Civet is a fundamental French perfume material, a historic girder of the industry and the quintessential scent of France. It happens to come from the anal gland of the civet cat. The perfume material from the anal gland is found in both males and females. And it smells — quite simply — like anus. Since civet is hugely powerful and long-lasting (cats use the odor to mark their territory,) and since these are qualities valued by perfumers, it’s not surprising that civet is one of the fundamentals of French perfume. Talk to any perfumer, even American ones, and they’ll say that civet, used in tiny quantities, breathes astonishing life into perfumes, giving them weight and depth. Civet is like adding whole cream to soups or sauces: what could make you gag taken straight up and raw becomes, when underpinning the greater mix, golden and sensual. Photo credit: MSNBC, which is also an interesting read, Civets, other wildlife off the Chinese menu.