Cat breeders are an experimental lot, creating distinctive new breeds either by building on natural genetic mutations or by crossing breeds to achieve a new look, color or pattern. The Bombay, named for the exotic port city of India, has no connection with the subcontinent but was created from crosses between sable Burmese and black American Shorthairs to resemble a black panther in miniature.
Breeder Nikki Horner of Louisville, Kentucky, is credited with developing the Bombay, starting in the late 1950s. Her goal was a sleek, shiny black cat with a muscular body and friendly temperament. British breeders achieved the same look and personality with crosses of Burmese and black domestic shorthairs.
The Cat Fanciers Association gave the Bombay full recognition in 1978. Today the breed is recognized by all cat associations. To maintain their body type and coat texture, Bombays may be outcrossed to sable Burmese. The CFA also permits outcrosses to black American Shorthairs, but this is rarely done because of differences in body type.