Cats tend to be private about their bathroom habits. Most want to use the bathroom in privacy, without you even knowing when they go. However, there are many reasons your cat may communicate with you when they are using the litterbox. 

Why does my cat meow when using the litter box?

If your cat starts to meow when using the litterbox, it’s natural to be a bit concerned. Essentially, the two reasons your cat will meow when using their litter box. These are pain and behavioral reasons. 

Warning Predators

When cats use the bathroom, they are in a very vulnerable position. Normally, they can quickly run away from predators. When they are pottying, they are unable to move. This makes them susceptible to an attack. 

Some cats will meow when using the litter box as a way to scare away any predators. Of course, your cat isn’t in danger inside your home. However, the instinct remains. Even though there’s no danger, your cat may still meow out of instinct. It’s hardwired into their brain as a way to survive. 

Uti

Humans aren’t the only animals that can get a uti. In fact, most animals can develop a urinary tract infection. If you’ve had a uti you probably experienced pain when urinating. You may have also experienced difficulty urinating and urinating more often. You may have even found yourself sprinting to the bathroom because it was difficult to control your urination. 

Your cat can experience these same symptoms. If they have a uti, they will likely meow in pain when peeing. They may also meow before or after using the litterbox. They will likely urinate more often, but smaller amounts. They may also have accidents, because their bladder is more difficult to control when they have a uti. 

Kidney or Bladder Stones

Kidney or bladder stones can be quite painful for your cat. It will cause pain when they urinate, which can cause them to meow loudly. They may also have pain when they poop, because pooping puts pressure on the urethra. 

Other signs of kidney or bladder stones are similar to those of a UTI. These include frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and peeing outside the litter  box. 

Male cats can also develop a urinary obstruction. In addition to the symptoms of bladder stones, a cat with a urinary obstruction will often have vomiting and lethargy. The obstruction can be fatal if not treated, because toxins build up in the system. 

Stones and bladder infections often go hand in hand. Some stones are caused by a bladder infection. In other cases, the stones cause chronic infections. It is possible to have one without the other, but chronic uti’s can be a warning sign of bladder stones. 

Cystitis

Cystitis is a blanket term given to diseases of the lower urinary tract. When the cause can’t be identified, it’s known as idiopathic cystitis. Symptoms include bladder inflammation, difficulty urinating, painful urination, peeing outside the litterbox, and frequent licking of the genitals. 

Swollen Anal Glands

Cats have anal sacs on either side of their rectum. These sacs contain a foul smelling fluid. Cats use this fluid as their calling card. It provides valuable information to other cats, including age,health, and even their diet. 

When a cat poops, the anal sacs are squeezed. The poop is coated with the fluid, giving an extra layer of information to the poop. 

When the anal glands aren’t expressed, they can become plugged. The fluid can’t be flushed out, and pressure builds. This can cause pain, particularly when the cat is pooping. When they poop, the sacs are squeezed, creating even more pressure.

The anal glands become swollen and painful. The treatment for swollen anal glands is fairly simple, they simply need to be expressed. It can be done at home, but you may be more comfortable letting your vet perform the procedure. Other signs your cat needs their anal glands expressed are frequent licking of the area and dragging their butt on the ground. 

Anal Sac Disease

Swollen anal glands are common and not a major cause for concern. However, swollen glands can lead to anal sac disease. One of the most severe problems with the anal sacs are infection. Bacteria present in the feces can travel up to the anal sacs. Normally, the fluid and bacteria are flushed out during pooping. However, if the glands are clogged, the bacteria can remain.

This causes infection. An infected anal sac will become hot and inflamed, causing severe pain. The pain will be at its worst when your cat is pooping, or immediately after. It’s typical for a cat with infected anal glands to appear to be in pain at all times, and in severe pain when they poop.

If it’s not treated, the glands can rupture. This can require surgery to repair, and creates a risk of infection in other areas. 

Constipation

We’ve all been there. You desperately need to poop. You strain. You wait. You hope. Perhaps you even pray. Constipation can make using the bathroom very uncomfortable. 

To make matters worse, if you do manage to poop, it can be very painful. Constipation is often caused by hard dry stool, which is painful when it passes through the anus. 

If you notice your cat straining in their litterbox, they may be constipated. You may also notice dry or hard stools, or less frequent stools. The pain of constipation can cause them to meow in pain as they try to get things moving. 

Why does my cat meow before using the litter box?

If your cat meows before they go, it could be pain or an issue with the litterbox itself. 

Vulnerability

Some cats don’t want anyone near them when they poop. Others want their owner to stand guard. If your cat meows before using the litterbox and then looks at you expectantly, they may be requesting your presence for protection. 

