Cat odor scares mice away ... and yet, it's also like an aphrodisiac. It seems like a mouse who smells like cat urine is particularly popular with the ladies!
To see if a whiff of cat might serve as a mouse repellent to help keep rodent pests away, researchers exposed mice to cat pee for eight weeks.
Unexpectedly, two months of cat odor did not lead to cowering mice, as one might expect from constant threatening. Instead, researchers found it led to aggressive males. These were more than twice as likely fight with other mice than rodents exposed to rabbit urine for the same amount of time.
And such combative males smelled delectable to females. When presented with male pee, females that were in heat spent more time sniffing urine from males exposed to cat odor for weeks than ones that had inhaled rabbit fumes.
Photo from andycarvin [Flickr], who noted that the photo was taken by researchers at the Sakano Lab in Japan. The mouse was genetically modified to block a particular olfactory receptor, and as a result, lost its fear of cat.