Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS) in Cats


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Painful bladder syndrome is a urinary condition that affects cats. It is a condition that causes symptoms of straining to urinate, crying when urinating, frequent urination, bloody urine and inappropriate urination (urinating outside of the litter box).

It is recognized as much by what it is as what it isn't. With this condition, the urinary symptoms are neither caused by stones nor are they caused by infections.

There are several terms that have been used in the past to describe recurrent urinary symptoms that were not caused by infection or stones. Some terms include Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), and Feline Interstitial Cystitis (FIC). Painful bladder syndrome appears to be another term to describe these vague and difficult signs.

Many specialists have researched this urinary problem in cats. Most recently they believe that a large percentage of cats with this problem have an underlying bladder inflammation or that the symptoms stem from a stress related response on the bladder. Essentially, they believe that some cats over-react to stress.

The same thing can happen to people. Some people seem oblivious to stress and only show it internally, some incessantly talk and complain, some have nervous breakdowns, and others seem to thrive on it. Cats seem to be the same. Some can hyper-react to simple things such as company, a new cat in the home or even seeing a new cat outside. And some of these cats can respond to their stress with urinary symptoms as described above.


Treatment for painful bladder syndrome evolves around the following factors:

  • Plenty of fresh clean water
  • Canned food (with some dry)
  • A large clean litter box with appealing litter
  • Minimal stress
  • Environmental enrichment opportunities
  • Plenty of Playtime
  • Positive reinforcement (no punishment based training)

    A couple articles that may also be helpful include:

    The Fine Art of Litter Box Care
    Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
    The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won't Use the Litter Box
    Cat Toys - Selecting the Right Toys for Your Cats Play Preference
    Selecting the Right Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat

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    About The Author

    debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

    Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.