cat-vertical-pee

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Dealing with a cat who pees outside the litter box is one of the most frustrating issues cat parents may be faced with. We’ve previously addressed the various reasons why cats eliminate outside the litter box, including litter box aversion, urine marking, hormonal problems, and medical issues, here. Today, I’d like to address a less common, but nonetheless frustrating version of litter box behavior: cats who pee standing up, or vertical pee-ers, as I like to call them.

The difference between vertical peeing and spraying

Spraying is not to be confused with vertical peeing. Some cats, both male or female, will urinate inside the litter box either standing up, or they start urinating in a squatting position and then gradually stand up as they finish. And yes, female cats do this, too – we’ve got our own resident pee-er with Ruby.

Spraying, on the other hand, is a territorial behavior. Cats who spray stand upright and deposit a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces.  Even though both male and female cats spray, the behavior is mostly seen in unneutered male cats, and occurs more often in multicat households, although even a single cat may spray.

Anatomy of a vertical pee-er

After I adopted Ruby, I couldn’t figure out why there was frequently a small amount of urine just behind the litter box. Since the box is placed in a corner against the wall, I knew that she couldn’t possibly have squatted back there, so how did the urine end up outside the box? After a couple of days of being puzzled, I finally caught her in the act.

She started out squatting and peeing horizontally, but slowly and gradually raised and wiggled her rear end throughout the duration of her peeing. A normal size litter box wasn’t high enough to contain the urine.

And so the search for the perfect litter box began.

The search for the perfect litter box

I don’t like covered boxes. Most cats don’t like them either. They don’t like not being able to see while they’re doing their business. If covered boxes aren’t scooped immediately after the cat deposits something in them, the stench becomes concentrated inside the box (think of a covered litter box as the feline equivalent to a Port-a-Potty). I also like to be able to see what my cats are doing when they’re using the box. Some health problems first manifest through unusual behavior in the litter box, such as straining.

Several friends suggested that I get a large Rubbermaid or clear plastic storage container with high sides and cut an opening on one side that’s low enough so the cats can easily get in and out. This can work well, but it also looks pretty ugly. While my litter boxes aren’t the center of my decor, they are in pretty visible spots (I don’t believe in hiding them in a dark corner), so I wanted something that was at least somewhat pleasing to the eye.

There are a number of high-sided, uncovered litter boxes on the market, and I tried most of them. Most worked 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, I dealt with cleaning up urine that had spilled over the edges of the box. Both of my litter boxes sit on carpet, so this was not fun. Thankfully, the Anti-Icky Poo enzyme based cleaner I’ve been using for years completely eliminates urine stains and odors, even on (white!) carpet. For extra insurance, I put a Drymate Litter Mat underneath the boxes. Now all I had to do when we had spillage was throw the mat in the washer, but I was still nervous about some urine making it past the mat onto the carpet.

The NVR Miss

Thankfully, I discovered the NVR Miss litter box a year or so after I adopted Ruby. At the time, it was the highest box on the market, and I think it still is.

This box is everything a litter box should be. It’s roomy. It has a strategically positioned cat-friendly entrance that makes it easy even for senior cats to get in and out of the box. The clever design (a slight protrusion across from the entrance) provides a cue for cats to align themselves lengthwise, so you won’t have to worry about urine going outside the box at the low entrance. The sides are high enough even for Miss Ruby and her vertical peeing gyrations.

While I was more concerned about urine spillage, another nice benefit of the high sides is that it also keeps litter contained inside the box. Ruby and Allegra are litter kickers and they both get pretty energetic when it comes to covering what they produce. This box has kept that issue to a minimum. Another plus is that the smooth finish allows litter clumps to easily release from the box’s walls – something that has not been the case with some of the other boxes, where parts of the clumps would stick to the box’s sides and then break into small pieces.

Litter box issues should never be taken lightly, but if you’ve ruled out medical and behavioral issues, you may just have a vertical pee-er!

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.  

