Purpose of Urine Sampling
There may be times that your vet asks for a sample of Kitty’s urine (eg Bam Bam’s ARF). It’s not mission impossible, but it’s no cakewalk either. You’ll need to out-manoeuvre all of kitty’s wiles and evasive actions and crush the rebellion in order to get a usable decent sample. The thing with getting a urine sample from Kitty is that it has to be as organic as you can make it. Forcing it won’t work because Kitty may just clamp up and wait out your patience. And he will too, especially if he’s a stubborn little demon like our Bamster Monster, the old coot!
In any case, first understand from the vet why a urine sample is needed. Peteducation.com has a good list here: Urinalysis: Testing a Urine Sample.
Next ask him how much he needs. Also check the time samples must reach the clinic (usually before 12pm) and if any day is good (some clinics don’t accept samples on weekends). Fresh samples are preferred but if you aren’t able to deliver it right off the stream, your hard-won sample can be kept for up to 24 hours in the fridge, probably secured in a clean sample container of course.
The vet should also supply a sterile container with a screw-on top for the sample and a syringe (purpose will be explained later). These should be free-of-charge. Don’t be shy to ask for an extra set, in case you botch the first try (any equipment used in a failed attempt should be discarded and not reused to avoid contamination).
Next, you need to plan your urine collection strategy.
Now, if you’ve been observant of Kitty’s toilet habits (as us minions advocate as part of your daily entertainment), you’ll already know when he does the tinkle: before food, after drinks, during the day, at ungodly hours, on the sly, brazenly… and so on. If you don’t, shame on you, you better start the spying.
Knowing when he “goes” is half the battle. Next you’ll need to set your trap/ambush.
Ways To Get It Done
Your vet will probably tell you to give Kitty the litter-box sans litter. Then when he’s urinating, you just use the syringe (yes, the one he gave you) to suck it up, squirt it into the sample container, screw on tightly and viola!
That… is the ideal. But reality is hardly ever ideal. Kitty may well be a stiffneck and refuse to use a litterless litter-box.
Faux Littered Litter-box
Ask your vet for a backup plan, and he will suggest tossing in straws, the drinking type, not the cow mastication type, in the litter-box. The idea is that Kitty’s urine, IF he deigns to cooperate, will be trapped by the straws. And all you have to do is empty their contents into the sample container. A bit icky I know, and you’d need to cut up the straws to maximise the catchment potential. If Kitty is fussy, you’d add more straws… you could end up cutting up quite a fair bit of straws and still get no results. Be warned.
Besides straws, you can consider using these other non-absorbant Faux Litter ideas
- gravel stones like the type you find in aquariums – make sure to sure small-sized ones that Kitty can easily shift to do his burying, last thing you need to dampen your success is to have to bring Kitty to a bonesetter for an injured paw. Wash the stones CLEAN, and ensure they’re not powdery to the touch, and they’re not porous. Once Kitty has finished, you just need to tip the box or use the syringe to get the precious liquid.
- cloth. Or more sensibly, rags. In strips. Again, ensure they’re CLEAN. Once Kitty does it, you can just wring the strips into the sample container.
- paper strips. Same operating principle as the cloth strips
If Kitty disapproves of the above 2 plans, your next resort is to go Au Naturel, as in use real litter in the litter-box. The twist is, you’ll need to be ready to swoop to the scoop, as it were, as soon as he gets into pee-stance.
“Scoop with what?”, you may ask. You can use the sample container directly, but it will be probably be wasted, especially if it is your first try. Instead, for the collection, try using a flat container, perhaps a disposable utensil fresh out of the packaging, like a plate, or large sauce dish.
As soon as Kitty assumes his position and it begin to flow, gently lift up his tail slightly and slide the collector under him. (like vets, most ref sites recommend collecting only the mid-stream pee, that is, don’t collect it all, leave out the beginning and end of the golden stream)
Another suggestion is to cover the litter with a plastic sheet and collect the urine off it.
However you manage the collection, the key is to be there when he does it, without having it contaminated by the litter.
In case of stubborn Kitty or Multi-cat households
You will need to isolate Kitty so that you get a pure sample from Kitty and not his housemates.
Also, if he is stubborn, isolating him and denying him ready access to the litter-box will increase your chances of getting a sample when he does go. (Of course, you should never deny access to a litter-box for too long. A few hours should do it.) But do remember to provide water – to speed the process.
The key is the timing. For example, if Kitty has a habit of going right after food, isolate him immediately after food. After a few hours, he wouldn’t care less if everyone watches him do his thing, just as long as he goes. This is where you can do it, however you choose to collect the sample.
Get The Vet To DO IT
If Kitty triumphs over you, then you’re down to your last resort. Pack him off to the vet where they’ll extract a sample by either catheter or bladder expression. Just make sure Kitty has a full bladder, and isn’t the kind to ‘let go’ en-route (or if you know already, plan for extracting the sample he lets out).
However, as any good vet will tell you, it is really preferable that you get the sample from Kitty. Whether by catheter or bladder expression, one potential side-effect would be the presence of blood in the extracted sample due to bleeding caused by the catherising or expression.
tec modus operandus
As a multi-cat household, we definitely isolate.
Because of our cats’ habits – urinating early in the morning or late at night or after meals – we isolate at night and collect samples in the morning. In simple steps:
- Place sample collecting utensil near litter-box. Ensure it is covered and will not be contaminated.
- Isolate slacker in room with water bowl at night, after dinner.
- Let out in morning, and stalk.
- When slacker loiters round litter-bin, sit nearby too, with collector ready.
- As soon as slacker gets in and assumes position, lift up tail and slide collector under.
- When done, extract collector immediately and pour into sample container provided by vet.
- Send to vet before 12.
It is not impossible to get a urine sample from Kitty. You just need a few basic tools, which you already possess: observation, patience, innovation, rapport. And a healthy dash of luck.
- Urinalysis: Testing a Urine Sample
- How do I trick my cat into peeing?
- Urine sample collection at home
(Created: 23 Aug 07)