For owners, a cat’s urine likely doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than being an inconvenient and strong-smelling mess to clear up. However, for vets, a urine sample can provide a very important insight into your cat’s health. So chances are, you’ll be asked to collect and provide a sample at some point, especially if they are investigating their health. The problem is, it’s not entirely obvious how to best do so. Thankfully – we’re here to help. This is what you need to do.
So, how do you get a urine sample from a cat? To get a urine sample from a cat, you will need to keep them indoors and wait for them to use the litter tray. Special non-absorbent cat litter can help prevent the sample from becoming absorbed. As it accumulates on the surface, you can collect some in a pipette and transfer it to a vial or other suitable container.
Whether your cat is unwell or has had a history of urinary issues, collecting a urine sample is a relatively straightforward task once you know how to do so.
A small amount of effort on the part of the owner can yield vital information about how various organs within your cats’ body are functioning and if any chemical imbalances are present.
Plus, it’s a non-invasive and stress-free way to investigate possible underlying disease, so is a great starting point in the process of reaching a diagnosis.
Urine is formed as toxic, and waste products are filtered out of the blood by the kidneys.
There are certain compounds that we would expect to see in urine, such as urea, a by-product of protein metabolism.
However, the presence of other substances such as glucose, crystals, ketones, and large protein molecules can indicate disease, to name a few.
A urine sample can also provide vital information about your cats’ kidney and bladder health, and so is a key part of the diagnostic process your vets will use to determine why your cat is unwell.
So, let us find out exactly how to collect a sample in further detail!
How Do You Get A Urine Sample From A Cat At Home?
The ease of collecting a urine sample from your cat at home will depend on a few factors: whether your cat uses a litter tray indoors if you have multiple cats in the household and the type of cat litter that you use.
Before getting a sample, it’s important that you fill the tray with the right type of litter.
Normal cat litter breaks up very easily and is quick to absorb urine, ideal under normal circumstances.
However, when wanting to collect a sample, normal litter can cause contamination making urinalysis difficult, often leading to inaccurate results.
Instead, ask your vet for some non-absorbent or hydrophobic litter.
Or, you can get a collection kit from Amazon for a very affordable price:
- Non absorbing, Hydrophobic Cat Litter
- Unlike Other Products, The Urine Stays On Top!
- Easy, Painless, Non-Invasive and stress-free cat urine sample collection
- Do It Yourself, or Rather Let The Cat Do It!
- 100% Natural Non-toxic, Odorless and cats love it!
These often come in the form of small plastic beads or sand that is specifically designed not to absorb and interfere with the urine quality, allowing you to easily siphon it off with a pipette for collection.
Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect your cat’s litter tray before filling it with this special litter; bacteria present in the litter tray prior to the collection can skew the results.
For cats that usually go to the toilet outdoors, getting them to use a litter tray may seem difficult and, in some cases, may not impossible.
You cannot force your cat to urinate, and if they haven’t seen a litter tray before, they are just as likely to urinate on the new carpet as in the tray.
While it can be worth putting your cat in the same room as the litter tray for a few hours and hoping that they figure it out, this may be wishful thinking.
Depending on how vital the urine sample is to your vet, they may ask you to bring your cat into the clinic so that they can get the urine sample directly from your cats’ bladder – but more on this later.
Multi-cat households can further confuse the act of collecting a sample.
There isn’t much use in a sample that has been contributed to by multiple cats when only one of the cats needs veterinary investigation.
In this situation, it is best to temporarily separate your cats, putting the cat in question in a room with their own litter tray for a few hours.
This way, once your cat does his or her business, you can be sure that the sample is only from the cat that you need it from.
How Can I Get My Cat To Pee For A Urine Sample?
While you can’t force your cat to urinate, there are a few ways that you can make it more likely to happen. For the most part, it is a waiting game; your cat will only urinate when they feel the need to, and some can hold on all day.
Keeping your cat indoors increases the chances of success, as most cats will urinate outside if given a choice.
