Given all my cats and the various health issues that some of them have, I have had to collect urine from a cat on numerous occasions. This is the story of my latest adventure with my cat Malteser.
Background on Malteser
Malteser is about nine years old. He was dumped on my doorstep at six weeks old, along with his sister Lucy and his brother Giacomo. Of course we took them in and added them to our brood.
Malt was healthy up until early last year when he suddenly got sick with a urinary blockage. He nearly died but luckily we pulled him through, with the help of our incredible vet. I wrote about the whole episode in my blog ‘Could Your Cat Suffer A Urinary Blockage?‘.
Then, later in the year, Malt was diagnosed with asthma. That was a whole other situation which now requires daily medication and the use of an asthma inhaler. Read all about how to cope with a cat with asthma here.
In my last blog, I looked at the latest developments with Malt given that he had now developed a urinary infection.
Today was the day for a follow up visit to the vet, which also required a urine sample be taken with us.
How Do You Collect Urine From A Cat?
There are five ways I am aware of that you can collect urine from a cat.
- The vet can express the bladder to produce urine. Actually some cat owners have to do this at home if they have an incontinent cat but they need to be shown how to do it correctly. This is not a method I am familiar with.
- Catch the urine as the cat pees, known as mid-stream free flow. There are so many problems with this as an idea, mainly around the practicality of doing it. I tried it once and never again! The cat is unlikely to say ‘hey Mom I am going to pee if you want to come catch it?’. The changes of not getting covered in urine when you put a utensil under the cat to catch it are not good. That is if you are lucky to be there at the right moment to even attempt it. Also it has to be in the middle of the flow so it has to be timed correctly. There is also a risk of contamination. Did I say I tried it once and never again?
- The vet can use a sterile needle and syringe to collect urine from the cat’s bladder. This is called Cystocentesis. This is needless to say (no pun intended) an invasive method and requires the cat to hold still, meaning it is sometimes done under sedation. Not a good idea with a cat with asthma, or for any cat to be sedated unnecessarily if there is an alternative. Our old cat Bluebottle was sedated for a sample to be collected – she refused to comply with all other alternatives. Unfortunately the sedation triggered a form of dementia. This has left me reluctant to see sedation as anything other than a last resort.
- Again at the veterinary clinic, the vet can use a catheter to draw urine from the bladder. In my blog about the urinary blockage mentioned above, this was how the vet cleared the blockage as an emergency when Malt’s bladder was at bursting point.
- Use the litter box method I explain below and for which I have considerable experience. Note that this also has the danger of contamination of the sample so ensuring everything is sterilized is crucial.
Collect Urine From A Cat Using The Litter Box Method
This is the method I use to collect urine from my cats when a general sample is required.
Isolate The Cat From Others In The Household
It is important if you have several cats as I do you need to take care to isolate the cat you need the sample from. Pick a room with a door so the cat can be shut in there overnight.
Choose A Non-absorbent Litter Substitute
Take one clean litter box, prop one end up slightly so any liquid will run to the other end. Put in a handful of dried brown lentils at the other end to encourage the cat to dig and use the box. The lentils have to be the really dry kind (that would take a lot of soaking to use in cooking). Alternatively you can use dried white beans. Cats like to dig in their box so the box can’t be left empty, they need something to get them going! But don’t overdo the amount, just enough to give them something to scratch.
There are alternative non-absorbent plastic litters that you can use which you can wash and re-use. But given our endeavors to use less plastic this is not an option I favor. Particularly as the lentils work!
Get The Cat Involved LOL
Place a bowl of fresh water in the room (I don’t leave food). Place the
victim cat in the room and close the door fast so it can’t escape (in our case Malteser usually tries to turn straight round and run back out). Ignore the pitiful cries for the cat to be let out as you need that urine sample! Then you spend the next few hours hoping that the cat will a) pee and b) use the litter box to pee (not always the same thing).
I usually do this overnight. Malteser is a creature of habit and usually uses the tray at first light. That means no long lay in bed for me, straight into the room (trying not to trip over the cat as he runs to the kitchen for food). If successful, use a sterilized syringe to collect the urine and put it in a sterilized container for the vet. Keep it in the refrigerator until you are actually going to the vet clinic. I try and minimize the time by taking Malteser in first thing when the clinic opens.
So What Happened With Malteser?
Malt and I headed off to the vet, me clutching the urine sample. This time no infection was present (confirmed by an ultrasound) but the results suggest his kidneys are struggling a little. I have to take another urine sample in to the vet in about a month to have another check. Malt will be pleased to know he doesn’t have to go with me that time. We are now discussing whether he may need to go on a special diet for renal support. But that decision will be taken after the next urine sample is analysed. Watch this space!
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound, an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!