Tortoiseshell coat color is normally restricted to female cats due to X-linkage of the gene that encodes the orange coat color. Tortoiseshell male cats do, however, occur at a low frequency among tortoiseshell cats because of chromosome aberrations similar to the Klinefelter syndrome in man: the extra X chromosome of a 39,XXY karyotype introduces the possibility of an orange and a non-orange allele which produce the mixture of orange and non-orange coat spotting known as tortoiseshell. We analyzed the chromosome complement of a fibroblast culture and did histological examinations of testicular tissue from a tortoiseshell male cat referred to us. Chromosome analysis using RBA-banding consistently revealed a 39,XXY karyotype. Histological examinations of testis biopsies from this cat showed degeneration of the tubules, hyperplasia of the interstitial tissue, and complete loss of germ cells. Immunostaining using anti-vimentin and anti-VASA (DDX4) showed that only Sertoli cells and no germ cells were observed in the testicular tubules. As no sign of spermatogenesis was detected, we conclude that this is a classic case of a sterile, male tortoiseshell cat with a 39,XXY chromosome complement.

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