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(sĭv`ət) or

civet cat,

any of a large group of mostly nocturnal mammals of the Old World family Viverridae (civet family), which also includes the mongoosemongoose,
name for a large number of small, carnivorous, terrestrial Old World mammals of the civet family. They are found in S Asia and in Africa, with one species extending into S Spain.
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. Civets are not true cats, but the civet family is related to the cat family (Felidae). Most civets have catlike bodies, long tails, and weasellike faces. Their fur may be gray or brown, and may be marked in various patterns. All civets have scent-producing glands, located in a double pouch near the genitals. The fatty yellow secretion of these glands has a distinctive musky odor used for territorial marking. Commercially, this substance is known as civet and is used as a perfume fixative. Civet can be removed from captive animals every 14 to 20 days. Some civet species are hunted for their fur. The ground-living, or true, civets form a distinctive group within the family; these animals have a highly carnivorous diet. Most have dark spots and ringed tails. They include several Asian species (genus Viverra) and one African species (Civettictis civetta). Best known is the Indian civet, V. zibetha, of S Asia, from which most of the civet for perfume is derived. It has tawny fur with black spots and black bands on the tail. It is about 30 in. (76 cm) long, excluding the 20-in. (42-cm) tail, and about 15 in. (38 cm) high at the shoulder; it weighs up to 25 lb (11 kg). Its musk glands are greatly enlarged. Some of the ground-living civets are called linsangs and genets. The palm civets form another distinct group within the civet family. These are arboreal, largely fruit-eating animals of Africa and Asia; they are classified in several genera. The North American spotted skunk is sometimes popularly called civet but is not closely related to civets. Civets are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Viverridae.



(Viverra), a genus of carnivorous mammals of the family Viverridae. Body length, 60-85 cm; tail length, 31-48 cm. The civets have glands which secrete a substance called civet.

There are three species: the Indian civet (V. zibetha), V. megaspila, and V. tangalunga. Civets are found in Southeast Asia. The Indian civet is encountered in Nepal, South China, and Assam as far as the Malay Peninsula. Civets live in the forests and dense brush, rarely climbing trees. They are nocturnal animals and often live close to settlements. Civets feed on small animals (birds and rodents), insects, and sometimes fruits and nuts. Civets breed once a year and sometimes twice; there are two to five kittens per litter. Civets are hunted for their musk and sometimes are bred in captivity. The name civet has also been applied to the representatives of certain other genera of the Viverridae family such as Vi~ verricula and Civettictis.



A fatty substance secreted by the civet gland; used as a fixative in perfumes.
(vertebrate zoology)
Any of 18 species of catlike, nocturnal carnivores assigned to the family Viverridae, having a long head, pointed muzzle, and short limbs with nonretractile claws.


1. any catlike viverrine mammal of the genus Viverra and related genera, of Africa and S Asia, typically having blotched or spotted fur and secreting a powerfully smelling fluid from anal glands
2. the yellowish fatty secretion of such an animal, used as a fixative in the manufacture of perfumes
3. the fur of such an animal
4. short for palm civet
References in periodicals archive ?
Finally, the manner in which civet is obtained here--the animal itself smears it on the mountain--recalls what appears to be a distinctive feature of the manner in which civet was (and is) collected in India, by keeping the civet cats together with a log onto which they smear the secretion--this being arguably a less painful manner of extraction than the Ethiopian spoon-scrape.
He wants to see human power as it is emblematized in the reduction of animal to product--the civet cat into the 'ounce of civet'--to reassure himself that, at this moment of crisis, there is some order in the universe.
A mass culling of civet cats, considered a delicacy in southern China, in the province was soon after carried out.
To contain the spread of SARS, Chinese health officials ordered the extermination of civet cats in the markets.
The diagnosis came hours after China ordered 10,000 civet cats in wildlife markets - and several related species - killed in its southern province of Guangdong after genetic tests suggested a link to the patient there.
The diagnosis came hours after China ordered 10,000 civet cats in wildlife markets -and several related species -killed in its southern province of Guangdong after genetic tests suggested a link to the patient there.
CHINA: Health officials have ordered the slaughter of 10,000 civet cats and related species by the weekend to contain a possible Sars outbreak.
Genetic sequencing of viral samples taken from the man showed that one of the proteins from the virus was identical to a related protein in a new, mutated sublineage of a SARS-like virus found in civet cats.
95 (Selfridges) An 'unusualtasting' coffee - unusual in that the coffee beans are eaten by Civet cats and the coffee is made from their droppings
Se sospecha que el mal surgio en Guangzhou (al sur de China) y que su causa, un coronavirus, "salto" de unos animales llamados civet cats a los humanos debido a la convivencia en condiciones poco higienicas: --La mejor manera de evitar contagios (el del SIDA paso de monos a humanos) es mantener una higiene escrupulosa sin contactos innecesarios con animales salvajes --dice el experto.
A top Hong Kong scientist said research showed it was likely the virus that has now killed almost 700 people worldwide jumped to humans from civet cats - a delicacy in southern China.
Baiting, a popular pig-hunting method in the States, seemed the obvious alternative, but with 10-foot monitor lizards, civet cats, and monkeys raiding bait stations before pigs could claim them, baiting was out of the question.