Bombay cat health issues

Like many purebred cats (all purebred cats?) the Bombay cat has some health issues. I am referring to genetically inherited conditions. Firstly, I will quote verbatim from what I consider to be the best book on inherited genetic diseases in purebred cats, namely, Medical, Genetic and Behavioural Aspects of Purebred Cats edited by Ross D Clark DVM.

Bombay Cat

Bombay Cat. Photos are copyright Helmi Flick

Bombays may have or be carriers of genetic anomalies of the heart, skull or spinal canal. Cranial deformities occur frequently in many lines. Also extreme nose breaks may cause tearing or breathing difficulties.


Dr Clark refers to two reference books. The first is “The Complete Book” by Richard H Gebhardt published in 1991 and the second is a book called “Cats” by Roger Caras published in 1985. I have ordered the first from Amazon and will update the page as and when I have more information.

Is the Bombay Cat hypoallergenic?

Bombay cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cranial deformities

The reference to “cranial deformities” occurring in many breeding lines is disturbing to read. Referring to my website i.e. this website and my description of the Bombay cat that I wrote many years ago, I refer to this health issue as “Burmese Craniofacial Defect”. This genetically health issue appears to have been inherited from Burmese cats. The first Bombay cat was created through crossing a sable Burmese with a black American Shorthair. So in laymen’s terms Burmese blood was introduced at the very beginning into the Bombay cat. This is where this cranial deformity comes from I suspect. You can read about Burmese cat health by clicking on this link.

Waxahachie , a Bombay cat being photographed by Helmi Flick at a cat show in the US

Waxahachie , a Bombay cat being photographed by Helmi Flick at a cat show in the US. Photo by Michael Broad using a film camera.

Kittens euthanized

It appears that some kittens are sadly born with deformed heads and those that survive are euthanised. I hope that the word “euthanised” means exactly what it’s meant to mean in this instance. I say this, and I know I am expressing my opinion, some breeders quietly kill newborn kittens inhumanely. I don’t want to cast aspersions against cat breeders generally. I’m simply referring to one or two breeders that might be doing this.


The reference to “tearing” because of an extreme nose break must be a reference to the fact that the drainage canal which takes moisture away from the eye and which is situated in the corner of the eye by the nose becomes distorted through selective breeding. The selective breeding causes the extreme nose break and defective drainage canals so the eyes tear down the face. This form of breeding also causes breathing difficulties which is exactly the same problem which affects flat-faced dogs such as the French Bulldog and the contemporary Persian which also has a very flat face on a brachycephalic head. Their noses are distorted for appearance at the expense of health.


Purina, the pet food manufacturer, mention in respect of Bombay cat health that this breed is predisposed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is referred to as HCM and is a classic heart disease which also affects the Bengal cat. It is the most commonly diagnosed cardiac disease in felines and it is a condition which results in the muscular walls of a cat’s heart thickening which decreases its efficiency leading to symptoms in other parts of the body.

Spinal canal

I will add to this section as soon as I have Richard H Gebhardt’s book referred to above. I believe that he writes about this condition.

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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