?Do cats get sprayed by skunks?

Sara Farell
Sara Farell

Skunks are well known for spraying their urine and feces to mark their territory. This behavior can be very irritating to cats, as the urine and feces can contain chemicals that are harmful to their skin and eyes. If your cat is regularly sprayed by a skunk, there are a few things you can do to help protect them. First, keep your cat indoors as much as possible to reduce the chances of them coming in contact with the skunk's urine and feces. If your cat must go outside, make sure they are kept in a well-ventilated area and keep a close eye on them at all times. If your cat is sprayed, immediately rinse their eyes and skin with cool water and apply a soothing ointment. If the spray has entered their lungs, administer CPR or call a veterinarian.

Skunks can make friendly, intelligent, and unique pets when born and raised in captivity; they can learn to be comfortable when handled by people and can be quite playful and cuddly.Skunks, which are native to North America, are known for their scent glands, which can spray foul-smelling chemicals at predators; however, captive-bred skunks typically have those glands surgically removed.This is a contentious procedure, as some believe it removes a necessary defense mechanism that a pet skunk would require if it ever got loose outside or was otherwise attacked. As a result, it's critical to keep your pet skunk indoors or closely supervised during any outdoor time.Housing a pet skunk can be difficult because skunks are curious animals that like to get into mischief, and feeding a pet skunk a balanced diet can be difficult because there are few formulated skunk foods available.Overall, caring for these animals will take a significant amount of time and expertise on your part.

Species Overview

Common Name: Skunk Skunk

Scientific Name: Mephitis mephitis Mephitis mephitis

Adult length: 20 to 31 inches; weight: up to 15 pounds 20 to 31 inches long; up to 15 pounds

Life expectancy in captivity: 10 to 15 years 10 to 15 years in captivity

Can You Keep a Skunk as a Pet?


If you want to have a pet skunk, one of the first things you should do is check the laws at the state and local levels where you live. Owning a domesticated skunk is not legal in every state, and even in states where it is legal, additional permits or permissions may be required.Currently, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming allow the possession of a pet skunk.


As with any pet, it's important to consider whether you have the time and energy to care for a pet skunk; they have a lot of care requirements and aren't suitable for first-time pet owners or those who don't want to devote a lot of time to their pets.

Skunk Temperament and Behavior

Skunks are not low-maintenance pets; in addition to feeding and cleaning up after your skunk, you should expect to spend several hours per day entertaining it. Some skunk personality traits, such as stubbornness and headstrongness, can make living with one difficult.Pet skunks, on the other hand, tend to be sociable and playful as they grow up interacting with people; they are active and curious, which means they will get into everything in your home.They can learn to open cabinets, drawers, and even the refrigerator; if towels, blankets, or clothing go missing, your skunk may have stolen them to make its bed softer.

Skunks are most active in the wild at dawn and dusk, but a pet skunk can learn to be on its owner's schedule; these animals require a lot of stimulation and many enjoy playing with dog or cat toys.They're also natural diggers and may dig into a carpet or scratch furniture if they don't have enough toys of their own. Skunks are social animals who enjoy being handled and playing with their human family members.They can also learn to coexist with other friendly pets in the house, such as a ferret or a gentle cat or dog.

Skunks use a variety of vocalizations to express their emotions, including hisses, chirps, and whines, but they're generally quiet animals that aren't prone to aggression when properly socialized, though they will bite if they feel threatened.Because rabies is transmitted through saliva and there is no vaccine specifically designed for domestic skunks, authorities may seize your pet skunk to monitor for rabies symptoms.After biting, some pet skunks have even been euthanized.

What You Should Know Before Adopting a Pet Skunk


It is best to keep a pet skunk indoors because it will lose its spraying defense against predators. Most people let their skunks roam their homes while they are present to monitor them.Some owners even designate entire rooms, such as a small bedroom, as "skunk playrooms," allowing you to keep most of your skunk's toys and bed in one room while restricting its access to parts of your home that are unsafe for it (and preventing it from getting into items you don't want damaged).

To keep your skunk safe while you're away, keep it in a large dog kennel; however, skunks don't tolerate being housed in a cage for long periods of time, so limit their time in the kennel to only a few hours.Furthermore, skunks, like cats and ferrets, can be trained to use a litter box, so make sure it always has access to it and plan to scoop out the litter daily.

