Measuring urine specific gravity (USG) is an important component of urine analysis as it evaluates renal concentrating capability. The objective of this study was to quantify the difference in USG values between a hand-held optical analogue refractometer and a cat-specific digital instrument. Urine samples from 55 cats were assessed. There was a statistically significant difference between these two refractometers (P <0.001), with the optical refractometer (mean USG = 1.031) consistently reading higher than the digital refractometer (mean USG = 1.027). Results for a random subset of the samples (n = 10) were compared with urine osmolality and both the optical and digital instruments demonstrated excellent correlation. While an accurate USG reading is important, it is unlikely that the statistical significance between the two instruments is clinically significant and, therefore, unlikely to result in a change in patient evaluation or treatment plans. While both the digital and optimal refractometers are highly correlated to the urine osmolality, making both devices valid for assessment of USG in clinical practice, this digital device is easier to read and eliminates the variability of subjective interpretation. (C) 2010 ISFM and AAFP. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.