Cat in a Tuxedo? Or a Skunk?Published July 18, 2008
Last summer my neighbor Judy phoned me about her dog, Murphy, when he tried to befriend a pungent neighbor. Murphy got nailed by a skunk. We actually had a skunk momma bring her three babies onto our patio to visit. She’d burrowed under the garage floor, and we were pleased they’d vacated the premises before any of them felt the urge to—ahem—emote. Seren thought they were lovely black and white tuxedo kitties, and greeted them (through the glass window) with entreaties to come and play. And lately, we’ve and a singleton skunk baby come to visit. He’s about the size of a six-week-old kitten and too cute for words! Where there’s one, there must be others. Yikes! The Skunk Baby! Chemical compounds called thiols make up skunk musk. That’s the same material that stinks up decomposing meat and feces. Just imagine how poor Murphy felt at ground zero, and unable to escape the smell. Skunk musk is very oily and sticks to the fur like glue. That’s why it takes more than soap and elbow grease to get rid of the smell. Commercial cleaners like Skunk Kleen or Skunk Odor Eliminator are available from pet supply stores. The old standby, tomato juice, helps to neutralize the odor. But it needs to soak in the fur for at least 10-20 minutes, and can take several treatments. Tomato juice also tends to temporarily turn white fur pink or orange. The best de-skunk recipe was invented by chemist Paul Krebaum, who figured out how to transform the thiols into other compounds that don’t smell. His recipe churns out huge amounts of oxygen and that neutralizes the odor. The formula can’t be bottled for resale so isn’t commercially feasible to market. It will pop the lid off any container because of the gas that’s generated. If your pet has a close encounter of a stinky kind, mix up as much of the solution as you can use at one time. Don’t try to store it. Mix one quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, with ¼ cup of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and one teaspoon liquid soap—pet shampoo will work. Apply to the pet’s already wet coat while the mixture bubbles, and leave it on for three or four minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. You may need to apply the mixture a couple of times, before Fido returns to his formerly sweet-scented self. Click here to read another tale of a skunk encounter.
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