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Havana Brown Cat VS. Bombay Cat

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Havana Brown Cat VS. Bombay Cat.

What are the differences between these two cat breeds?

In 1920, the Siamese Cat Club of Britain decided that brown cats without blue eyes were no longer desirable, and that was that. Breeders lost interest in them until the 1950s, when a group of British cat breeders set themselves the task of determining the genetic makeup of a selfbrown (solidcolored) cat. They eventually produced a male chestnutbrown kitten, the result of a cross between a shorthaiared black cat and a chocolatepoint Siamese.

Russian Blues and Burmese may also have played a role in the development of what came to be known as the Havana Brown (whose only connection to Cuba is the supposed resemblance of his color to that of a fine Havana cigar). But as it turned out, according to an article in the 1982 CFA Yearbook, the most successful and most often used breeding to produce a selfbrown cat was between a black shorthair and a sealpoint Siamese carrying the chocolate gene.

The Havana Brown is a rare breed, so much so that his genetic diversity is threatened. It has been propped up by an outcrossing program begun in 1998, which permits the cats to be bred to unregistered black or blue domestic shorthairs or certain colors of Oriental Shorthairs or chocolatepoint or sealpoint Siamese. The kittens produced by those breedings can then be bred to Havana Browns. If those kittens have the Havana Brown coloring, they can be registered as Havana Browns.

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.


The Havana Brown’s distinctive color extends even to his whiskers. He is the only cat with a breed standard that spells out whisker color: brown, of course, complementing the coat color.

Looking out from all that Minkybrown richness are vivid green eyes with an oval shape. The Havana is also distinguished by his uncommon head shape; it’s longer than it is wide. Large ears tilt forward.

He has a firm, muscular body covered in short, smooth fur in a rich, warm reddishbrown. Kittens and young adults may have the barest hint of tabby markings, which disappear as they mature. The nose leather is brown with a rosy flush, and the paw pads are rosy brown as well.

Except for his dramatic black coat, the Bombay looks much like the Burmese, but with a few physical differences such as a larger, longer body and longer legs. He has a rounded head with mediumsize ears set wide apart, eyes that range in color from gold to copper, and a straight, mediumlength tail. The short, fine coat feels satiny to the touch and shines like patent leather.

Although the gene for the black coat is dominant, a sablecolored kitten is sometimes born in a Bombay litter. Some associations permit these kittens to be registered as Burmese.

The Bombay is a mediumsize cat; when lifted, he feels heftier than he looks. The breed develops slowly and males may not reach full size and musculature until they are 2 years old.
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