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Skunks & Cats: How to Keep Your Kitty Safe & Other FAQ

Last Updated on December 7, 2023 by Nicole Cosgrove

Skunks and cats are definitely not friends, despite the long-standing unrequited love affair between the Looney Tunes cartoon skunk Pepe le Pew and Penelope the cat. Here are some tips to protect your cat from skunks and some advice about how to clean the stink off your cat.

The 4 Ways to Keep Cats Safe From Skunks

1. Keep your cat indoors

This is a no-brainer. But cats can escape and some people do allow their cats to go outdoors, for better or for worse. If you have an enclosed outdoor area in your yard, your cat may encounter skunks there, too. Skunks usually move around at night, so if you do let your cats out, keep them in after dusk and before dawn.

2. Keep your yard clean

Skunks like to den in piles of brush, logs, lumber, or even cement rubble. If you clean your yard after construction of landscaping projects, you’ll make it a much less skunk-friendly place.

3. Remove access to areas under buildings

Skunks also set up housekeeping under porches and decks, mobile homes, elevated sheds, and even in holes under concrete slabs. Close off any holes a skunk can use as an access point. Chicken wire or hardware cloth mesh can be used to cover openings that cannot be easily sealed.

4. Remove pet food

Skunks are scavengers, and they will gladly eat pet food. If you must feed your cat outside, either place the food on a table or other elevated surface — skunks can’t climb and jump like cats can — or bring it indoors as soon as kitty has finished eating.

What do you do if your cat does get skunk-bombed? There are lots of folk remedies out there, most of which are useless. Don’t make an emergency run to the grocery store for 15 gallons of tomato juice or buy out the drugstore’s supply of douches, because those won’t do you any good. Do this instead:

1. Don’t get your pet wet yet

If you put water on your skunked cat’s fur, you’re going to make the odor a thousand times worse and spread the oily residue all over him.

2. Mix up a tried-and-true skunk odor-removal solution

Mix one teaspoon of degreasing dishwashing liquid with one cup of baking soda and one quart of three-percent strength hydrogen peroxide. All three of these ingredients can be found at the grocery store.

3. Rub the mixture in, then rinse

Wearing rubber gloves and clothes that aren’t precious to you, work the solution deep into your cat’s fur and over his skin. Be sure to avoid the eyes and ears. After five minutes, rinse the solution out of the fur. If needed, repeat the procedure once your cat is dry again. The solution is very volatile, so rinse any unused stuff down the drain.

If your cat has long hair, the odor may linger in his fur no matter how often you use the odor-removal solution, and you might need to break down and have his fur shaved. He’ll thank you, and hey, it’s just hair … it’ll grow back!

Has your cat ever gotten skunked? If so, what did you do to cut the odor? Share your stinky stories in the comments.

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About the Author

JaneA Kelley
JaneA Kelley

JaneA is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy.

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