Getting cooking grease out of cat fur?
August 30, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

How can I get hamburger grease out of my cat's fur without hurting him?

My cat came home last night with something sticky and greasy all over his legs, belly, and face. It smelled like hamburger grease. I looked around and finally discovered that my neighbor had a large open tub of said grease (and ants) congealing on their side porch, near his favorite sleeping spot. My guess is he jumped in for a snack.

We tried filling the kitchen sink halfway with warm water, and using dish soap to cut the grease. But it didn't really have any effect, the grease is still all embedded into his fur.

Any more ideas? When I Google I get lots of instructions for degreasing cats, but it's really just removing natural oils from fur they are talking about.

I'm not looking for any advice on whether cats should be allowed outside, just suggestions about how to get him cleaned up.
posted by buildmyworld to Pets & Animals (20 answers total)
Shave him. Seriously, not joking, shave him. Some things don't come out of cat fur in any way amenable to you or the cat.
posted by boo_radley at 11:40 AM on August 30, 2007

No personal experience, but wasn't there a Dawn dish detergent commercial advertising how they used it to clean oil off of ducks after the Exxon Valdez?
posted by KAS at 11:41 AM on August 30, 2007

Well, after oil spills they use Dawn and a whole lot of slow, gentle elbow grease. You'll have to lather him and rub the fur between your fingers to actually get it off.

Or buy some air fresheners and let him take care of it kitty-style, which is what I would have to do if I wanted to keep my blood inside my body. I could probably get away with an occasional "petting" with paper towels to try to soak some of it off, but it would have to be bad enough to take them to the vet to be knocked out if I actually wanted them washed.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:44 AM on August 30, 2007

Try this degreasing shampoo. Call your local pet store or major chain and see if they sell it. It's not uncommon for outdoor kitties to get oil in their fur, even something potentially toxic like motor oil. I'd go that route before shaving your cat, which, all due respect, is hard to do at home without nicking your cat and may not be necessary in this instance.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2007

I've gotten both garlic butter and motor oil (at different times) off of one of our cats just using hot water and Dove soap (the kind for sensitive skin, too, so it's not that strong). He tends to cooperate--I think he'd rather be wet than filthy. Maybe you just need to soap him up again?
posted by hydropsyche at 11:47 AM on August 30, 2007

If your cat needs to be shaved, don't do it yourself. For your safety and his, go to a groomer
posted by hermitosis at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2007

Dawn, specifically. That stuff is amazing. I had a carwash side brush (cloth) whose hydraulic motor dumped three or four gallons of hyd. fluid before it was shut of - it was literally dripping with fluid. One quart of Dawn later, it didn't even leave streaks on cars.
posted by notsnot at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2007

Yes, Dawn is the product usually used after a crude oil spill. Washing each bird takes 3-4 hours though. Fun fact: better than 5 in 6 birds die (due to hypothermia and general stress) during the process.

If you do wash the cat, make certain that the water is lukewarm, ie that you don't feel a temperatuer change when you put your hand into it. If it feels warm, it's too hot. If it feels cool, it's (way) to cold. If you have a thermometer, you want it to be ~100F.

I think a groomer is your best bet.
posted by bonehead at 11:59 AM on August 30, 2007

Dawn was recommended by my awesome vet after my cat got into elevator grease. As bonehead says, hypothermia can be an issue. Standard practice is to cover a heating pad with a towel for the cat to warm up on while still wet (if your climate so dictates).
posted by cocoagirl at 12:02 PM on August 30, 2007

Oh, should mention: standard practice on animal cleaning lines is to do each wash step (usually 4-6) under thermal lamps. They have to be carefully positioned though so that you don't overheat as well. Setting a line up takes a lot of skill.
posted by bonehead at 12:11 PM on August 30, 2007

I tried Dawn already, but only until he was ready to rip my face off - he's semi-feral and no fun to wash.

I see some contradictory advice about water temperature. If it was my own hair I'd use the hottest water I could stand, to melt the grease, but Moe can't tell me if it's too hot so I don't want to risk it.

I think I'll try the recommended degreasing shampoo, and if it doesn't cut the grease call a groomer. Poor guy, they'll shave off his pants!

Thanks everyone, I'll let you know how it turns out.
posted by buildmyworld at 12:17 PM on August 30, 2007

I'll be the 99th to add the Dawn suggestion. My vet suggested it when our cat rolled in engine oil. It worked remarkably well, although his fur felt odd for some time afterwards.
posted by Lame_username at 12:19 PM on August 30, 2007

As long as its food oil, and provided he grooms himself like a normal cat, why not let him clean himself over time?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:23 PM on August 30, 2007

While you're at it....
posted by Espoo2 at 12:26 PM on August 30, 2007

I could see letting him clean himself over time, but only if you have a place you can safely shut him into (eg unfinished basement) that is cheeseburger-oil-proof. Otherwise, greasy sofa, greasy walls, etc await. Plus, who knows what kind of residues from the bbq etc are in that grease - might be stuff that he shouldn't eat.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:55 PM on August 30, 2007

Our cats take care of grease problems by rolling in dirt (which sticks to the grease and makes it cat-lickable) and then cleaning themselves normally. The oil is not harmful, so dust the cat with flour (say) and lock it in a room for a few hours.

If it were motor oil, you would best go the mild detergent and lots of spitting and cussing route.
posted by hexatron at 7:35 PM on August 30, 2007

I bet he'll wash himself off over the next few days. I'd leave it and let him do his thing.
posted by loiseau at 7:46 PM on August 30, 2007

Bi-Carb. It won't hurt him and it will sop up the oil. (Dust him down good then brush/wipe it off and repeat.) Then when you're washing him mix it into the soap 50/50. My boy is particularly grotty and I've found that good with him :) Great for oily grime and stink...
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:12 PM on August 30, 2007

Conclusion: By the time I got home from work he'd spread it all over himself, and licked a lot off. He had stiff little spikes all over him.

We tried a degreasing shampoo on him after that, which took of a lot of it and helped with the rancid grease smell. I prefer my cats not to smell like a fast food grease trap, especially since he's the one that likes to sit on my neck.

hexatron: My mother said to roll him in breadcrumbs, which is something like rolling in dirt, I guess. Though she was saying something about her big frying pan...
posted by buildmyworld at 2:40 PM on August 31, 2007

if you use dish soap, apply the soap to his fur and massage it in well, BEFORE you wet him. the soap will stick to the grease better if the grease isn't beaded over with water.

after doing this, rinse him really well, as his fur will be soapier after this method is used.
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2007

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