Categories: Bombay Cat

Black Cat Breeds

Bombay cat PASSION. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

There is only one cat breed which must be black under the breed standard and this breed can be no other colour. This is the Bombay Cat. At present the Internet is slightly misleading in my view because the articles presented by search engines on “black cat breeds” discuss a range of cat breeds which are allowed to have black coats under the breed standard.

These are not breeds which have to be black and only black. These breeds can have a variety of colours and markings but I don’t think that is what people are searching for. The article’s title is “black cat breeds” which by implication is a reference to breeds which have to be exclusively black. That’s my interpretation.

Bombay Cat

The Bombay cat is a man-made breed by which I mean it was created artificially through selective breeding. It is not a breed which was created out of a genetic mutation. It is a shorthaired cat and comes only in black colour. It’s a breed which is noted for its sleek black coat and large copper-penny-coloured eyes.

It’s a breed which was developed by Nikki Horner who at the time lived in Louisville, Kentucky in the late 1950s. Her objective was to create a small black panther. In other words she was looking to create an exotic cat with a hint of the wild in his/her appearance. This is in line with a desire during the 1950s to create cat breeds which were more exotic and which allowed the owner to feel that they were more in touch with nature i.e. the wild cat species. It’s a time when the wild cat hybrids were developed. These had the same objective.

Helmi Flick photographing a Bombay purebred cat – a jet black cat. Photo: Michael Broad.

Nikki’s first attempts in selective breeding a jet black cat were unsuccessful but in due course she got results and created a muscular, very short coated black cat. The cat was accepted for championship status by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1976. The International Cat Association accepted the cat breed when the organisation was created.

The Bombay Cat is described as semi-cobby. This is a description of the cat body type. I have a page on cat body types which explains this. Essentially it means a cat which is quite stocky and not particularly slender. This goes along with the muscular attribute of this cat.

It is a medium-sized cat but it is said to feel heavy and strong when picked up. Gloria Stephens writes:

“There is nothing delicate about this cat”.

The head is round and is medium-sized. The muzzle is short but not overly short. It is a moderate looking cat and not bread to extreme. The whole point about this cat is that it is shown in solid black only. The jet black coat is a wonderful background for the deep copper eye colour. It is a combination of those two colours which makes this cat stand out. The coat is described as silky and “lacquer-painted”. It should be smooth to the touch.

Bombay cat – part of the group of cat breeds called “Asian Cats”. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

As for temperament, the Bombay is a relaxed, friendly and intelligent cat created to be people orientated. This is a lap cat who likes to be close to their human companion. They seek interaction and many will sleep under the bed covers with their human companions. This is a hint at the Siamese in terms of temperament but they’re not as vocal as Siamese cats. Gloria says that they are “well adapted for house or apartment living since they are generally calm and quiet in nature.”

To recap, “black cat breeds” must mean breeds which must be exclusively black and there is only one of those.

Looking for a black purebred cat?

If you are looking for the purebred cat with a black coat then as mentioned a lot of the cat breeds, under the breed standard, can have black coats e.g the Maine Coon and American Shorhair. I would suggest you go to the Cat Fanciers’ Association website and look at the breed standards of the breeds that they present and check if breeders are allowed to create cats of these breeds with a black coat. If they are allowed then you can ring up the breeder and say that you would like a black version of this breed and they may respond positively to your request!

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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