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How Do I Tell When My Kitten Needs to Pee or Poop? 4 Important Signs

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By Misty Layne

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So, you just got a kitten—congratulations, you’re in for a world of fun! Along with that fun comes responsibility, though, such as making sure your kitten is fed and helping them figure out the litter box. To litter box train a kitten, you’ll first need to know when they’re telling you they need to pee or poop.

If this is the first kitten you’ve ever had, you may be unfamiliar with these signs and how to get a kitten to use a litter box. No worries, because we have you covered! Here you’ll find all the ways your kitten might be telling you they need to go to the bathroom, as well as some pointers for litter box training your new tiny friend.

The 4 Signs Your Kitten Needs to Pee or Poop

If you know what signs to look for, you’ll find there are several ways your kitten will tell you when it needs to pee or poop.

1. Squatting

The most obvious sign you’ll see is squatting. Cats squat to both pee and poop, though the positions will look slightly different. If your kitten is pooping, there will be more of a hunched back and raised tail, while peeing will be more of aiming the pelvis towards the ground. If you see your kitten assuming either of these positions outside the litter box, you have seconds before you have an accident on your hands.

bengal kitten
Image Credit: Irina_kukuts, Pixabay

2. Vocalizations

Another of the obvious signs your kitten needs to pee or poop is by verbally letting you know. If your pet can’t find the litter box or is somehow unable to get to it (or get into it), they may start up with excessive meowing to alert you. Trust us; your kitten doesn’t want to go to the bathroom in an open space such as your bedroom any more than you want them to—it would much rather go in a place that’s more private where they are able to bury waste.

3.  Scratching

You may also see your kitten scratching at the ground if they need to go to the bathroom. Cats are wired to bury their waste; in the wild, this helps to hide them from predators. And in the wild, cats will dig a hole to make it simpler to cover their waste after they go to the bathroom. If your kitten suddenly starts pawing at the ground, there’s a good chance it’s about to pee or poop, so get them to the litter box as soon as possible.

british car scratching tree
Image Credit: Alexa, Pixabay

4. Increased Activity

Finally, the less apparent signs your kitten may need to pee or poop are hyperactivity and restlessness. It may seem strange to us, but when cats feel discomforts, such as the urge to pee or poop, they can end up getting a bit hyperactive. They might get the zoomies or try to climb the walls (of course, this could just be them playing, so you’ll need to see if they’re exhibiting any of the other signs of needing the bathroom). They may also become restless due to the discomfort of needing to pee or poop. The result of this restlessness may be them suddenly dashing behind your favorite armchair to go to the bathroom.

How to Get a Kitten to Use the Litter Box

Luckily for us cat owners, kittens are pretty good about figuring out the litter box is where they need to go to the bathroom. You can help them along with this idea, though, by providing more than one litter box in the home and directing them to one if you see signs of them needing to pee or poop. You may also need to try out a few different types of litter to find one they like because if they hate the litter, they won’t use the box. Also, ensure the litter box is in a quieter area of the home, so your kitten will have privacy while using it.

If your kitten does have an accident outside the litter box, it’s best not to yell or have a negative reaction. For one, kittens that are very young don’t have full control over their bladders, so they may not be able to hold them until they get to the litter box. Adverse reactions such as yelling might even teach your kitten that they can go to the bathroom wherever they want. Instead, don’t react; simply clean up the mess with a non-ammonia cleaner that will also get rid of the smell, so the kitty won’t be tempted to go there again.

Kitten poop
Image Credit: Stefano Garau, Shutterstock

Another good way to help your kitten get used to the idea of a litter box is to follow a routine. If you take them to the litter box about 15 minutes after meals or drinking, they will typically need to pee or poop. Thus, taking them to the litter box after food or water will get them used to the idea of what the box is for.

Finally, if your kitten is 4 weeks or under, you may need to help them go to the bathroom, as kittens that young normally can’t go on their own. Typically, kittens are still with their mothers at that age, and mama cat will stimulate them to help them pee and poop. Super young kittens need to be manually stimulated using a lukewarm damp towel. Use gentle strokes to imitate their mother’s licking stimulus.


Kittens can and will let you know when they need to pee or poop; you just need to know what to look for. If your kitten is scratching around the ground, meowing excessively, acting restless or hyperactive, or is in the process of squatting to eliminate, you should redirect them to the litter box right away. But if an accident does happen, don’t get upset over it. Kittens sometimes can’t control their bladders, so accidents happen. Instead, clean up the mess and don’t react otherwise.

Your kitten should learn the purpose of the litter box rather quickly, but you can always encourage them to use it by making sure more than one litter box is placed within easy reach and picking litter they like. Just have a bit of patience, and soon you’ll find your kitten no longer having accidents!

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Featured Image Credit: Guillermo Rico, Unsplash

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