This can be due to instinct. It can also occur if you have multiple animals in the house. 

Old Age or Disorientation

It’s common for cats to experience cognitive decline in old age. Your cat could be meowing out of confusion, or because they forgot what they were doing. If your cat is a senior or you notice other odd behaviors, this could be the culprit. 

Litterbox Issues

Cats tend to be finicky about their bathroom habits, and some are picker than others. If teh litterbox is dirty, your cat may be asking you to clean it before they use it. You wouldn’t want to use a dirty toilet. Neither does your cat. 

It’s also possible that the location of the litterbox is the issue. Cats prefer privacy, so if it’s in a high traffic area, they may be protesting. They also want the litterbox far away from their food and water. After all, you wouldn’t eat your meals in the bathroom. 

Lastly, they may dislike the tray or the litter itself. If your cat began meowing after you made a change to their litter or the tray, this is likely the issue. The sides of the box may be too high. They may not like feel or smell of a new litter. 

Why does my cat meow after using the litter box?

Cats can have several reasons for meowing after they use the litterbox as well. These range from pain to a request for a treat. 

Requesting Cleaning Their Litterbox

Cats in the wild instinctively hide their poop to avoid alerting predators to their presence. This is why cats cover their poop when using the litterbox as well. Some cats will take it a step further, and ask you to clean their litterbox after they’ve used it, particularly if they pooped. 

Arthritis 

If you have a senior cat, arthritis might be the issue. It can be painful for a cat with arthritis to climb out of the litterbox. If your cat remains in the box and meows, or meows as they are exiting, this could be the culprit. 

Request for Treat

Did you train your cat to use their box by giving them a treat? They may still expect a treat, long after the training period is over. It’s possible that they are meowing to say, “Hey, I did the thing. Where’s my treat”?

They could also be seeking a little attention or verbal praise for a job well done. 

Rectal Pain 

Have you ever had a poop that left burns on its way out? You were probably in significant pain immediately after your bathroom trip. This can occur in cats as well. Anal sac disease and diarrhea are the two common culprits of rectal pain for cats. If this is the case, you may notice your cat licking their rectum often, particularly after pooping. 

Why does my cat meow before pooping?

There are a few reasons your cat may meow before pooping. It’s possible that they are meowing before pooping to request your presence, or a problem with the litter box, as listed above. There are a few other possibilities as well.

Bowel Obstruction

If your cat seems to be in pain before pooping, they may have a bowel obstruction. You may notice that they poop a smaller amount than normal, or have to strain to poop at all. If the obstruction is severe, they may not be able to poop. 

If your cat hasn’t pooped for 48-72 hours, you’ll need to contact your vet. 

Constipation

Constipation can be caused by a  number of things. Diet is a common culprit. Inactivity can also play a role. A bowel obstruction can cause constipation as well. Again, if it’s been 48-72 hours since they’ve been able to poop, you’ll need to call the vet. 

Worms

Kittens typically have worms. You may not expect your older cat to have an issue with worms, but they can pick them up from many places. Once the worm gets inside your cat’s body, it begins to multiply. 

Worms can cause pain before and during pooping, so check your cat’s poop for worms. Some can only be identified under a microscope, so a check-up is also a good idea. 

What to do about my cat meowing when using the litter box?

It’s not glamorous, but part of your job as a cat owner is to monitor your cat’s health. This includes their bathroom habits. It’s important to know if your cat is experiencing pain in the litterbox, because it’s often caused by a medical issue that needs treatment. 

Watch Your Cat Go

If you suspect your cat is meowing in pain when using the litterbox, you’ll need to watch them go. Look for any signs of straining. Notice how long it takes for them to do their business. Once they are finished, examine the poop for worms or signs of constipation. If they meow when peeing, be on the look out for blood in the urine. 

Keep Track

You’ll also need to monitor how often your cat goes to the litterbox. It’s best to keep a notebook so you can write down how many times they go each day. A simple pee and poop column and tally marks work well. Just be sure to write the time period down as well. 

This can help you determine if there’s a problem. It’s also helpful if you need to take them to the vet. Frequency can give clues to your cat’s issue. 

Make a Vet Appointment

If you believe the meowing is caused by pain, you’ll need to take them to the vet. Your vet will likely run tests to determine the cause, and then develop a treatment plan. 

The Right Diet

Be sure that your cat is eating healthily. Provide them with a quality cat food and plenty of clean water. If they are constipated, try adding a small amount of pumpkin to their food. Wet food can also help with constipation, because it has a higher moisture content. 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.