40 Comments on Is Your Cat a Vertical Pee-er?

  1. I’d love a picture too I have made make shift splash guards for one of my 18 yr old but it isn’t working and my cat boxes look like there were hand made by a child ..lol not a great look….I am thinking of buying slash card panels on Amazon meat for this purpose but they are 25 bucks for 3

  2. While I understand the idea of having the box open on top, I actually like the tall-walled litter boxes with lid that has a hole for top entry. The reason this is ideal is because they came jump up on top of the box and then crawl in through the hole. Otherwise I had to put a step stool so they didn’t blindly have to jump over the tall wall. Having an entry of any kind on the side didn’t work because my elevator-butt cat would always pee out through the entry. I have had ZERO problems ever since I bought a Frisco Top Entry Cat Litter Box, Large 23-in. There’s plenty of room inside and never one drop of pee on the floor. Someone else mentioned a NVR Miss brand, but I can tell by looking at the size of the cat in the picture that it wouldn’t work for Breezy.

  3. My 4 year old 12 lb. male tabby cat started standing up to pee recently while his female sibling did not change her stance. I previously used 2 10-inch high litter boxes side by side for the both of them to use. I have now solved the problem with a 12 5/8-inch high extra long storage container which they both use without any problems (Sterilite 110 qt clear storage container). The new “litter box” does not take up any more space than my two previous litter boxes.
    They both can jump in without any problems, and less litter is found outside of their box.

  4. We cannot use a litter box that has a side or end entry. My cat just steps in and pees out the entry. I had hoped the side entry would make her turn in the box but nope. Sometimes she just puts her front paws in which means she is pooping and peeing all over the floor. I got a 8″ tall Sterilite storage box and simply took the lid off. She is only 1 yo so jumping in and out is no problem for her. That solved the problem in my office. For our family room I got a top entry box. I have to really be on top of cleaning it so she doesn’t reject it (she has) due to the porta-potty effect. I am still looking for a solution for our RV. Top entry or storage box is not an option because there is not enough height in the cabinet we put the box in. We have to carry an enzymatic for continual cleanups of the floor and entry. Fortunately, its not carpet. We are really racking our brain for a better solution. My husband totally rejected the idea of a top entry box in the shower. If anyone has ideas we would be sooo grateful! Thanks.

    • This is my cats problem , she use to squat , and now she steps in and just pees standing up , out onto my floor never turns around or squats , and it leaves huge puddle I started putting one pads under the box to try and help wuth soaking it up, I’m at my white end, I’ve tried different litter boxes , different litter , everything , she just pees alot out the entrance standing up , help

      • I commented on here a few years back about my cat who was peeing up high against the walls until I put another litter box inside the other in an L-shape. I thought that had solved the problem until he started peeing against the wall in our bedroom in the mornings! I was also at my wits end. His problems were making us miserable, but I was pretty sure that most of them were caused by stress (not having full freedom to roam beyond our house and back yard and neighbours cats hanging about). We spoke to our vet about it a few months back. Since then he has been on prozac-type medication and from day 1 he was a completely different cat! He’s much happier in himself and he’s a little pleasure to be with, just as playful as before, and he now squats neatly in his sandbox every time. The tablets or capsules are cheap at around 50c a day and they have made a world of difference for our little fellow (and us). I suspect there are quite a few misunderstood kitties out there who might be vertical peeing out of stress. It might be worthwhile talking to your vet.

  5. I found a pretty high box and mine is covered thinking this would help keep things contained, WELL she pees at the entrance of the box so of course when she squats to pee everything is fine until she gradually lifts her booty right out of the entrance of the box *face palm*

    • i got higher boxes for my girl and she arched her back so her hooha faced up to the celing and she , i kid you not, pee fountain arched over the box, so i went back to normal size and she is better still sometimes misses but better

    • I have a vertical peer too! Regular box causes frequent misses and stinky clean ups. The solution is a top entry box. Nice and tall. It looks like a big storage tote with a hole in the lid. The lid hinges up so scooping is easy. Fyi, I see urine marks up both ends and even on the inside of the lid. But, at least it’s IN the box!

  6. Dang I clicked on this hopeful to finally find an answer to find out it was a totally different thing!

    My cat is an *ACTUAL * vertical pee-er as in he is vertical while doing it! I caught him just 10 minutes ago standing on his hind legs holding onto the edge of the box with his front paws and doing his business… then he pooed vertically as well!

