Is Your Cat a Vertical Pee-er?


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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 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.  

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

  1. Mallery A
    December 17, 2020 at 5:15 pm (6 months ago)

    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*

    • brown
      January 5, 2021 at 7:40 pm (5 months ago)

      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

    • Dawn
      April 3, 2021 at 8:13 pm (2 months ago)

      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!

  2. Kaye
    December 17, 2020 at 4:27 am (6 months ago)

    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!

  3. gina morris
    December 10, 2020 at 2:04 am (6 months ago)

    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 .

  4. Amanda
    June 12, 2020 at 11:05 am (1 year ago)

    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!!!

    • Ingrid
      June 12, 2020 at 4:08 pm (1 year ago)

      Please contact NVM Miss through their website They used to offer extensions to make their already high box even higher. That may solve your problem.

      • Lana Rupnow
        October 15, 2020 at 3:11 pm (8 months ago)

        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!

    • Tiziana
      July 18, 2020 at 9:17 am (11 months ago)

      Get a covered one and with the “cat door” free. It saved me from getting into a crisis.

  5. Shelagh Collins
    May 15, 2020 at 10:44 pm (1 year ago)

    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.

    • Ingrid
      May 16, 2020 at 5:15 am (1 year ago)

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

    • Vic cannon
      December 5, 2020 at 11:13 pm (6 months ago)

      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 ).

  6. Mandy watson
    April 28, 2020 at 7:06 pm (1 year ago)

    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

  7. samantha mellin
    December 25, 2019 at 5:19 am (1 year ago)

    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

  8. Timmy Tomcat
    August 10, 2019 at 8:24 am (2 years ago)

    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

    • cajunflix
      March 21, 2020 at 8:26 am (1 year ago)

      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.

  9. Allison
    August 8, 2019 at 2:10 pm (2 years ago)

    My youngest is a vertical peer. She uses a covered litter box. I’m saving this article for other options.

  10. Karen Hernandez
    August 6, 2019 at 7:49 am (2 years ago)

    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!

  11. Terri A Garcia
    August 6, 2019 at 6:59 am (2 years ago)

    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. ♡

  12. Dana
    August 6, 2019 at 1:10 am (2 years ago)

    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.

  13. Mahshtay
    August 5, 2019 at 9:03 pm (2 years ago)

    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.

  14. Dinah
    August 5, 2019 at 8:11 pm (2 years ago)

    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. 🙁

  15. Valmae Walsh
    August 5, 2019 at 6:50 pm (2 years ago)

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

  16. Kim
    August 5, 2019 at 6:15 pm (2 years ago)

    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! 😉

  17. Andrea
    August 5, 2019 at 2:37 pm (2 years ago)

    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.

  18. Sharyl
    August 5, 2019 at 2:35 pm (2 years ago)

    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

  19. Jody A Vernay
    August 5, 2019 at 11:04 am (2 years ago)

    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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