When I set up an appointment for Hakeem Wallace, my best furry buddy, to visit the vet, they asked if I could possibly collect a urine sample to bring in. Good question, I thought to myself, can a person collect a urine sample from a cat? How on earth?
Hakeem Wallace has never been much of a water drinker, at least not from his bowl. In his younger years he spent the better part of his days in the tub, drinking water straight from the faucet. Because of that I never really knew how much water he consumed on a daily basis. But he was healthy and young and I wasn't really worried about it. Then as he got older and fatter I switched him over to wet food at the veterinarian's suggestion, for the higher protein content that would help him drop pounds. It worked, but it also provided him with the moisture that his body needed so he really didn't drink that much noticeable water still. After the recent surgical assault on his mouth that left him with three fewer teeth than he began with, I thought I'd reintroduce dry food to ensure that he was using his teeth to crush the crunchy pellets. So now, at the age of thirteen, he is drinking water all of the time. Maybe it's nothing to worry about, just a response to the dry food, but with an older, larger animal you don't fool around and wait to find out. You have him checked out to make sure his kidneys are functioning properly and he hasn't developed diabetes. This is where the whole heretofore preposterous notion of collecting a cat urine sample came to life.
The vet tech told me over the phone that sometimes if you clean the litter box out completely, wash it up and everything, the cat will still relieve himself in it. I did not believe this for one second and haven't talked to a cat owner yet who believes it either. Cats, unless they're sick or angry, don't like to pee without benefit of some sort of matter they can cover their output with. This is a lovely topic, isn't it? Anyway, I did the real suffering, you can survive the retelling. The vet told me if I wasn't able to collect a sample, they could do it, but it would be unpleasant for the feline. This is all I needed to know. I consulted my friend Google who let me know that sometimes plastic straws will do the trick. If you cut up a bunch of plastic straws (two boxes of Food Club brand, in my case) and line the clean litter box with them as if it were sand, that might just be enough for the cat to accept and do his duty. And so I cleaned up his old maroon litter box, which still has its old original label that proclaims it to be Super-Giant in four languages. If there were a bigger size, like Super Duper Extra Ginormous, I would buy it, but Hakeem's is the largest I've ever seen, and he just fits. Then I lined the bottom with a layer of cut up flexible straws and put it back in its regular spot. I really didn't have high hopes, but sure enough, Hakeem got up off the couch for the first time in hours and had a bite to eat and some water, then walked over to the box and did exactly what he needed to do. He didn't seem to mind walking on the straws until he had to jump out of the box. I think they were slippery and he didn't care for that. But he did what he had to, I poured the urine out of his box, unfettered by absorbent litter, and collected it in a small Gladware container. I'm not sure this is what the fine folks at Glad had in mind for their fine products, but too bad. I wasn't going to use a reusable container!
So now it's all over but the shrieking. Specifically, Hakeem's feline shrieking when he gets to the vet's office tonight and smells all those awful dogs and cats and hears them barking and meowing. It's really his worst nightmare. So I guess, today at least, he and I are even.