    I’ve never seen this and so far no one has posted articles about it that I have found yet. What a strange kitty haha!

  7. I feal for u too because im doing the same exact things like having the waterproof matris pad underneath the litter box. my cat pees on my carpet in my room or elavator butt pees in the litterbox when he doesnt get what he wants .

  8. My cat has been neutered for years now and he IS a bigger cat. He is perfect weight for his size. My problem was said to me by my vet that maybe he needed a bigger litter box, and that he had no problems. So we went bigger, and bigger, and bigger. I have no room to but anything bigger tried lids on litter boxes and he just doesn’t like it. He will go to the litter box squat as normal cats should and stand up. Now my problem is not small specks of urine BUT massive puddles that YES I have stepped in early in the mornings. I’m now at a loss. I’m tired and frustrated due to the fact that i rent my apartment and I can’t afford for anything to be ruined. My boyfriend and I are now running to the bathroom each time we hear him go into the bathroom and physically hold his butt down. HELP!!!

      • I feel your pain! I have very large, high sided litter boxes and my Rocket STILL manages to shoot his urine up over the edge. I tried a large litter box with a lid but Rocket positions himself so that his urine shoots right out the entrance! I don’t have a bunch of money to burn on constantly trying new boxes and I dont foresee this habit going away on its own so now I place the litter box on top of several overlapping pee pads as well as taping pee training pads on the wall around the litter box. Its not pretty but it sure does make like sooo much easier!

        • My cat was vertical peeing against the front wall of the house between the windows and the doors. We put foil along the floor to discourage him and he moved further along the wall to go under the windows. Eventually we solved the problem by putting a tray type litterbox inside the back of a larger litterbox (the ones with lower front and higher sides) in an L shape. The back box is placed a bit below the sand level and the bottom ledge is covered with litter. We put this on the tiled foyer next to the wall he used to pee on. He uses this box every time now instead of the wall. He’s a big cat and goes up pretty high, but the top and side rims of the inserted litter tray are containing the pee which then drops to the bottom and settles on the litter covering the lower rim. Easy to clean up, just pull the smaller tray out, shake litter into the bin and clean. Two smaller boxes make it easier for quick swapping. Hope this helps somebody with same probs.

  9. Got all excited when I found this page until I read the dimensions. My female kitty is a vertical pee-er and I’ve had to resort to setting up a puppy pad behind the litter box.
    Unfortunately, the box we currently are using is already 11 inches tall in the back. The NVR Miss is about the same height.

    My quest goes on.

    • Contact NVR Miss through their website, Shelagh. They were offering extensions to increase the height of their box, I think they probably still do.

    • Create a taller litter box cardboard cut to size, contact paper to cover. I’ve raised a V-P and it was the best solution. A clear sterelite bin appreciate for you cats size, extend Ed 3 sides, I have mine 2 short sides and back with large front so he can hop in. Also putting down a large washable pee pad under as precaution. (Flannel back table cloth, this is bottom layer, fleece 3rd layer,old towel 2nd layer, 100% cotton material- bright cheer color this is top layer: cut 24×36 square of each (or smaller depends on your box ).

  10. I have a vertical pee er and have resorted to a deep box with puppy pads taped onto 2 sides works wall and shows just how high she can pee

  11. Someone please help my male cat has been neutered for almost 4 years he’s around 5 years now and I saw him do it a couple days ago for the first time he’s never done this before he was always a squatter but I’ve physically seen him do it at least 4 times (he’s done it about every night but I havent seen them all) the past week and a half all in the house I have a litter box but for my younger cats (he’s very good about doing his business outside) and I know he’s not spraying because there’s *alot* of urine coming out plus he’s fixed but he will not stop doing it in the house

  12. We took notice of this post right away as Toby is one of these vertical kitties. Dad went through a time of figuring out what the heck was going on as Toby did not do this when he was young but developed the habit after about 5 years old. Of course the vet was consulted and no issues. Dad said he was in the box so that was half the battle. We now have two large covered rubbermaid containers. One is 45 gallon and the other 30 gallon. Both have two hole cut in for easy in and out. Buddy who is pushing 20 uses the bigger one as he can walk in one door look out the other and let go. They work great and we have not need of loads of litter boxes “one for each cat and an extra.” which is ridiculous. In fact our family of 6 only use the larger box leaving the smaller one needing a scoop every other day. Love big boxes

    • could you send me a picture of this? the litter box in the OP is still no where near tall enough for my cat who pees standing up. my e-mail is my username provided at gmail.

