The team with the only 100% home record in all four divisions of the league extended it to nine wins out of nine and in the process leapfrogged Middlesbrough to go second in the Championship, two points behind the leaders, Crystal Palace.
The Cardiff City Stadium remains a fastness, courtesy of an early set-piece header from Matt Connolly, but Boro hit back hard in the second half and the quality of their football, and amount of possession deserved at least a point.
Instead Cardiff defended bravely and assiduously, despite the loss of two of their back four, injured, after 26 minutes, and will now set a club record of 10 consecutive home wins if they beat Sheffield Wednesday on 2 December.
Boro had won in the Welsh capital in each of the last two seasons, derailing Cardiff's promotion bid with a convincing 3-0 victory in their penultimate match in 2010-11, and this was always going to be the acid test for that pristine home sequence.
As Friday's manager of the month award suggests, Tony Mowbray is doing a remarkably good job with Boro, just as he did with West Brom, establishing the club for whom he played for so long as major promotion contenders on a pauper's budget. Forced into parsimony in the market, he has assembled a fine footballing team largely through admirable scouting of the lower divisions.
A notable absentee on Saturday, especially when the goal went in, was Jonathan Woodgate. The former England centre-half failed a fitness test and gave way to Seb Hines, whose match could have lasted less than three minutes. That was as long as it took him to commit a potential leg-breaker of a foul on Craig Noone, which merited red rather than the yellow card Oliver Langford opted for.
Connolly, restored at right-back, contributed his fourth goal of the season, but as one defender returned two more joined the club's long casualty list. Ben Turner limped off after 14 minutes, to be replaced by the 18-year-old Ben Nugent, who was making his Championship debut, and 12 minutes later Andrew Taylor, playing against his old club, had to give way to Joe Ralls.
Cardiff took the lead after 18 minutes, when a corner from Peter Whittingham, taken on the right, was headed home close in at the far post by Connolly. Mowbray said of the goal: "It came from a familiar route for them, Whittingham has a terrific left foot and they are very good at set plays."
Boro took the blow flush in the chin and bounced back in impressive fashion. Grant Leadbitter threatened equality with a long range lob which had David Marshall fully extended in touching the ball over his crossbar and Scott McDonald should have had Boro back on terms in added time at the end of the first half but, one-on-one with Marshall, scooped his shot over.
The force was with Boro in the second half and Marvin Emnes, on as substitute for Lukas Jutkiewicz, had two acceptable chances, then, in added time, Grant Leadbitter was tantalisingly close from distance.
Mowbray thought his team should have won and said: "If we can keep our present level of performance for the rest of the season, we'll be OK."
Malky Mackay pointed out that Cardiff should have had a penalty when André Amougou (formerly André Bikey) brought down Joe Mason in the second half.
The Cardiff manager praised the resilience of his defence after losing two key components. He said: "It was always going to be a tough game and it was rendered even tougher when we lost two players in the first 26 minutes. I had to bring on young Nugent for his league debut, then put a square peg in a round hole when 19-year-old Joe Ralls came on at left-back, and the two of them coped very well."