To keep your skunk safe, make sure your home is escape-proof, which means keeping an eye on any open doors and windows.If your skunk escapes, it can travel hundreds of miles in a single day, and because skunks lack a homing instinct, it won't be able to find its way back home.You can, however, safely take your pet skunk outside on a leash and harness for exercise and enrichment.

Specific Substrate Needs

If you choose to keep your skunk in a kennel or pen for part of the day, you'll want to provide them with a soft and cushioned place to sleep, such as a small cat or dog bed, or simply a pile of blankets to curl up in.

What Do Skunks Eat and Drink?

Skunks are omnivores in the wild, eating almost anything they can get their hands on. As pets, young skunks should be fed several times a day, while adult skunks can be fed in the morning and evening.Simply place their meals in a bowl for them, and consult your veterinarian about the proper timing and amount of food for your specific animal.

There are a few pre-packaged, formulated diets for skunks, but you're more likely to find them online rather than at your local pet store.If you aren't using a formulated food, your skunk's diet should consist of 60 to 70% lean protein, such as cooked chicken, eggs, fish, or feeder insects, with the remainder being fresh, cooked, or thawed frozen vegetables.Avoid canned vegetables, which can contain an excessive amount of salt.

Nuts, cooked grains, a small amount of dog food, and plain yogurt can also be added to your skunked diet; however, fruit should only be given as a treat once a week.Avoid chocolate because it is toxic to pets, and try to feed your skunk foods high in calcium and taurine, or give it supplements that contain these nutrients.Finally, skunks require constant access to a dish of fresh water, even if some do not drink much; they get much of the water they require from the vegetables in their diet. Also, try to offer your skunk foods high in calcium and taurine, or give it supplements that provide these. Finally, skunks need access to a dish of fresh water at all times, though some don't drink a lot. They get much of the water they need from the vegetables in their diet.

The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

Common Health Problems

Be aware that finding a veterinarian who specializes in skunks can be difficult, so make sure you will be able to see one before getting a pet skunk. Plan on at least an annual wellness exam for your animal, but having someone to call in emergencies is also a good idea.

Skunks, like all pets, should be spayed or neutered as early as four months of age to prevent aggression, and it's also a common preventative measure pet owners can take to lower the risk of hormonal cancers.Skunks must be vaccinated against common dog and cat diseases, such as distemper, and dewormed at the same time, though this is often done at a younger age while the skunks are still with the breeder.Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on the best vaccination schedule for your pet. Removing the scent glands may be done at the same time, though this is often done at an even younger age while the skunks are still with the breeder. Skunks also need to be vaccinated against common dog and cat diseases, such as distemper, as well as dewormed. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend the correct course of vaccinations.

Skunks are prone to a variety of health issues, including metabolic bone disease, diabetes, dental disease, nutritional deficiencies, cardiac disease, and obesity. A proper diet can prevent or minimize many of these issues, so consult with your veterinarian on a regular basis about your pet's diet. A proper diet can prevent or minimize many of these problems, so regularly discuss your pet’s diet with your vet.


Skunks have moderate exercise needs, but their needs are often met simply by exploring their home environment. Skunks can be taken for walks or played with outside, but avoid taking them out in the early morning or late evening hours, as they can easily overheat.Skunks require mental exercise as well as physical exercise, so make sure they have plenty of toys to keep them entertained.


Skunks' grooming requirements are similar to those of a low-maintenance dog: brush your skunk at least once a week, working out any knots and working to get your skunk used to being handled.Brush your skunk's teeth at least every other week, and clean their ears and trim their nails on a regular basis.


Skunks shed their fur twice a year, in the fall and spring, and frequent brushing is especially important during this time because it helps your skunk shed their fur properly.


Bathe your skunk on a regular basis (once a month) or as needed if they get dirty while playing outside; the process is similar to bathing a dog—you can wash them in your tub, and skunks often enjoy swimming and splashing in the water during bath time.You can use a mild tear-free baby or dog shampoo to clean them.

