civet  (sē-vā´).—A ragoût of hare [civet de lièvre (lyā´vr )], deer [civet de chevreuil  (she-vrû´y )], or other game, into which wine and onions enter as ingredients.
Civets have elongated bodies, terrierlike heads, small, round, five-toed feet with imperfectly sheathed claws, long, often bushy tails, and coats of rough dark-colored hair marked with blackish stripes, bars, or squarish blotches. The species are numerous, and varied, those of central Africa, called "genets," resembling weasels. They include the linsangs of the East Indies, with soft, fawn-colored fur; several East Indian species inhabiting trees and going by the name of "tree cats" and "toddy cats," one of which is domesticated as a mouser and pretty pet by the natives; and the black binturong of the Orient, which is the only animal of the Old World, not a marsupial, that has a prehensile tail.

The distinctive peculiarity of the true civet cats is the possession of a pair of open pouches in the groin holding an oily substance having an intense musky odor and known as "civet." This is present in the five Oriental species, but is most copious in the civet cat of northern Africa, which on this account is kept captive and occasionally relieved, by the aid of a small spoon, of its civet for which perfumers will pay a high price.