  13. I too had this issue with an adoptee – since the litter box is under a shelf in my laundry room, I took aluminum foil and taped it to the wall behind the box, letting the edge of the foil drape into the box and wrapping it around the two sides, taping it in place to the shelf bottom. No more puddles on the floor!

  14. I’m so glad to see this article. We rescued a 20 lb ginger male kitty last year and a few months I actually watched him go and it goes straight out from his back end and over the top of the litter boxes. I was shocked! We immediately got rid of our litter boxes and bought 2 35 or so gallon tubs to use as litter boxes. They have worked perfectly. Sometimes he comes pretty close to the top but has never once gone over since the change. Makes me wonder if that’s why his previous owner got rid of him. Such a simple solution, I would done anything to make it work and could never given him back to shelter over this. Thanks for posting..I really thought I had the only weirdo but very loveable kitty. ♡

    • Me, too! My 5 year old shelter adoptee has ‘hit the wall’ a few times in the year since I adopted her. I am trying now a Litter box with 1 12” side. The two sides slope down to about 8”. If this fails, I’m going for the storage container. In every other way she is an angel!!!!

  15. I have a very tall kitty (part Maine Coon) who is also a vertical pee-er. The only litter box that will contain her pee is the Modkat Flip Litter Box which is over 16 inches tall. I use without the lid or inserts.

  16. My kitty does that every once in a while so I finally switched out his traditional litter box to one of those large, clear storage boxes (the kind you can get at Target). It has higher sides and he’s also a very tall kitty. That has stopped the urine from hitting the wall.

  17. My newest rescue was hitting the wall. I then purchased ‘Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Litter Box’. (Chewy). Did the trick. The thing I like about it the MOST is the anti-stick surface. I’m not fighting the clumps of litter. Swish, and done. While we don’t necessarily use the corner box because of the layout of the ‘potty’ room, we like the entrance and high sides. We had to get 2 because of two cats. Can never figure out which box the ‘high-sider’ wants to use. 🙁

  18. Hi thank you for that, my cat Harry does this, I was teaching him to use the toilet and he completely misses. Ha, Ha

  19. Hi,
    I clicked on your link above for litter boxes and it brought me to the part of your guide for litter boxes, litter, and accessories. I was happy to see that we have 2 products for our cat that you like! We use the smaller Drymate Litter Mat with the cat paw pattern on it for in front of his litter box (2 actually – 1 in front of each). We also use Dr. Elsey’s litter. Glad to see some of the things we have for Rocco are Conscious Cat approved/recommended! 😉

  20. I have a couple of vertical urinators. I’ve tried the giant hooded boxes but the hood just directs the urine out the back of the box. I’ve used them without the hoods and they usually work just fine. However, for one of vertical guys I finally bought a Rubbermaid container. It works great for him but scooping it is sometimes a nightmare. The bottom of it is not flat. But that’s where we’re at for now.

  21. These are THE absolute best boxes. First heard of them here from Ingrid. You can request an extension in the comments when you purchase and they will send you a paypal invoice for $10, so worth it. They are super easy to keep clean and for us not a lot of scratches. The cats (4) love them. We have at least 2 vertical pee-ers but it seems like the other 2 think it’s fun now and try too lol

  22. I have a vertical pee-er. He just turned 8 years old and the first 6 years he lived here he did not do that! And even now, he doesn’t do it all the time. I was like you, puzzled at first, until one day I caught him in the act. I gently pushed down on his back while he was in the act, and he squatted then. I have had him to the vet to investigate possible health conditions that might of caused this “new” behavior. My vet assured me there is nothing wrong healthwise. I tried the boxes you recommend here, but often they were not high enough. I now use extra large hooded boxes. I noticed the tail playing a part in this behavior. If his tail is contained in a down position, no standing while peeing. If there is room for the tail to raise up high, the vertical peeing ensues. Just some FYI. Love you Ingrid, Allegra and Ruby

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