Many genes influencing mammalian coat colours are well conserved. While genes responsible for pelage phenotypes in one species provide strong evidence for a candidate gene in a different species, the X-linked orange phenotype of the domestic cat is unique within mammals. The orange locus (O) undergoes X-inactivation, producing females that express both wildtype black (wt) and orange (variant) phenotypes when heterozygous (tortoiseshell). The orange locus has not yet been localized on the X chromosome. Tortoiseshell male cats have been identified but have been shown to be sex chromosome trisomies (XXY). To localize the cat orange locus, 10 feline-derived X-linked microsatellites were analysed in two extended cat pedigrees consisting of 79 and 55 individuals, respectively, segregating for the orange phenotype. Linkage analyses excluded close association of orange in the vicinity of the nine informative X-linked microsatellites. One marker was not polymorphic within either family. Several markers suggested exclusion (Z < -2.0) at distances of 7.5-33 cM. Exclusion analyses suggested a possible location for orange a 14 cM region near Xcen. Recombination distances of markers in the segregating feline pedigrees were reduced as compared with the feline interspecies backcross family. Thus, the presented pedigrees may be useful as reference families for the domestic cat because more accurate recombination rates for domestic cats can be determined.