Cats’ Obsession

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the success of Calvin Klein’s ‘Obsession’ cologne and its ability to lure big cats.

‘Zoos have long spritzed perfumes and colognes on rocks, trees and toys in an effort to keep confined animals curious.

In 2003, Pat Thomas, general curator for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York, decided to get scientific about it. Working with 24 fragrances and two cheetahs, he recorded how long it took the big cats to notice the scent and how much time they spent interacting with it.

The results left barely a whiff of a doubt. Estée Lauder’s Beautiful occupied the cheetahs on average for just two seconds. Revlon’s Charlie managed 15.5 seconds. Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps took it up to 10.4 minutes. But the musky Obsession for Men triumphed: 11.1 minutes. That’s longer than the cats usually take to savor a meal.’

For a full text version of the article and video links, check out


After reading this, we immediately emailed Aida Bustamante, one of the principal researchers with Yaguara Wild Cats Conservation to see if they’re using ‘Obsession’ at their camera trap sites in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.  Here’s what she had to say:

‘For decades scientists and sport hunters have used attractants to see if the species to which they wish to see comes to the desired location in less time by placing the substance to attract them. Since 2000 members of Yaguará have used Obsession by Calvin Klein, to see the effect of this attractant and also try out other ideas.
In the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, sometimes we used CK and catnip, and this is because, CK has a peculiar smell which is appealing to many species, not just the cats.

Now that we know this, what we do is that when a camera trap is very slow detecting the animals, we use the fragrances in front of the camera trap and thus the animals to stop and smell and then we can get better pictures and if we capture any wild cat, we can identify them with greater certainty. We believe that the effectiveness of the attractant in cats is because it is always located on the camera trap places and these are usually trails that they usually often use.’

Jaguar caught on one of Yaguara's cameras with 'Obsession' sprayed nearby.
This tayra likes 'Obsession'.
And so does this tapir.....

For more information on Yaguara’s research and to see additional photos from camera traps, visit  Reefs to Rockies is committed to making a donation to Yaguara whenever clients book Costa Rica itineraries that include the Osa Peninsula.  In addition, we can also schedule an unforgettable outing with Aida or Ricardo from Yaguara to track cats in the forest.