Skunk Spray: Cats

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What is skunk spray, and why do they spray?

Skunks can spray cats. Skunk sprays can happen year-round, but you’ll want to pay increased attention in February, when skunk activity picks up significantly because males are searching for a mate. Therefore, your should keep your cat indoors or limit their time outside. Skunks are nocturnal, so your pet is most at risk for skunk spray during the evening.

Can you rinse skunk spray off with water?

A popular myth is that skunk spray is water-based and therefore easy to rinse off.  It’s actually an oil produced by the skunk’s anal gland and contains sulfurous chemical called thiols. Skunk’s spray to defend themselves and can spray up to 15 feet. When your cat’s curiosity gets them a little too close, the skunk views them as a threat.

How do you know when your cat has been sprayed by a skunk?

The first thing you will notice is the smell, which will be very similar to rotten eggs. Second, they will tend to roll around, trying to remove the spray themselves.

What’s the best way to safely remove skunk spray from your cat?

One common myth is tomato juice or distilled vinegar will remove the smell. Neither really works. Your best solution is to buy and over-the-counter skunk combatant which you can purchase from our online pharmacy or make your own with a few household ingredients:

  • 4 cups hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap


Mix up the solution and wear gloves to wet the skunk-sprayed area first, then work your way through all sections. Let the solution sit for 5-7 minutes the rinse. You may need to repeat this process 2-3 times. Be careful not to get the hydrogen peroxide solution near their eyes, nose, or mouth. Never store solution. Peroxide may bleach (discolor) fur. Also, be aware that this solution releases oxygen, so it should be far away from flame, and prepared in a well-ventilated area.

Once you’ve removed the skunk spray, it’s time to wash with cat-specific shampoo. You should never use dog or human products, because cats are sensitive to the chemicals used in those products. Lather well and rinse thoroughly. Don’t be alarmed if you smell a slight skunky odor for a few weeks, or even months. Be patient, since this process will take time. Your cat and your noses will get through it!

If skunk spray gets in your cat’s mouth or nose or if you see signs of drooling, vomiting, nausea, sneezing, or an extreme skin or eye reaction, take your cat to the vet immediately or call 415-554-3030!

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