Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Do I Smell Cat Piss

AKA The Full Cat Piss Moon

I know this might sound crazy, but cat butts is a thing.

I wrote Hidden Scents because I have this thing where I smell what others can’t. This is not to say that my nose is any better than anyone else’s, only that I must pay attention more.

For example, I've been catching cat piss like crazy lately. Maybe you will too, now that I'm mentioning it.

The other day I'm at my friend’s house. “Come out back, check out my new weathervane.” I go outside, and BOOM, it hits me in the face. At first I thought they bombed their yard with mosquito repellent. Nah, that's definitely cat piss. You see, in a situation like this, I have learned not to say anything. Chances are they won't smell it, and I'll seem insulting. I wait a minute, just to make sure. After all, she is female, and I do smell “cat piss” on women sometimes (and once in awhile on men too) but I won't get into that...except to suggest that since civetone is such a big molecule, and lasts so long as a fragrance ingredient, that I might just be getting very old whiffs of that.

Anyway, finally I'm sure it's cat piss, so I go for it, “You have stray cats around here?”

“Yeah, why?“ “You don’t smell it?” No. They never do.

Yesterday it happened again. We are outside looking through the telescope – a crescent moon and Saturn – a beautiful night. And there it is. Listen – I actually don't mind the smell – it's fragrant! It's no coincidence that civet (which smells a lot like cat piss because it basically is cat piss) has been a primary ingredient in perfume for centuries.

Back to the backyard. The friends I’m with now are both male, so I don't hesitate, “You got stray cats up in here?”

“All over…You smell it don't you??” He knows; he's the guy who helped me name my book so he's familiar with my nose-thing. I sniffed-out the mold in his house a few years ago. “It’s mating season, I hear ‘em at night going crazy.”

Later that night, and out of nowhere, he says, “Yeah, it's like a perfume, I can smell it now.” Finally. I'm not alone.

I urge anyone who knows more about this than I do to leave a comment, and I'll continue a bit about civet.

And is it really cat mating season?

*Let's get this out of the way real quick: there is an ingredient in perfume called blackcurrant bud that smells like cat piss, and it does grow around here, and it fruits in midsummer. My friends, however, do not have any blackcurrant bushes on their property. Thanks Perfume Shrine for this.

Civet is a kind of animal musk. In this case, it is a fragrant substance taken from a certain kind of wild cat by the same name, and usually specified as the African Civet. For centuries, these cats (it’s technically more like a mongoose) were hunted and trapped for their potent, musky pheromones, which are repeatedly scraped from their anal glands while in captivity. At smaller dilutions it becomes very pleasant – just like grapefruit oil, which at the right concentration can make you vomit uncontrollably. Civetone is the name given to the molecule that most represents the Civet smell, and it is very similar to Musk/Muscone, and has in it traces of Skatole (faeces). I’m not certain of this, but I think any synthetic alternative to getting Civetone is kept a secret. You can buy it, but you can’t make it yourself (without hella experimentin’ chemists).

In order to attract jaguars, National Geographic-type people are known to use Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men 1986.

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