Urine tests in cats

Urine tests in cats are used to check their wee for signs of infection and other issues.  It’s performed frequently as it provides a lot of information. A urine sample can be easily collected without stressing your cat.

Also called urinalysis, it includes several tests, such as a dipstick, specific gravity, and laboratory tests. Urine can also be checked under the microscope to get even more information. It is a valuable test for both healthy and sick animals and should be included in any comprehensive evaluation of a cat’s health.

shutterstock 2310186345

What it’s for

Why do cats need urine tests?

A urine test can be used to:

  • Screen the urinary system
    • Vets can use this to identify urinary infections (UTI), bladder stones, blocked bladder problems and even cancer.
  • Check the kidney function
  • Look for signs of other organ disease
    • This test can be used to detect sugar in the urine of a diabetic cat. Other hormonal diseases can be detected by a change in urine concentration, such as thyroid disease.
Acute kidney disease in cats
Anatomy of the urinary tract system

When do cats need a urine test?

Your vet may recommend a urine test as part of screening lab work to assess your catʼs health, or if they are showing any of the following signs:

  • Weeing and/or drinking more than normal
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Weeing in inappropriate places
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting


What do urine tests measure?

Urine tests can measure different things depending on the type of test as well as the type of urine collection method.

The most common types of urine tests are:


Paper dye chemical test that indicates the presence of blood, glucose, protein and other important parameters present in the urine sample.

Urine Specific Gravity (USG)

Test to assess the concentration of the urine.

Urine sediment

Microscopic evaluation that can detect bacteria, crystals, cells and other solid material in the urine.

Urine culture and sensitivity

More accurate to detect an infection in the urine and determine the correct antibiotic to be used. The urine sample has to be sent to an external lab.

Protein to creatinine ratio

This test provides a more accurate measure of the amount of protein in the urine. This is important information when assessing the kidney function.


How it’s done

How to collect a urine sample in cats

Urine collection methods can influence the accuracy of detecting a bacterial infection.

Litter box/tray collection

A special non-absorbent litter is put in a clean tray and the sample is collected using a pipette or syringe.

You will need to empty and clean your cat’s litter box prior to placing the non-absorbent litter in it.

  • Advantages: non-invasive method, and you can collect the sample at home.
  • Disadvantages: not all cats are used to urinating in a tray or can be quite fussy about their litter. The sample may also be contaminated, making it less accurate in detecting urine infections.


A sterile needle and syringe are used to collect urine directly from the bladder.

  • Advantages: the urine is not contaminated, making it very useful for detecting bacterial infections.
  • Disadvantages: invasive method, although it doesn’t cause much discomfort can only be done in cooperative patients, unless they are sedated. Unlike other methods, it is useful only if the bladder is full.


A sterile thin rubber tube, called a catheter, is passed upwards from the genital passage into the bladder.

  • Advantages: this method allows multiple sterile urine sample collections in hospitalised patients.
  • Disadvantages: passing the tube is a procedure that requires anaesthesia, can cause irritation, and can carry bacteria up to the bladder especially if the catheter is left in for too many days.


How to collect a urine sample at home?

  • If you can’t get non-absorbent litter, you may try:
    • Simply cleaning and emptying the tray.
    • Placing small amounts of shredded paper/newspaper on the tray.
  • If your cat usually goes outside to wee, try keeping him indoors with a tray and non-absorbent litter.
  • Cats with urinary problems will sometimes urinate on the floor or in the bath/shower. You can collect a sample from these places and let your vet know where it came from.


How much does it cost to do a urine test?

Cost depends:

  • On the type of test and if any procedures to collect the urine sample are needed.
  • If the urine is run through the vet practice or sent to a special laboratory for testing.
  • If your cat suffers from a long-term condition, they may need regular blood tests for monitoring purposes and treatment adjustments.


Some urine collection methods may involve risks

  • Cystocentesis

In rare cases, it can lead to bladder rupture, urine leakage in the abdomen or accidental puncture of other organs.

To avoid these risks, your vet uses an ultrasound scanner as a guide, and in some cases, sedation may also be used to allow the cat to remain calm and still.

  • Catheterisation

Any procedure that involves anaesthesia has risks associated with it.

If the tube that is placed, called catheter, is left in for too long it can lead to urinary tract infections.


Are there any human health concerns to consider?

  • When collecting your cat’s urine at home you should wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • If you can’t take the fresh sample to your vet within 30 minutes we recommend you store it in the fridge and take it to them as soon as possible. Put the sample in a second container to avoid any contact with the contents of your fridge.

Recovery tips

What to expect from your cat when recovering from a cystocentesis

Cystocentesis is a safe procedure that usually does not involve any recovery time unless sedation is required.

When to worry

Things to watch out for if your cat had a cystocentesis

Rarely, a cystocentesis can cause urine leakage and inflammation inside the tummy, called peritonitis.

The main symptoms of peritonitis are:

  • Weakness and lack of energy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Painful tummy

Contact your vets if you see any of these signs.

Joii can help with:

  • Identifying signs that need a physical vet visit.
  • Advising on how to collect a urine sample at home and how to store it.
  • Advising on how to help your cat cope with repeated vet visits.
Consult a vet - £28

Consult your vet online. Anyday, anytime.

Consult a Joii vet online for £28. Or free if you’re insured with one of our partners.

Developed by vets 🩺

QR code to app

How to get an

Join a practice

*It's free*

Download the app to register and become a member of Joii vets. In only a few taps you will have access to digital vet care 24/7 as well as a vet practice

Download the app

We’re writing as quick as we can

This article is currently being written by one of our expert vets. Check back soon.