Guess who won?
I didn't see the confrontation, but I sure smelled it as soon as I walked out to shut in chickens last night. A very strong, very musky, skunk odor. Mixed with the smell of silage (wind was apparently coming from the silage bunker of the neighbor's dairy farm last evening) and wood smoke, but the air was most definitely skunky.
After watching carefully all the way to the chicken house and back for the skunk who had let off the pungent aroma, I was relieved to return to the garage without running into any black-and-white striped critters. However, when I got to the sidewalk that runs from the driveway, along the back of the garage, and to the 'people door', I spotted the Yarn Thief vigorously scrubbing the side of her head and her shoulder against the cement. And I smelled skunk, stronger than ever.
With a sinking heart, I realized the cat had met a skunk, and had threatened it (she is an intrepid hunter) rather than back down and run as far and fast as possible. I also realized that she had gotten musk in her face, which was not a good situation. And I realized that I was going to have to give the Yarn Thief a bath.
Oh joy. Bathing a cat is never a fun endeavor. More so last night because I was the only one home. Which meant I would need to contain the cat with one hand, while sudsing and scrubbing and rinsing with the other. I really did not like my odds of making it through the deskunking of the cat without being shredded and/or bitten.
I tried to carefully pick up the Yarn Thief in order to bring her into the house so I could bathe her in the bathtub. But she wanted no part of that; she ran into the garage and hid. Annoyed, I decided I would first go into the house and gather cat bathing supplies, and then go back out in the garage to find her.
She had other ideas, dashing out of nowhere and through the door between the garage and the mudroom as soon as I opened it. Envisioning her rubbing her skunky self all over my living room couch and ruining the furniture, I bolted after her. In an instant the plan changed from prepping before capturing the cat, to capturing the cat at all costs and not letting go.
Thankfully she just wanted to scour her head against the floor in an attempt to rid her eyes and nose of the musk. All I had to do was approach her speaking calmly, and get her by the scruff of the neck. Then, hoping I wasn't about to ruin my clothes, I held her close to my chest, still talking calmly. Instead of heading upstairs to the bathtub with her, I put her in the kitchen sink. Luckily all the ingredients I needed for concocting skunk remover to wash her with were close enough to the sink that I could get them out, and mixed, without losing the cat.
According to Google (done on my phone, one handed, while clutching the skunky cat), I needed to mix about a quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 tsp dish soap. So I measuring and mixed into a bowl with one hand, and clutched the cat with the other. She would have watched me suspiciously, except both eyes were pretty much swollen shut at that point.
Carefully, I lowered her into the empty sink, and turned on the water. I was really expecting an explosion when water met cat, so I tightened my grip on the scruff of her neck. And I told her what a good cat she was, and how nasty skunks are--and to stay away from them!!--and that I was going to help her. Then I carefully caught water in my hand and washed her eyes the way you would do to a child. She didn't like it much, but she didn't bite or scratch me. After about six handfuls of water in each eye, I moved to the back of her head and began putting handfuls of the peroxide/soda/soap mixture on her fur and massaging it in. Scoop, rub, scoop, rub, talk soothingly, adjust my grip on her neck when she tried to jump out of the sink.
Then it was rinse her thoroughly using the sink sprayer, and repeat. After her body had been soaped, scrubbed, and rinsed twice, I washed her eyes again. At this point she was standing straight up on her hind legs, stiff as a board and I had a death grip on her scruff. But she wasn't biting or scratching, just trying to climb up my front and out of the sink. This position made her head tilt back, so I dared to put a little of the deskunking mix on her head, right between her ears. Then I lathered it up, and using the sprayer, rinsed it off like rinsing shampoo from a baby's head. Lather, rinse, repeat on her whole body and her head.
This process went on for a good twenty minutes until I took pity on my poor traumatized cat, gave her one more warm rinse, and gathered her into my arms. Yes, soaking wet. I was pretty wet by then anyway. Then we dripped across the kitchen and mudroom to the closet where I keep the old worn out towels that have been designated as rags. I grabbed a bunch and wrapped her in them, trying to sop the water out of her fur.
She clung to me, and I was glad to see that both eyes were now open and she no longer had slobber hanging from her chin. I hoped that meant I had washed all the musk out of her eyes and sinuses. Now the task was to get her dried before she got a chill. And to hope that I had successfully gotten rid of all the skunk odor.
Once I had gotten her wiped well with the towels, all she wanted to do was bathe herself, licking and licking to put her coat back in order. And once she was satisfied with her appearance, she climbed onto my lap and slept.
So, I guess she somewhat realizes that I was helping her rather than just being mean by holding her down in the sink and drenching her repeatedly. Today she is back to her normal self, even if she does smell faintly of skunk if you put your nose between her ears and sniff her head.
Hopefully in the future she won't stand her ground when she meets a skunk.