Introduction: Urinary catheterization is a procedure widely used in the clinic, which benefits the patient in several situations. Research related to the long-term urinary catheter has focused on its possible complications and little on subjectivities. Goal: To understand the patient's perception of long-term urinary catheter use. Method: A qualitative, descriptive study carried out with 17 adult patients using long-term urinary catheters, treated at the outpatient clinic of a university hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A semi-structured interview was applied, from November 2020 to March 2021, and thematic content analysis. Results: Most patients reported difficulties at the beginning, especially in modified physiological issues, self-esteem, self-image, sex, sexuality, work and social life. But gradually they can adapt to the new condition, which in some cases can be lifelong. The family and professional care, especially on the part of the nurse in the regular consultations for the exchange of the catheter, proved to be an important support network and fundamental structure in the adaptation to the use of the catheter. The nurse is essential in this context, being the professional who has the most opportunities to establish bonds and encourage self-care. Conclusions: The patients' perceptions were related to the view of the catheter as a foreign body, generator of discomfort and deprivation, but also to the notion of relief from suffering and comfort. It is essential to pay attention to these different perceptions, to take care with sensitivity, in an integral and individualized way.