Can I Really Test My Cat’s Urine at Home?


Urinary issues are very common in cats, especially as they age. Changes in a cat’s urinary habits or symptoms like straining to urinate can indicate potentially serious health problems. As a caring cat owner, you want to monitor your feline companion closely for any signs of trouble. Testing your cat’s urine at home can provide an early warning of issues like infections, crystals, stones, or kidney disease.

At-home urine test kits allow cat owners to easily screen for common urinary problems. Simple dipstick tests check parameters like blood, protein, and pH levels, while sediment tests look for crystals or bacterial growth. Home testing has limitations and veterinary lab tests may still be needed, but it offers a convenient first step to monitor your cat’s health between vet visits.

This guide covers how to collect and test cat urine at home, interpret results, spot warning signs, and know when to seek veterinary care. Catching urinary problems early improves outcomes and enables prompt treatment when needed. With diligent monitoring and at-home testing, cat owners can help safeguard their pet’s urinary health.

Signs Your Cat May Have a Urinary Problem

There are several signs that may indicate your cat is having a urinary issue. These include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Crying out when urinating
  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • Blood in the urine

Straining while urinating is one of the most common signs of a urinary problem in cats. You may notice your cat crouching in the litter box for longer than usual and pushing hard to pass just a small amount of urine. Cats experiencing pain or discomfort when urinating may cry out or meow loudly.

Increased urinary frequency is another sign. Healthy cats typically urinate only a few times per day. If your cat is suddenly racing to the litter box every hour or is urinating outside the box, it could indicate an issue. Any presence of blood in your cat’s urine is also not normal and requires veterinary attention.

According to The Cat’s Meow Cat Clinic, other symptoms of urinary tract issues may include increased licking of the genital area, lack of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting. It’s important to monitor your cat’s litter box habits and be aware of any changes.

Common Feline Urinary Issues

There are several common urine and urinary tract issues seen in cats:

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD refers to a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the bladder and urethra. It can lead to symptoms like frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and urinating outside the litter box. FLUTD is often triggered by stress and can be managed through environmental changes, anti-anxiety medication, and prescription urinary foods.

Urinary Tract Infections

Bacteria like E. coli can sometimes enter the urinary tract and cause an infection, leading to symptoms like frequent urination, bloody urine, and foul-smelling urine. These are usually treated with antibiotics prescribed by a vet.

Crystals and Stones

Crystals form when certain urine minerals build up and clump together. This can irritate the bladder and urethra. Stones, also called uroliths or calculi, are larger mineral masses that can cause a blockage. Special diets are used to prevent crystals and stones.


Diabetic cats have extra glucose in their blood and urine, which promotes bacterial growth and increases UTIs. Managing diabetes can help reduce urinary issues.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease allows more toxins and minerals to build up in the blood, leading to increased crystals and stones. Managing kidney disease through diet and hydration helps prevent these secondary urinary issues.

When to See a Vet

If your cat is exhibiting signs of a potential urinary tract issue, it’s important to seek veterinary care right away if certain concerning symptoms arise. According to WebMD, you should take your cat to the vet immediately if their symptoms don’t improve within 24 hours of onset. Additionally, a complete inability to urinate is considered an emergency situation requiring urgent vet care.

As Blue Cross Vet Hospital advises, male cats in particular can suffer from a dangerous blockage that prevents them from urinating at all. If your male cat stops being able to urinate, seek emergency veterinary treatment without delay. General signs of illness, like lethargy, appetite loss, or vomiting, combined with urinary issues also warrant prompt vet attention.

Catching urinary problems early and getting proper treatment is crucial for your cat’s health and to avoid potentially serious complications. Don’t hesitate to contact your vet if your cat’s symptoms persist or seem to be getting worse rather than improving over the first 24 hours. Acting quickly can help get your cat back to feeling their best.

At-Home Urine Test Strips

One of the easiest ways to test your cat’s urine at home is by using specialized urinalysis test strips. These test strips are dip sticks that allow you to check your cat’s urine for abnormalities like blood, improper pH levels, excess protein, or crystals.

When dipped in a urine sample, the pads on the test strip will change color based on what’s detected in the urine. This allows you to quickly screen for common urinary problems.

At-home test strips typically check for the following:

  • Blood – The presence of blood in your cat’s urine could indicate bladder stones, urinary tract infection, kidney disease, trauma, or cancer.
  • pH – A pH that’s too acidic or alkaline can irritate the urinary tract and lead to inflammation or crystals. A healthy pH is typically between 6 and 7.
  • Protein – Excess protein in urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
  • Crystals – Struvite and calcium oxalate crystals can indicate a urinary blockage or the formation of bladder stones.

