How to De-Skunk a Cat After Being Sprayed

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Skunks are among those few extremely successful species which seem to get along almost as well in cities and suburbs as in wild places. This can present problems when the local version of Pepé Le Pew turns his attentions toward your kitty and leaves her smelling less than ideally perfumed. If that happens, instead of trying the usual tomato juice bath to de-skunk -- which does not work -- use everyday household peroxide and baking soda instead.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 quart-sized bottle 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (household strength)
  • 1 teaspoon Dawn dish detergent
  • Plastic mixing container
  • Plastic or wooden mixing spoon
  • Short-handled fishing net (optional) OR a helper
  • Towels

De-skunking Process

Step1

Don rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin or any open cuts, since this mixture may sting a bit. Mix the baking soda, peroxide and dish detergent together in a large plastic bowl or bucket. You may add up to a quart of warm water to the solution for extra coverage if your cat is very large, but the solution works best at full strength.

Step 2

Place the de-skunking solution, towels and short-handled fishing net (or a helper) close at hand next to the bathing area before you corral your cat because, once de-skunking operations begin, you probably won't convince her to hang around while you go in search of anything you may have forgotten.

Step 3

Put your kitty in a large sink or elevated wash tub so that you can comfortably stand while washing her. (You may want to give her a good brushing at this point to fluff up her fur so the de-skunking solution will penetrate more easily.) Enlist a helper to hold her firmly or place a short-handled fishing net over her entire body as she stands in the sink -- to hold her in place while you bathe her.

Warning

  • Be prepared to hang on tight! Cats and water don't go well together, and she will probably fight this tooth and claw -- thus the need for helper or net to provide restraint.

Step 4

Wet your kitty all over with warm tap water first, then carefully drizzle the de-skunking solution over the affected areas. Use your hands to thoroughly massage the solution into her fur, so that it penetrates completely. Skunks tend to aim for their victim's face, so if you must apply the solution to your cat's head area, be very careful to avoid getting the solution into her eyes.

Tip

  • Dab a bit of mineral oil around your kitty's eyes and on her nose before applying the de-skunking solution to help prevent stinging those sensitive areas. (See Ref. http://www.petsit.com/pet-care-tips--psi-staff, about 1/3 down page)

Step 5

Let the solution set on your kitty for at least 5 minutes to give it time to do its job. (You may want to sing or otherwise entertain kitty at this point because it is asking a lot of a soaking wet cat to wait quietly, for several minutes, and she is not going to be in a good mood.)

Step 6

Do a quick all-over sniff test, and if she no longer reeks of eau-de-skunk, proceed to gently but thoroughly rinse the de-skunking solution out of your cat's fur. Unfortunately, you may need to repeat this operation if the odor lingers.

Step 7

When kitty passes the sniff test, dry her well with towels, give her a treat and -- if she is still speaking to you -- ask her to please not entertain dubious-smelling strangers in the future.

Warning

  • At this point if you have any de-skunking solution left over, avoid the temptation to store it. This solution is not stable! Not only does it break down quickly and become ineffective for deodorizing, but more importantly, it will build up pressure when stored in a closed container and may explode violently. Never store this solution -- especially in a closed glass container! Pour any remaining solution down the drain.

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