Collecting a Cat’s Urine Sample

Picture of a spotted cat

Collecting a urine sample from your feline friend certainly looks like a challenge, but it might actually be easier than you expect.

In today’s article, we’re giving you some tips on collecting your cat’s urine so that you can take it to the vet clinic to have it examined. We’ll also add some information on what a cat’s urine sample can reveal.

Collecting a cat’s urine

The easiest method that we can recommend is to collect your feline friend’s urine right from the litter box. As you probably know, many cats will refuse to ‘go’ if they don’t have access to a litter box, no matter how full their bladder might be. Moreover, it’s unhealthy to restrain from peeing.

The most difficult task of the process is actually getting your cat to drink water. If your pet doesn’t usually drink water (some cats don’t drink at all), you can simply feed her cat food pouches instead of dry food, at least for a couple of days until she gets used to the ‘program’.

Collecting the urine right from your own cat’s litter box is the best idea, even though you might think that its size can make it difficult for you to tend to the task. The fact is that your cat’s litter box is already marked with her smell, so she isn’t going to feel uncomfortable when using it. She’ll just go about her business as usual.

The next issue is whether you should use litter or not. Ideally, you should not use any litter, not that the urine could get contaminated from it, but that most varieties are absorbent, so you aren’t going to have enough pee to collect. However, many cats don’t want to tend to their business if they have no litter whatsoever in their boxes, so you might still have to add a very small amount.

What to use

Your vet is likely to give you a plastic container, but instead of having to tip the litter box over and get the urine into it, you can use a syringe, collect the sample, and then pour it into the container or bring it to the vet clinic as is.

Don’t wait too long

Cat urine crystalizes when it’s left outside for too long, so you have to take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible. This can be challenging, especially if you live far from the vet clinic, so it can take you several hours until you get it to analysis.

If you really can’t bring it to the clinic in less than an hour, you should refrigerate it or keep it in a cool place (a coolbox that you keep in your car and fill up with several bags of ice can be handy).

The vet can also collect the urine sample at the clinic, but this can usually happen in cases where the cat is blocked, or there is a sufficient amount in her bladder. This method can be significantly more painful for your pet, so it’s better to collect the sample from the litter box instead.

Another method

If you find it more convenient to get your cat to use the litter box right before your appointment at the vet clinic, you can isolate your cat in another room with her food and water, but without any access to the ‘toilet’.

This will make your cat hold it in until she does have access to her litter box. We would recommend against using this method, however, especially if a urinary tract infection or bladder stones are the diagnoses suspected by your veterinarian.

Even if your cat doesn’t have an infection, she can develop one if you decide to use this technique. Urine is very rich in bacteria, and it should never sit too long inside the bladder as it gets concentrated, and this promotes bacterial growth. So, for example, if your cat is suspected of having diabetes and she drinks a lot of water, she might hold it in until she can pee in the litter box but also develop an infection besides her primary condition.

Also, it’s less stressful to collect the urine sample at home and then bring it in for analysis at the clinic rather than having to take your cat to the vet again. Many cats become very stressed during their vet visits, so try to minimize this risk as much as possible.

Why is a urine sample necessary?

Many conditions can now be diagnosed using blood tests, so collecting a urine sample might seem completely unnecessary. But sometimes, collecting a blood sample from a cat can be just as difficult, and if it doesn’t reveal the diagnosis that the vet suspects, a urine sample is simply a very useful additional test.

On top of that, some conditions actually call for urinalysis. Some examples include urinary tract infections, bladder stones (and their specific types), and even diabetes.

In urinary tract infections, it’s impossible to know what pathogen is at the root of the problem in the absence of a urine sample. The vet will perform a urinalysis and then recommend an antibiogram so that they find out the specific kind of antibiotic that works for your cat’s urinary tract infection.

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Cristina Vulpe PhD

Cristina Vulpe PhD

With a PhD in Veterinary Oncology, Dr. Cristina Vulpe loves researching and writing about the things that she’s passionate about. These range from animal nutrition and welfare to pet behavior, infectious diseases, and parasitology. In her spare time, she’s always in the company of her cat and a good book.

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