This surprising fact was initially discovered by researchers at the Bronx Zoo who compared twenty-three different perfumes’ abilities to attract tigers’ attention. One of the least successful was Estée Lauder’s Beautiful which kept cats occupied only for 2 seconds. Revlon’s Charlie worked for 15.5 seconds, Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps for 10.4 minutes, but the clear winner was Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men which kept the cats concentrating on it for 11.1 minutes.
It turned out that the zoo researchers weren’t the only ones interested in attracting big cats to specific locations. Field researchers in Guatemala and Nicaragua have started using the perfume to attract jaguars to their field cameras. The scent entices the cats to rub their chin and cheeks on whatever item has been sprayed. Scientists are then able to grab the hairs left behind for research purposes.
The reason cats are crazy for this eau de toilette is thought to be civetone, the compound used to achieve its characteristic musky smell. Civetone, the smelly component of civet oil, is the pheromone of the African civet, a cute little animal native to the woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. Once upon a time, civet oil had to be extracted from the perineal glands of the creatures, but thankfully nowadays it can be synthesized from palm oil.