January 11, 2006

How to get a feline urine sample

I had an appointment with the vet on Saturday to have Newton-cat checked for diabetes. The vet agreed that it seemed likely...he was drinking and peeing in insane amounts, as well as eating a lot, yet he lost more than a kilo since his appointment last year. Which is good in a way since he's a big boy...23 pounds pre-weight loss. But also bad...they don't like to see such drastic weight loss. So I left the office with instructions on how to obtain a sample for them to test for sugars. Apparently the easiest way is to lock the cat in a room with food, lots of water and a box with non-absorbant materials for them to pee in. Then you syringe the liquid out (as long as he didn't poop as well, as that would contaminate the urine sample and you'd have to start over) into a clean container and take it to the vet. Knowing my cat, he'd just yowl and scream at the door until he's let out so he could scoot and pee in the litter box. I guess I should be happy about that...

Knowing that's what he'd likely do, I decided that maybe the best way would be to just catch it as he peed. Jon thought I was insane when I suggested it and wished me luck. I started by watching the wiley Newton's habits, starting with his morning nap. In the early morning he'll usually sleep an hour or two in the basement, then come upstairs and drink right away. Lately anyway. Then he'll wander to wherever I am, socializes with me and Iain for a while (he LOVES that kid...and Iain thinks he's hilarious), eats and drinks more and lays down on his window perch for a while. Then he'll be ready for a nap again, so he'll drink more, maybe eat a couple more bites then go downstairs for a pee before curling up in his basement chair.

Once I knew his schedule, I was confident that I could catch the pee. Jon still thought I was crazy. I dug out an old baby food jar to put it in for the trip to the vet. Thought it was the best leak proof option... I was going to catch the
sample with the jar, but decided that I didn't want my hand that close to his arse. So I decided to catch it in a rectangular plastic container instead and transfer it to the jar. Newts did his usual morning socializing and headed for the water bowl...I knew it was show time. Luckily Iain had just eaten (with Newts crowding in on my lap as well...) so he was happy for a good 15 minutes on his playmat. The cat wandered downstairs with me close behind. He was watching me closely so I went to the far end of the basement and watched. I figured if I waited until he was actually IN the box squatting before I approached him, he'd go and it would be fine. But if I scared him off, he'd just hold it and nap without peeing.

He continued to watch me for a minute then headed for the box. He sniffed the litter and started to squat. I bolted for him with the container in my hand and saw he had started to pee. I deftly got the container under the stream and collected the sample. His ears were back and I could tell he was a little uncomfortable with me being there...understandably so. I got enough (the vet said at least a tablespoon) and hightailed it upstairs to leave him in peace to finish his business.

I was so excited I was shaking...the exhilaration!! I had succeeded in getting a urine sample from my cat without locking him in a room, catheterizing or squeezing the crap out of him. ;) Jon was impressed with my new-found skill. As was the vet-tech when I delivered the jar of pee. I shrugged and said piece of cake, but my heart started racing just thinking about it! What a thrill!

So the results...he is indeed diabetic. The levels were as high as they could get, so we went right to insulin. I took him in last nite so the vet could show me how to do the injections. I practised with saline first and then gave him his first insulin injection. I was a little nervous about it, but he didn't
even flinch! The needle is so fine that he barely feels it. So I have to do two shots a day, approximately 12 hours apart. If after a week there is still no change in the drinking and peeing, we'll up it. The vet suspects that it will take a couple of weeks to get the dosage right. The good news is that I caught it very early and he is still quite healthy, so there is no huge rush to get the correct dosage immediately. If it was urgent, they would keep him at the vet and take daily blood samples to get the dosage right in the first week. Once he's regulated, I'm not sure if there's anything to do besides give the insulin. I've read that they should have at least daily urine tests, if not blood tests, but there was no mention of that yet.

My first shot without vet supervision was this morning. I was told the only thing to make sure is that he had either just eaten or was eating while I gave the shot so I could be sure he had some sugar in his system. Both cats wait patiently for their wet food morning and nite, so this morning I put the bowls down, waited until Newts was eating and stuck him. Easy! He kept eating without missing a beat...er, bite. So that's my exciting life. Cat pee and needles. ;)

Some pics of the big guy himself...he's such a sweetie. So good with the kids. He used to lay there and let Cael crawl all over him and I assume he will be the same way with Iain. :)


Anonymous Donna said...

Oh, poor Newton! He is a big boy. Maybe you've found you're new calling as a diabetic cat caretaker. Is the insulin $$$?

11/1/06 09:21  
Blogger Tanya said...

not at all! the vial i brought home was $6 and change. and it will last forever since he gets such a small amt each time. the syringes were actually more expensive!

speaking of caretaker...its gonna be crazy when we go on vacation now. instead of having someone feed and scoop every other day, we'll have to have the sitter in twice a day. that will add up, at $16 per visit. :(

11/1/06 09:48  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

You see? I told you he wouldn't feel it. :)

11/1/06 10:45  
Anonymous Amy said...

Wow, you are so in tune with your am - a- mals... good call! Hope he feels better!

12/1/06 21:26  
Anonymous Amy said...

Me again... Does anyone else think it's way too funny how the cat is bigger that Iain?? I love that!

12/1/06 22:57  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

You are very talented :) And I hope the diabetes can get managed ok.

13/1/06 10:38  

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