. Because it is such a sociable cat, the Bombay relates to well to human company and will adapt well to indoor living, not feeling the need to go out. However, it will need company, and will not appreciate being left alone for hours at a time - another feline companion, especially a cat with a similar extrovert personality, will be much appreciated as a companion.
The Bombay appears to be a long-lived variety, with no health problems specific to the breed. In common with other cats, they need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.
The Bombay will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese, preferably shared with its humans if care is not taken! However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. It has a short plush coat, which will not need much grooming, and stroking (particularly with slightly damp hands) will normally remove any dead hairs. The Bombay does enjoy being lovely and warm and will enjoy curling up in the airing cupboard or similar unsuitable place to enjoy a source of direct heat! A dry chamois leather will bring up a wonderful sheen on the cat's coat. If the Bombay is to be a pet, and not used for breeding, it should be neutered at around 6 months of age as it is a breed that matures sexually at a young age.