How to Clean Tough Messes from Your Cat’s Fur


It happens to almost all of us at some point: Kitty gets into something he shouldn’t, and before you know it, you’ve got an oily, skunk-bombed, chewing-gummed, gluey, or otherwise miserable and dirty cat on your hands. Here are safe and effective techniques for removing four of the most obnoxious and persistent messes your cat could encounter.

1. Oil

Whether it’s motor oil, fuels, vitamin oils, baby oil, or vegetable oil, dish detergent works as well to remove oil from cat fur as it does to clean birds after oil spills. Before you wet down your cat, put the detergent on his fur and massage it in well, rubbing the fur between your fingers. Do this for several minutes, then rinse your kitty with warm water until no more suds appear.

2. Chewing Gum

Need a way to get gum out of your cat’s hair? First, try covering the gum with vegetable oil and letting the oiled gum stand for about 15 minutes. This should cause the gum to slide off without damaging the fur. If that doesn’t work, try vinegar, which can make gum dissolve. Any type of vinegar will do, but I’d recommend white vinegar since it’s the cheapest and least likely to leave stains.

3. Glue

Did your kids just give your cat a fauxhawk, with craft glue? Fear not. The trick to removing glue from cat fur is olive oil and peanut butter, two tasty and nontoxic treats. Dip your fingers into a small amount of olive oil and rub it gently into your cat’s fur for at least 10 minutes. Then let the olive oil/glue mess sit another 10 minutes, comb as much of the stuff as you can, and then apply a small dab of peanut butter to any remaining glue. Work the peanut butter into the fur and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then remove the rest of that with dish soap, as above. (You can substitute canola oil for olive oil and margarine for peanut butter.)

4. Skunk

If you’re trying to deskunk your cat, dish soap can save the day here, too. Skunk spray is oil-based, so applying dish soap using the technique above will help to get rid of most of the stench. Then mix 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of the dish detergent, and rub the concoction into your cat’s fur, right down to the skin. Use a hand towel to wash your cat’s face. Even the awesomely nerdy dudes on Mythbusters say this peroxide mixture is the most effective deskunker — much more so than the old standbys of tomato juice or vinegar-water solution.

Have you tried any of these techniques? If so, how have they worked for you? Do you have any other effective methods for getting bizarre contaminants out of your cat’s fur? Let us know in the comments!

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