Always make sure there is plenty of fresh water around the house to keep your cat hydrated – if there’s nothing going in, then nothing will come out the other end!
If you think your cat can’t urinate or is straining unproductively, then take them to your local veterinarian straight away.
This could indicate urinary obstruction, a condition where sediment or crystals in the urethra prevent the outflow of urine.
This condition is more common in male cats and is considered an emergency as toxic substances accumulate in the blood, making them very unwell.
Common symptoms of urethral obstruction include straining to urinate, blood in any small amount of urine produced, increased vocalization, pain, and lethargy/depression.
Cats can be stubborn animals, and collecting a urine sample may not be easy, so don’t fret too much if you can’t get one.
How Does The Vet Get A Urine Sample From A Cat?
There are multiple techniques a vet can use to obtain a urine sample, all of which require your cat’s bladder to be already full. Techniques include gentle palpation, passing a urinary catheter up your cats’ urethra to collect urine and cystocentesis.
There may be times where your vet will need to collect a urine sample for themselves, whether that be because your cat won’t use the litter tray at home or because your vet requires a completely sterile urine sample.
They will usually use one of the three following techniques:
The first method is by manually expressing a cat’s bladder by gentle palpation.
Your vet will carefully feel for the bladder in your cat’s abdomen and slowly squeeze it, resulting in your cat urinating.
Typically, this is only suitable for very tolerant cats or for performing under sedation.
However, the downside of this method is that contamination of the urine sample can occur by bacteria on the skin where the urethra opens.
Another method is by passing a urinary catheter up your cats’ urethra and collecting a sample this way.
This must be done under sedation, and there is a risk of contamination by bacteria on the skin surrounding the urethral opening.
This technique is usually used for unblocking male cats by gently flushing the urethra with saline to try and dislodge any crystals or stones that are causing an obstruction.
The third and generally preferred method is called cystocentesis.
This involves pushing a needle directly into the bladder through the abdominal wall to aspirate a sample.
Cystocentesis is usually performed under sedation and is the gold standard technique for obtaining a urine sample.
The benefit of acquiring a sample in this manner is that it is sterile as it has been taken directly from the bladder before contamination can occur.
Usually, if bacteria are found in a urine sample, you can never be sure if there truly is an infection present or if the bacteria have come from contamination; cystocentesis allows vets to definitively say if bacteria present in the urine are significant.
How Much Urine Is Needed For A Cat Urine Sample?
In most cases, a few milliliters of urine will be sufficient; aim for at least 5mls, and that should be plenty.
Various tests are performed as part of urinalysis: A dipstick to measure the pH and levels of different substances within the urine, a specific gravity which measures how concentrated the urine is; and microscopy, which involves looking for bacteria or crystals under a microscope.
Vets can usually make a small amount of urine go a long way. If a larger sample is needed, then your vet will tell you.
How Long Is A Cat Urine Sample Good For?
The sooner the urine sample is analyzed, the more reliable the results will be. A urine sample shouldn’t be kept for any longer than 24 hours as, over time, bacteria can multiply within the sample, altering the pH and skewing the results.
Place the sample in a clean, airtight container and write your cat’s name and time of collection on the pot.
The sample should be taken to the vets as soon as possible, ideally within 2-3 hours.
If you can’t get it to the vets that soon, keeping it in the fridge at 4C (39F) can help preserve the quality of the sample by preventing bacteria from multiplying; storing urine at low temperatures for too long can cause crystals to form, however, which can further confuse the results.
Getting a sample of your cat’s urine can be tricky without the know-how.
But, analyzing urine is one of the best ways a vet can understand the health of your cat.
Thankfully, there are certain things you can do to make the process easier.
Not just for you. But for your cat.
Perhaps the standout strategy is using Hydrophobic Litter Sand.
The benefits of using this are multiple.
Besides, it is available on Amazon, cost-effective, easy to use, and hygienic – it essentially ensures you get a sample quickly, effortlessly, and timely.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.