Fragrance Notes – Civet (Cat)

5 Oct

So my favorite perfume of all time contains an important odor that is most discernible to my nose: Civet. It is a sticky oil that‘s secreted from the anal glands of Civet cats, which smells awfully similar to rat urine and rodent feces.

These cats live in various parts of the world including the forests of India and outlying countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Nepal. The oil is a natural by-product used in famous fragrances like Shalimar, Chanel No5, Bois Santal by Creed, Obsession by Calvin Klein etc. It is an odor similar to musk but distinctively different, more palpable in my opinion.

Most civet oils are produced on farms in eastern Africa, where the precious liquids are collected weekly from caged animals. Civet is famous for its complex composition: putrid and foul when fresh. However, once diluted yields an animalic sweet substance that enhances and even altars the composition of other ingredients.

Today civet is mass produced in its synthetic form, which is easier to create and more environmentally friendly. If you want true civets in fragrances, look for any of the aforementioned fragrances in its vintage form (pre-1990s).