Keep in mind test strips provide only a basic screening – they don’t test for bacterial infections. A vet urinalysis using a microscope is needed to check for white blood cells, casts, bacteria, and catch any traces of crystals.

Collecting a Urine Sample

To collect a urine sample from your cat at home, you’ll need some basic supplies like a clean, non-absorbent plastic container or litter box liner to catch the urine. It’s best to try to collect a mid-stream sample rather than the first or last bit of urine. You may need to closely observe your cat’s bathroom habits and habits to identify when they are likely to urinate.

Once you’ve collected the urine, refrigerate the sample right away, ideally within 30 minutes. Refrigeration prevents bacterial growth in the sample which can affect test results. The sample should be analyzed within 24 hours for best accuracy. For longer storage, freeze the sample in an airtight container. Bring the sample to room temperature before testing.

According to, these tips can help you successfully collect a clean catch urine sample at home.

Interpreting Test Results

When interpreting at-home urine test results, it’s important to carefully compare the test strip color to the provided color chart. Note that the lighting in your home can alter the appearance of the test strip color. For the most accurate color match, take the test strip to a window with natural daylight or use a bright lamp when making comparisons.

Environmental factors can also cause slight color changes on test strips that may not indicate an actual problem. For example, highly acidic foods in your cat’s diet can produce a more acidic urine pH. Mild dehydration may result in more concentrated, darker colored urine. Always consider recent diet and lifestyle factors when interpreting test strip findings.

According to, “Testing for results using cloth or paper. Press the stick into the urine in the paper, at the bottom of the tray. If the urine has already soaked into the litter, dip the end of the stick into the litter.” Therefore, to get the most accurate at-home test results, collect a fresh urine sample before it contacts litter.

Limitations of At-Home Testing

While at-home urine test strips can detect some abnormalities, they have limitations compared to laboratory urinalysis performed by a veterinarian. Some key limitations of at-home urine testing for cats include:

May miss some problems – The basic urine test strips are limited in what they can detect. They check for basic factors like protein, blood, pH and glucose levels. However, they cannot identify specific conditions, infections or crystals that may be causing issues for your cat. A veterinary urinalysis can detect a broader range of abnormalities.

Can’t test for infections – At-home urine tests cannot detect bacterial infections or other urinary tract infections (UTIs) that may be causing symptoms for your cat. Only a veterinarian can run a urine culture to diagnose a UTI or other infection.

Less reliable results – While at-home test strips can provide some insight, the results may be less reliable than a lab urinalysis. Proper handling and accurate reading of the strips is required for best results. A veterinary lab analysis is more precise.

If your at-home urine test detects any warning signs, it is still recommended to follow up with your veterinarian for a more complete urinalysis. While useful for occasional monitoring, at-home testing should not replace regular veterinary care and lab work when your cat has symptoms of a urinary disorder.

When to Send Urine to a Lab

If your cat has recurrent UTIs, kidney or bladder stones, or other unexplained urinary issues, your veterinarian may recommend sending a urine sample to an outside laboratory for further analysis. Unlike at-home test strips, laboratory tests can identify the specific type of bacteria or crystals causing infection or stone formation.

Lab tests allow for a more complete urinalysis, including:

  • Bacterial culture to identify the organisms causing an infection
  • Antibiotic sensitivity testing to select the most effective medication
  • Identification of bladder or kidney stones
  • Detection of cancer cells
  • Measurement of urine protein levels associated with kidney disease

To collect a sterile sample for the lab, your vet will likely use a method called cystocentesis, inserting a needle directly into your cat’s bladder while she is sedated. This avoids contamination from bacteria normally present near the urethra. Proper handling and prompt delivery to the lab are crucial for accurate results.

Though more invasive than at-home testing, lab urinalysis provides vital information to diagnose the underlying cause and guide treatment when your cat has stubborn urinary problems.


In summary, at-home urine test strips can provide useful initial insight into potential urinary problems in cats. They allow cat owners to check for signs of infection, crystals, blood, and other abnormal urine contents. However, at-home testing has limitations. The strips may not always accurately detect diluted urine contents, and cannot differentiate between types of crystals or microorganisms causing infection.

Therefore, while at-home urine test strips serve as a helpful screening tool, they should not replace veterinary testing. If your cat is exhibiting signs of a urinary issue, or if at-home tests detect any abnormal results, it’s important to have a veterinarian examine your cat and analyze a urine sample in their laboratory. This will allow for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your feline companion.

At-home testing is most useful for monitoring cats already diagnosed with a urinary condition, as directed by your veterinarian. It allows tracking of treatment progress or potential UTIs between vet visits. But any new onset of symptoms, or test results indicating a potential problem, warrant a prompt veterinary consult. Overall, at-home urine testing helps cat owners be proactive about feline kidney health, but veterinary expertise is still crucial.

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