Training Your Skunk

Spending time with your pet skunk is the most important aspect of "training" them; the more they bond with you, the more they will respect you and behave.When you have a pet skunk, you must be aggressive because they are very curious creatures who will explore every corner of your home. Invest in baby gates and child-proof cabinet locks to keep your skunk out of areas you don't want them in.

Potty Training 

Skunks, like cats, can be successfully trained to use a litter box to go to the bathroom. Skunks have an innate desire to use the bathroom in the corners of rooms, so place the litter box in the corner of the room to begin training them.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Keeping a Skunk as a Pet

Skunks can be surprisingly sweet and playful companions, making them a unique pet choice for owners who live in a state where they are permitted. However, before purchasing a pet skunk, consider your ability to properly care for one.A pet skunk requires similar care and time commitment to a dog or cat, so make sure you understand what you're getting into before purchasing one.

It's also important to consider what to do if something goes wrong while owning a pet skunk; in most states where skunk ownership is legal, a skunk bite must be reported regardless of your pet's rabies exposure.If your skunk bites someone or your veterinarian reports an incident, your pet may be taken away from you.

Purchasing Your Skunk

Purchase a pet skunk from a reputable breeder or rescue group, rather than the internet or a classified ad, as you are less likely to get accurate information about its origin and health history this way.Expect to pay between $150 and $500, plus spaying or neutering fees.

It's best to look for a young skunk, which will be easier to tame and adapt to your household. The best time to look for a young skunk is in the spring, but you may have to pay a deposit and be placed on a waiting list.You can also see if a rescue group has an older skunk whose personality matches yours, and try to interact with any animal before bringing it home.It should be alert and active, with red flags such as labored breathing, lethargy, and erythema of the skin around the eyes.

Pets Similar to the Skunk

If you're looking for similar pets, take a look at:

Otherwise, consider these other exotic animals for your next pet.


  • How long do pet skunks live?

    Skunks can live in captivity for up to 10 or even 15 years, which is a significantly longer lifespan than they have in the wild, where they typically live no longer than three years due to both natural predators and human-caused risks such as cars and traps.

  • Are skunks difficult to care for?

    Skunks require a lot of care and attention, but none of it is difficult; your biggest challenge will be keeping them out of mischief, but they'll reward you with affection and playfulness for years to come.

  • Do skunks fare better in their natural habitats than in captivity?

    Skunks live longer and enjoy a much more comfortable life in a domesticated environment than in the wild, where they are commonly regarded as pests and a nuisance due to their odor.However, skunks that have spent the majority of their lives in captivity should never be released into the wild because they lack natural defenses (such as scent) and cannot defend themselves against predators.

How do you remove skunk spray from a cat?

VINEGAR. In a plastic bottle (preferably one that you can squeeze), combine 2 parts water and 1 part apple cider vinegar.Wet coat and work one section at a time, beginning with the skunk-sprayed area, allowing the solution to sit for at least 5 minutes to fully enjoy the deodorizing properties of vinegar.

How long does a cat's skunk smell last?

If your cat or dog is sprayed by a skunk, doing nothing is NOT an option because the skunk smell can linger on your pet's fur for up to three weeks, during which time your pet will spread that awful skunk smell around your house... which can also last three weeks.up to three weeks. All the while, your pet will spread that awful skunk smell around your house… which can also last for three weeks.

Is skunk odor harmful to cats?

If you live in an area where skunks are common, it's a good idea to keep some on hand. If skunk spray gets in your cat's mouth or nose, you may notice drooling, vomiting, nausea, or sneezing.Skunk spray can also cause serious and acute anemia in cats in rare cases.If skunk spray gets in your cat's mouth or nose, you may also see such signs as drooling, vomiting, nausea, or sneezing. Skunk spray can also, in rarer cases, cause serious and acute anemia in cats.

How can I tell if my cat has been sprayed by a skunk?

If your cat was sprayed in the face, you may notice redness or swelling around the eyes, as well as temporary blindness.If the spray gets into your cat's mouth, he or she may drool or vomit.If your cat was sprayed in the face, you may notice redness or swelling around the eyes—even temporary blindness. And if spray got into the mouth, your cat may experience drooling or vomiting.

cats sprayed skunks

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