Long distance pet care
June 1, 2009 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Cat pee question of the day: My cat is thousands of miles away from me, staying with my family due to circumstances beyond my control. They are OK with looking after him, except for that he pees and throws up everywhere.

My cat lives with my dad. My mom took him to the vet. The vet tried to get a pee sample by sticking a needle in and drawing some out, but couldn't locate the bladder with the needle.

The vet sent my mom home with instructions to put cellophane over the litterbox to collect some pee. It sounds simple but my dad is simply not going to do this (for Reasons that i can't control). Meanwhile, the peeing continues, and the vet says they can't diagnose anything without a pee sample, but we can't collect it, and neither can the vet.

Not knowing what else to do, they kind of gave up at this point. I'm very sad about the whole thing. If I can't have my cat with me, I'd at least like him to be well. And if he'd be better off with another family, we can't even find one for him until he's not peeing and throwing up everywhere. This has been going on since January.

Should I be looking for another vet for them to take him to, or should they go back to our original vet (who has been seeing Smeagol since he showed up at our door)? Is this a normal thing, that they are unable to extract a urine sample? Is trying to collect a sample at home the only way? Is he maybe acting out because I'm not around anymore, and if so, how would we even solve that?
posted by amethysts to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Try a different vet. Take him in after he has not peed for four hours. If that is not possible, see if the vet will admit your cat for the day so they can collect the sample.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:22 AM on June 1, 2009

I can't imagine that plastic wrap would possibly work for collecting a sample. No self-respecting cat would be fooled by cellophane over their litter.

Whenever I had to obtain a urine sample from one of our cats, the vet gave us a baggy of little plastic pellets similar to these to put in a (very) clean litterbox. The cat scratches them like litter, tinkles, and they don't absorb anything so it's easy to syringe up the liquid to bring the vet. One time I had to leave the cat at the vet overnight where they managed their own litterbox of plastic pellets because the cat wouldn't go at home, but in general the pellets work well. Ask your vet about them.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 8:28 AM on June 1, 2009

Whenever I've needed a pee sample from a litterbox, the vet sent me home with styrofoam packing pellets. They're water resistant enough that the urine doesn't get absorbed, and hence can be collected. And yet kitty can still dig around and feel like he's in a real litterbox.

If your vet is clueless, you can try this on your own.
posted by cgg at 8:50 AM on June 1, 2009

(Ooops -- I should have been more clear -- the pellets go into an otherwise empty and clean litterbox; they replace the litter entirely.)
posted by cgg at 8:52 AM on June 1, 2009

Is he maybe acting out because I'm not around anymore, and if so, how would we even solve that?

This is probably it. Cats get stressed out by big lifestyle changes and they communicate this with their bodily functions. Providing additional litterboxes may help, but unfortunately it may just take time for him to adjust.
posted by hermitosis at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2009

The vet should be able to keep the cat for the duration of a day & collect the urine at the office. I've had this happen with one of my male cats MANY times (b/c he pees in the car on the way to the office). Your cat might just be grumpy that you're not around, but he might also have a UTI, which is why the vet needs a sample.
posted by oh really at 8:59 AM on June 1, 2009

Oh, & as far as the excessive vomiting, if there's not fur in it a lot of the time, he may have the kitty equivalent of IBS -- one of my previous cats had this & it was generally controlled through steroid injections.
posted by oh really at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2009

Ask your vet if they will keep him for the day or overnight since your parents are unable to collect a urine sample. There are other ways to collect samples, but it's never exactly easy or tidy with cats. If you explain to your vet that your parents can't/won't collect the sample, I'm sure you can find a way for them to keep your kitty long enough to get the sample. You may have to pay an overnight boarding fee, but I'm not sure much else.

There are a lot of reasons your cat might be urinating inappropriately, especially if he is a male cat. It's also very possible it's behavioral. A urinalysis is really the best way to figure out whether he's sick or just acting out.
posted by tastybrains at 2:37 PM on June 1, 2009

Thanks for your help everyone. As a follow up and for anyone in the same situation, I decided to find another vet and happened upon one who has an ultrasound machine that they use to look at the bladder/urinary system and see what's going on, and it lets them extract the urine without needles so there's no messing around and they can immediately see if there's a problem. What a relief, such a difference from "i don't know what it is so it must be incurable, whatevs."
posted by amethysts at 7:03 AM on June 3, 2009

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