What is Painful Bladder Syndrome in Cats?

Our question this week was:

My vet says my cat has a condition called painful bladder syndrome. I could not find anything about it on the internet. Can you tell me about it?


Megan S.


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 problem is not caused by stones nor is it caused by an infection.

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 seems 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: