Imagine how dumb you’d feel if, instead of getting attacked by an animal that was afraid of you, you just ended up smelling really, really badly?
Well, that’s basically what’s guaranteed to happen to your cat if they walk up to a skunk. The only difference between you and them is that they don’t know any better.
But, with the help of this quick read, at least you won’t have to worry about the skunk odor on your cat for too long if they do get sprayed.
What is Skunk Spray?
Skunk spray is a combination of several different gaseous compounds called thiols which bind quickly and strongly to skin proteins. The most prevalent chemical found in the thiols that constitute skunk spray is sulfur, which is why it smells so disgustingly bad.
Skunk spray is produced in the skunk’s anal glands. When a skunk is scared or threatened, it will aim their anus at the perceived threat and shoot their spray directly at them – sometimes from up to 15 feet away.
Why Do Skunks Spray?
Most of the time, skunks spray this putrid odor as a means of defending themselves against potential predators like wolves, owls, or coyotes.
However, skunks do have good manners, they don’t just spray first and ask questions later. In fact, they’ll give you plenty of warning before they do the dirty deed.
When a skunk starts to feel threatened, they’ll often hiss at the perceived threat as if to say “Do not mess with me”. If that doesn’t deter the threat, the skunk may stomp their feet and puff out their little chests to appear strong and ready for action. It’s only after all that has failed that a skunk will finally spray someone.
The reason skunks go to such lengths to avoid spraying people is because, well, they don’t have a lot of spray. And it takes a long time to replenish their
spraying liquid – like 10 days long. In that time, they’d be supremely vulnerable to other threats if they waste their spray on you,
Of course, there are other uses for spraying besides protection. For example, did you know some male skunks have been observed to spray other male skunks in competition for mates? Crazy right?
How to Avoid Getting Sprayed by a Skunk
Look, not getting sprayed by a skunk is very simple. All you have to do is just leave skunks alone.
Skunks aren’t predators of humans or other large animals, so it’s not as though they have a reason to seek you out. Instead, it’s infinitely more likely that you would accidentally stumble upon them, either in their habitat or in your backyard.
If that happens, don’t sweat, don’t make a big scene. Just give the skunk its space and, if it approaches you for some reason, just remember the warning signs of an imminent spray-down that we talked about above.
Luckily, you probably already know this. You were probably told at least once to not mess with wildlife when you were younger, especially with skunks. However, cats haven’t been told that. They don’t know how thoroughly a skunk can mess up your day (or week).Instead of seeing a potential odorous hazard, many cats see skunks as a long, shiny, white tuft of hair with four stumpy black legs that demands immediate investigation..
So, the skunk will then try its best to warn the cat about how bad her day is going to get, but to no avail. She is way too curious!
Then, the skunk will turn its face away, lift its tail, and…well you know how that story goes.
How to Deskunk Your Cat
So, your pointy-eared pal was just sprayed by a skunk. That’s just too bad.
Well, not to fear, skunk spray isn’t necessarily toxic or inherently harmful to cats (unless ingested).
However, and this is important to remember: if your cat was sprayed directly in the face, you need to take them to the vet. Cats who are sprayed directly in the face can develop acute anemia, making their gums pale, their appetite depressed, and their thirst increased.
Luckily, acute anemia as a result of skunk spray is pretty rare. But the smell is not. Thankfully, you won’t have to hang around that terrible scent for too long.
All you have to do is just follow this little guide we put together, and soon enough your little kitty will be smelling fresh as a…. cat?
Keep Your Cat Outside if She has Been Skunked
Do not, and we repeat do not, let your cat inside if they’ve been sprayed by a skunk. Trust us on this one. You just don’t want to know, firsthand, what it’s like when that smell is tracked inside your home.
Check Them for Injuries
While skunk spray isn’t the worst thing your cat could encounter, an angry skunk is nothing to sneeze (or sniff) at. They can and will defend themselves with their claws and mouth if they feel it’s necessary.
After you’ve sequestered your cat to a safe place in the outdoors, check all over their face, neck, and body for signs of injuries.
Check The Eyes
We know – it pains us also to even imagine our cat’s beautiful eyes being damaged. But it unfortunately happens if too much skunk spray hits them: the sulfur inside the spray degrades the lining of the eyes. If you notice that your cat’s eyes look remarkably red, irritated, or swollen, immediately flush them out with cool water or a veterinarian-approved eyewash product.
However, this all changes if you think your cat was sprayed directly in the eyes instead of just getting some spray in their eyes. If you believe this is the case, seek prompt veterinary attention because skunk spray can damage the cornea and cause temporary blindness.
Remove Skunk Spray Oil from Their Fur
Besides being absolutely rancid, skunk spray loves to cling to your cat’s fur. Great. No need to worry though, getting this oily stuff off their beautiful coat isn’t too difficult.
First, grab the help of another person. Cats aren’t famous for their love of baths, so getting another set of hands is going to be useful in making this go as smoothly as possible.
Once you’ve acquired help from another person, have them hold your cat in place while you soak your cat’s fur in lukewarm water. Once properly soaked, lather up your cat with Dawn detergent (yes, the same stuff that’s advertised as being tough on grease) and begin gently massaging it into their fur.
Don’t be afraid to get deep into their fur – the point is to get as much grease out as possible. Once they’re fully sudsed up, wash them off again with plain warm water.
Make Your Cat Deskunking Solution
So, you’ve made sure your cat is injury-free and that their fur is oil-free. Great! Now’s the time to start making your DIY deskunking solution. Have no fear, you probably have most of the ingredients you need in your kitchen or laundry room already.
To make this solution, as described by Spruce Pets, you’ll need:
- Two, 500 ml bottles of 3% hydrogen peroxide (no stronger than 3%)
- ¼ cup of baking soda (not powder; only use baking soda for this recipe)
- Two teaspoons of liquid soap
- One quart of lukewarm water
- A clean mixing vessel like a bucket or bowl
- Mineral oil to protect your cat’s eyes
- Latex or rubber gloves
- Apron and eye goggles
- Old cloth towels
Once you’ve got all your materials together, you’re ready to make the solution. To do this, just combine the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap in one of the bottles. Add lukewarm water as needed.
Now, it’s time to bathe the cat. Again.
Bathing Your Cat to Get Rid of the Skunk smell
The bathing process begins by massaging the solution deep into your cat’s coat, making sure to aggressively scrub and break up any oils you didn’t catch during the initial wash.
To ensure this is as successful as possible, consider using a sponge, washcloth, curry comb, or any other tool that will let you deep clean your cat’s fur.
After you’ve deep cleaned your cat’s fur, just leave the solution in-place and wait until the odor becomes undetectable to your nose. If you can’t smell anything after fifteen minutes, you’re in the clear!
Rinse off your skunk victim with lukewarm water, dry her with your old cloth towels and give her as many head scratches as she’ll allow for being such a good kitty.
If you still smell something after fifteen minutes, repeat the bathing process described above until the odor has faded.
How to Prevent Your Cat from Being Sprayed by a Skunk
There’s an old saying that goes: the best defense is a good offense. The same thing can be said about protecting your cat from being sprayed by a skunk: you have to take proactive steps to minimize the chances of your cat encountering a skunk.
Perhaps the most impactful tip we can give you in that regard is to never leave any food outside in your yard. Not only will this keep skunks away, but it’ll keep most other animals out, too.
Additionally, you can block access to common skunk den spots such as underneath your porch or deck by tacking chicken wire all around them or by tossing mothballs into the space to dissuade them from nesting there.
Of course, some animals can’t help themselves. Some animals are just going to do certain things, even when there’s all the signs in the world telling them not to. For skunks, that might mean mozying into your yard or setting up shop underneath your deck. For Einstein, the world’s tiniest horse, that behavior might be making you squeal in surprise at how cute he is.
Finally, if you notice that your cat shows any signs of an irritating skin infections as a result of this trauma, reach for Banixx PetCare! This clinically-proven solution provides fast-acting, sting-free, odor-free (imagine that!) relief for a variety of unpleasant maladies without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics. Simply identify the affected area, apply Banixx once or twice daily, and in no time your cat will start feeling better. With Banixx, relief really can be that simple.
For more information on how to keep your cat happy and healthy, visit our cat blog at Banixx.for Cat.Lovers
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