The smell got so bad over Thanksgiving weekend this year that more than a dozen complaints poured in to local officials. A supervisor with the North Carolina Department of Air Quality even drafted an official memo admitting that he could smell a "faint cat odor" in the area, which prompted an investigation that initially traced the smell to an area plastics factory. However, that theory has since been debunked, and the awful aroma's origins remain a mystery.
According to local media, many believe the source of the smell to be a combination of factors, including both fumes from nearby factories and "swamp gas." Experts also think it's exacerbated when the temp drops and the cooler, denser air traps the smell closer to the ground. And while many are primarily concerned by how the rampant stink affects quality of life, others are troubled by the idea that it might also be dangerous and toxic to humans.