The Difference Between American & British Bombay Cats

Bombays try to evoke the look of a "mini panther."
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You probably couldn't tell a British Bombay from an American Bombay cat at first glance. They may look the same on the outside, but differences in breeding set apart these two types of kitties. Both are beautiful, rare and distinctive cats with a sleek appearance and good temperament.

Origin of the Breeds

The late Nikki Horner, a lifelong cat breeder and enthusiast based in Kentucky, is credited with breeding the first American Bombay cat. Her goal was to produce a feline that had the good temperament and stunning eyes of the Burmese, with a distinctive, sleek black coat, making it look like a "mini panther," as she referred to it. She made her first Bombay breeding attempt in the 1950s. Her initial success came from a cross between a black male American Shorthair with copper-colored eyes and a Grand Champion sable Burmese female. Today, Bombays are bred by crossing existing Bombays with sable Burmese cats.

British Bombays came about in the 1960s when purebred Burmese cats mated with British Shorthairs. Now the British Bombay is intentionally bred with Burmese and British Shorthairs.

Classification and Breed Recognition

The American Cat Fanciers' Association, the Cat Fanciers Association, the Cat Fanciers' Federation and the International Cat Association recognize the American Bombay as a distinct breed certified to compete in official championships. The Cat Fancier's Association accepted the breed for registration in 1970, and it was first allowed to compete in championship shows in 1976. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in the U.K. considers the American Bombay as a distinct breed and the British Bombay as an "experimental breed" within the Asian group of cat breeds.


The American Bombay has yellow to orange eyes. The ideal Bombay has copper-colored eyes -- this is one of the characteristics Horner was after when she created the breed. The British Bombay cat can have yellow, orange or green eyes. Green eyes are considered a disqualification for judging American Bombays. Other than eye color, the British and American Bombays are very similar cats, both having a sleek, short-haired, low-shed coat, a small muzzle that is rounded but not snubbed, and a lean, muscular body that's not stubby or lanky.

American and British Shorthairs

Differences in the cats used to breed Bombays have caused subtle differences in the American and British breeds. American Shorthair cats have smooth coats and medium-sized bodies. The British Shorthair has a slightly shorter muzzle than the American and a fluffier coat that puffs out, where the American has a sleek coat that lays parallel to the skin. The British Shorthair is known for its intelligence and calm demeanor. They are not the most athletic of cats, where the American Shorthair originally gained popularity for its exceptional mousing abilities.

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