Albino phenotypes are documented in a variety of species including the domestic cat. As albino phenotypes in other species are associated with tyrosinase (TYR) mutations, TYR was proposed as a candidate gene for albinism in cats. An Oriental and Colourpoint Shorthair cat pedigree segregating for albinism was analysed for association with TYR by linkage and sequence analyses. Microsatellite FCA931, which is closely linked to TYR and TYR sequence variants were tested for segregation with the albinism phenotype. Sequence analysis of genomic DNA from wild-type and albino cats identified a cytosine deletion in TYR at position 975 in exon 2, which causes a frame shift resulting in a premature stop codon nine residues downstream from the mutation. The deletion mutation in TYR and an allele of FCA931 segregated concordantly with the albino phenotype. Taken together, our results suggest that the TYR gene corresponds to the colour locus in cats and its alleles, from dominant to recessive, are as follows: C (full colour) > c(b) (burmese) > or = c(s) (siamese) > c (albino).