Back in the late 1950s Nikki Horner, a very successful
breeder of Persians and Burmese, was inspired to develop
a new breed similar to the Burmese, but with a shiny,
black coat and copper eyes. She named her creation the
Bombay, after the black leopard and the city in India.
After several unsuccessful attempts of crossing black
domestic shorthairs with Burmese, she started over and
began breeding her Burmese to black American Shorthairs.
The results were much better. After years of showing her
Bombays in the provisional class, the breed was finally
accepted for championship status by CFA in 1976. When
TICA was founded in 1979, the Bombay was one of the breeds
accepted for championship status. Due to their shiny,
"patent-leather" coats, "new-penny"
eyes and pleasing dispositions, the Bombay quickly gained
All modern day Burmese can trace their ancestry to a small
brown cat named Wong Mau, who came to the USA from Burma
in 1930, with a Dr. Thompson. Thompson, a retired Ship's
doctor and practising Psychiatrist, who also bred cats.
Realizing that Wong Mau was different from his Siamese
cats, Dr. Thompson persuaded three breeder/geneticist
friends to investigate Wong Mau's genetic make-up. This
investigation showed that Wong Mau was in fact a hybrid
of Siamese with a new dark-coated breed of cat which became
known as Burmese. The early Burmese were a deep rich brown
color called Sable. Burmese now come in Blue, Chocolate/Champaign,
Lilac/Platinum. The International Cat Association also
recognizes Red, Cream, Sable Tortie, Blue Tortie, Chocolate
Tortie and Lilac Tortie.
the Bombay a black Burmese?
In one word, "NO!"
To quote from Patricia C. Taylor's article, "Meet
the Bombay" in the May/June 1978 issue of Cat World,
"While many people feel that the Bombay is a black
Burmese, although, the two breeds are close in type, they
are not the same! A comparison of the standards will immediately
show likenesses and differences. Judges especially should
note what the Bombay breeders are striving to produce."
This statement is as true now as it was in 1978. To compare
the breeds in general terms, both are described as medium-sized,
somewhat compact, well-muscled, sturdy bone structure
and surprisingly/ deceptively heavy for their size. They
have rounded heads, a short, broad muzzle; medium ears
with rounded tips, round eyes and a sweet, open expression.
Both breeds have short, close-lying coats with the Burmese
coat being described as looking like a wet seal coming
out of the water and the Bombay's black coat described
as having a shimmering, patent-leather sheen.
vs. "Contemporary or More Extreme"
The subject of "Traditional" vs. "Contemporary/More
Extreme" in the Bombay and Burmese is a very divisive
one. It not only refers to the "style" or "look,"
but to genetics. Therefore, to present it as neutrally
as possible, I am quoting excerpts from the online article,
"The Feline Genome project, Feline Cranial-Facial
Abnormality." From the Background section: "During
the 1970's, a alternative style Burmese cat was established.
Phenotypically still within the CFA standard, this "strain"
of Burmese expresses a more rounded head with a higher
frontal prominence, a shorter, broader muzzle, seeming
larger and more prominent eyes, and generally a more demarcated
nose break. This shorter, broader muzzle form has been
referred to as the "Eastern", "new look",
"Contemporary", or "more extreme".
The longer, narrower muzzle form is referred to as "Traditional"
or "less extreme". The "more extreme"
Burmese quickly became popular in the show ring and intensive
breeding programs ensued. Shortly after the widespread
establishment of the "more extreme" cats, litters
involving the "more extreme" cats as both parents
began to produce kittens with a severe congenital craniofacial
deformity." From the Results section: "The "more
extreme" facial structure is strongly associated
with the defect, but no strict "threshold" could
be determined. Breeders should realize that not all short
facial structures are due to this gene. For example, Persians
have very short facial structures, but do not have a problem
with this defect. In addition, many "Traditional"
Burmese breeders have successfully produced cats that
have shorter facial structures that are not a result of
contemporary breedings, but due to selection of cats with
the preferred type."