|Harry doesn't have cystitis: he's just looking for a home|
Feline cystitis, or to give it its more correct name: Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is frightening to owners because any unexplained bleeding is scary.
It can ultimately be a killer in male cats because there is a risk that it will cause what's known as a blocked bladder — when the cat cannot pass urine at all and strains so much that he may rupture his bladder or build up urinary toxins to a point which causes death.
In female cats urinary tract disease is less of an emergency but it should still be treated by a vet as soon as possible.
In both sexes, low-level disease may cause the cat apparently to lose house-training (because he or she comes to associate the litter box with the pain of unproductive straining to pass urine) and cause the owner react harshly and so increase the stress which makes the condition worse.
Today's early morning call from an owner whose female cat was passing small trickles of urine stained with blood was fairly non-worrying (although it would have been better all round if she'd kept up her registration so that she could have seen our out of hours vets today). As she wasn't acutely ill and being female was at low risk of blocking, she could reasonably be asked to wait until our normal clinic session on Tuesday morning.
If she'd been a male with a blockage the story might have been much less happy. Surgical un-blocking can cost up to £600 at a private vet and by the time an owner realises there is a problem a male cat can be in terrible pain, to the point that waiting until our next clinic session would be inhumane.