How to get motor oil off a cat

Updated August 08, 2017

Surprisingly, motor oil in kitty fur is a relatively common problem that pet owners must deal with. After all, motor oil can be transferred to your cat's fur from the ground, from walking under a car or even from rubbing against an oily surface. Cleaning the oil off can be a little tricky, especially since most cats prefer to clean themselves and dread water. However, it's important that you clean the oil off your cat before it licks it off on its own.

Fill a sink with warm water. You can substitute a bathtub or a bucket, but a sink is probably the best place for you to work, since you'll be able to stand and manoeuvre easily.

Set up the soap, towel and treats around the sink. It's important to have everything ready before you begin, in order to minimise the time you have to confine your feline (who will likely become nervous or frightened).

Slowly place the cat in the sink. It will likely fight you, so provide a treat or food to distract it. You also may benefit by having another person to help you. Speak softly to the cat to calm it down.

Scoop water up with your hands and release it onto the cat. Make sure your cat's entire body is wet.

Squirt a few drops of dish soap in your palm and work up a lather. Gently massage the soap into your cat's fur. If necessary, use more soap.

Rinse your cat with water and dry it off with a towel. If you still notice motor oil on its fur, repeat the process once again.

Clip the hair on your cat if the oil still remains after washing. You can also take it to the groomer and request a full-body shave.


Any type of oil or gas is extremely toxic to your cat. It's imperative that you remove the oil from its fur immediately. If you suspect your cat has ingested some, take it to the veterinarian right away.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Cat treats
  • Towel
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About the Author

Wendy Rose Gould is a professional journalist who has contributed to "Glamour" magazine and the Huffington Post, among other publications. After internships at the "Indianapolis Business Journal," "Kiwanis International" and "NUVO Newsweekly," she earned BA degrees in journalism and philosophy from Franklin College in 2008. Gould specializes in lifestyle topics.