Calvin Klein Cologne Lures Cats to the Camera

A curious golden cat, lured to a camera trap by cologne, poses for a photo in Uganda. (Image credit: WCS)

Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men is the fragrance of choice for field biologists. Beyond luring romantic partners, the masculine blend also attracts cats and other animals to remote cameras in the jungle.

New footage released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) shows an African golden cat investigating a camera trap in a protected rainforest in Uganda. WCS scientists say they baited the creature with Obsession for Men, which is commonly used in the field.

Scientific American previously reported on the Obsession phenomenon, explaining that biologists have used the fragrance to lure jaguars in Nicaragua. The cologne is thought to contain civetone, which comes from the scent glands of nocturnal cats called civets.

That chemical lends a musky note to Obsession for Men but it also resembles a territorial marking, stirring the jaguars' curiosity and prompting the cats to leave their own odorous calling card. The African golden cat, too, was recorded marking its own scent at the camera trap site in Uganda's Kibale National Park.

The cat, whose scientific name is Caracal aurata, is a secretive species. It is thought to roam tropical rain forests across equatorial Africa, but most scientists working in these jungles have never seen a live golden cat in the wild, according to WCS officials. Scientists with the cat conservation organization Panthera in Gabon only recorded the first footage of the species in the wild in 2011.

More camera trap footage could help researchers understand the species and address its conservation needs. Already, these images have led to the discovery that African golden cats are active both night and day, or "cathemeral," not strictly nocturnal as previously thought.

African golden cats are listed as near-threated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), often considered the chief authority on the conservation status of species.

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.