Scent of a Kitten: Perfumer Debuts 'Kitten Fur' Fragrance

Cat lovers can now drench themselves in kitten-fresh fragrance. (Image credit: Demeter Fragrance Library)

Our sense of smell plays an important role in how we interpret the world around us. And for people who love cats, there are few scents as welcome as the smell of the soft fur on a kitten's head.

That delectable scent is now available in a bottle. Perfume company Demeter Fragrance Library (DFL) recently announced the release of a new fragrance dubbed "Kitten Fur." The perfume captures "the olfactory essence of the warmth and comfort of that "purr"-fect spot, just behind a kitten's neck," according to a product description on the company's website.

Kitten Fur joins a range of Demeter scents that are also inspired by the natural world, including Giant Sequoia, Mountain Air, Grass, Dirt and Earthworm. But how do you bottle up the evocative scent of a kitten? [Tip of the Tongue: The 7 (Other) Flavors Humans May Taste]

To identify and replicate the distinctive scent signature produced by a place or object, perfumers may use a technique called headspace technology, in which they isolate and sample the air near its source, in order to build a chemical fingerprint that can be analyzed and replicated in the lab, said Mark Crames, Kitten Fur creator and the CEO of DFL.

However, making Kitten Fur was complicated. The number of materials that can be safely applied directly to the skin is limited, restricting a perfumer's chemical palette for mixing up new smells. Re-creating the scent produced by large organic molecules such as those found in animal smells is especially tricky — "it's just really hard to get the kind of depth, complexity and subtlety that you need," Crames told Live Science. Plant smells, by comparison, are easier to simulate, he added.

Kitten Fur was by far the most-requested fragrance by DFL customers (closely followed by Bacon and Puppy's Breath, both of which are still in development, according to the company). Crames spent 15 years working on Kitten Fur before the scent finally clicked, thanks to a compound that he hadn't come across before, which formed the base for the distinctive kitten smell, he said.

Before Kitten Fur, there had only been one other animal essence in the DFL perfume lineup — the equally bewitching scent New Baby — a smell that is known to trigger dopamine surges in new mothers when produced by an actual newborn. New Baby presented olfactory challenges, just as Kitten Fur did. But there are elements in New Baby that made it somewhat easier to reproduce than Kitten Fur — the smells of lotion, powder and baby shampoo, which are strongly associated with infants, Crames said.

And what exactly does a kitten smell like? "Almost like a combination of skin and sunshine," according to Crames.

Kitten Fur is available exclusively on the DFL website as a cologne, perfume, shower gel and body oil.

Original article on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.  Her book "Rise of the Zombie Bugs: The Surprising Science of Parasitic Mind Control" will be published in spring 2025 by Johns Hopkins University Press.