Science With Hannah: The Purr-fect Smell

Hannah Narvaez, Staff Blogger~

When I think of the purpose of wearing perfume, it’s to smell just a little bit better
than usual.

Like something flowery or fruity, sometimes I come across an occasional “musky”
smell that appeals to me. Perfume is just an odd human thing. We really only wear
perfume (and cologne) for other humans. But what about the scent-demands of our
animals?

Many mammals, especially our household pets, have stronger olfactory senses
and, therefore, have a heightened scent sensitivity compared to their human owners.
We are still very much able to pick up on certain scents our animals can be associated
with; for example, wet-dog- smell and kitty-litter- smell.

But what about the smell of a brand new kitten? Does anyone know what I am
talking about? Well, apparently the delightful smell of a kitten is available in a bottle at
your convenience.

The company Demeter Fragrance Library (DFL) recently announced its newest
fragrance dubbed “Kitten Fur,” and it wasn’t an easy task to create.

According to the company’s website, the perfume captures “the olfactory essence
of the warmth and comfort of that purr-fect spot, just behind a kitten’s neck.”

Cat perfume

Illustration by Genevieve Griffin

Fifteen years in the making, this complicated fragrance was finally figured out.
Re-creating the scent produced by large organic molecules such as those found in
animal scents is especially tricky—"it’s just really hard to get the kind of depth, complexity and subtlety that you need," Mark Crames, DFL CEO and “Kitten Fur” creator, told LiveScience Magazine. Plant smells, by comparison, are easier to simulate, he added.

Creating a perfume scent is not easy work. In order to identify and replicate the
distinctive scent signature produced by a place or object, perfumers usually use a
technique referred to as headspace technology.

The process involves isolating and sampling the air near a scent’s source in order
to build a chemical fingerprint that can be analyzed and chemically replicated in the lab.

I personally cannot say I would use the “Kitten Fur” scent. But according to the
company’s fragrance requests, it was by far the most requested by DFL customers,
unbelievably closely followed by “Bacon,” which is still currently in development.

Mark Crames further explained that the number of ingredients that can be safely
applied directly to skin are limited, which can be restricting for creative and new
fragrances.

I would also think there should be an allergy concern when it comes to this scent
especially.

Hopefully with this chemistry-linked breakthrough in the perfume world that came
with the success of “Kitten Fur,” more interesting and nostril-opening smells will arise
from this company soon.

I am curious to see just what they are going to come up with next!