My Cat Is Peeing Up The Wall. Help!

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My cat sometimes pees in the litter box but then she sometimes sprays as well (or at least doesn’t squat as much, lifts her tail quivering high and shoots pee out instead of down), she covers both as if she is just peeing. She seems confused about the two actions. She is a confident, healthy (no UTI’s or medical condition — I took her to the vet and had her checked), spayed 5-month-old female. Have you ever heard of this and is there anything I can do? Obviously when she sprays it goes over the side of the litterbox. She did this before being spayed and as well as after.

~ Colleen

kitten in litterbox

Image courtesy of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital blog

Siouxsie: Well, Colleen, in fact we have heard of this, and we think we can help you!

Thomas: This is actually a pretty common problem that cat caretakers have, so rest assured that you’re not alone in your dilemma.

Dahlia: Basically, what you need to do in order to keep the pee in the box instead of all over your walls is to get a larger box with higher sides.

Siouxsie: The vast majority of litterboxes are too small for the cats that use them. As you can see in this picture, a standard-size box works very well for a kitten.

Thomas: But once we start getting bigger, it may not be as comfortable for us to go in a box that small.

Dahlia: The most effective litterbox for a full-size cat is, in fact, a storage tote! The high sides will keep litter from going all over the place when your cat digs — and if your cat is a sprayer or just a cat that doesn’t quite get that you’re supposed to squat until you’re finished doing your business, the pee will stay inside the box rather than on your walls and floor.

A blue Rubbermaid storage tote turned into a litterbox by cutting a hole in the end.

Great idea! Cut a hole in the side of a storage tote to make a high-sided box big enough for even the biggest housecat.

Siouxsie: We found some great instructions on how to turn a 25-gallon storage tote into a litterbox. If you use this technique, we’re willing to bet that you’ll never have a problem with your stand-up urinator again!

Thomas: One step they didn’t mention in this DIY guide, which we think is pretty important, is that you should smooth the edges of the hole you cut in the box. Get some fine-grit sandpaper (probably 220 to 240 grit) and gently go over the sharp corners of your new hole. This will prevent any discomfort when kitty enters the box.

Dahlia: These totes come with covers, of course, but we highly recommend leaving the cover off. Most cats prefer not to have covered boxes because they trap the fumes inside.

Siouxsie: Another problem with covered boxes is that some caretakers will forget to clean the box regularly: out of sight, out of mind.

Thomas: For those readers with older cats, check to make sure they’re not having trouble getting into the box through the door cut. If they are, you may have to make the bottom of the entrance door a little bit lower or add a ramp.

Dahlia: And for everything you ever wanted to know about litterbox behavior, kitty litter, product reviews, and much more, we highly recommend The Happy Litterbox. It’s a great site, and even we sometimes go there to get more information on these issues!

Update, Sept. 20, 2o11: Our friend Ingrid King over at The Conscious Cat blog just wrote a review of a new high-sided litterbox called the NVR Miss, which she saw at a cat show, and had a chance to test it. It seems to work quite well, although if you have a bigger cat, you may still want to go with the storage tote solution.

  • Wetdryvac

    I’ve been using the storage tote method for the household cats for four years – solves both the pee-spray issue and the issue of a cat who decided to scratch from higher up and ended up leaving claw marks on the wall. I also have regular sized and large sized litter boxes going – we’ve several cats -and the cats mostly pick and choose which is most comfortable for them.

  • http://orange susan krein

    I have had the same problem with Benji my Egyptian MAU since I had him from 4 months. he is now nearly 5 years. In the end I brought a large cat litter tray with high walls plus a top. I took off the door and although he still try’s to stand with one paw outside the try its much better and I have also changed to the Worlds Best Cat Litter which I change every time he uses it great litter, he loves it and I wash out his tray and cover once a week, but that litter has worked marvels for me too, its great no dust nice smelling and I thoroughly recommend it.

    Good luch Sue

  • http://PawsansEffect Sunny

    Thank you all for the great ideas for containing the cat pee! I was and have been in tears since this started about 3days ago. I have 3 kittys and the largest of the 3 and he’s quite a bit bigger was doing the same thing!! Like he was squatting but not low enuff and it was going on the 3wals and sides of the litterbox. I’m on my way to get couple large totes!! Also the Worlds Best Cat Litter is just that the BEST!!

    Houston TX

  • Valerie

    For anyone who is not enthusiastic about trying to cut a door in the side of their tote: There is a litterbox on the market that is actually just a large tote like this with a lid. The lid has a large, round “door” already cut out. I think the added lid helps to keep litter contained and not scattered as the cat jumps back out. I think if you Google “top entry litter box”, you will find them in several places.

  • jenna

    i have larger cats and one of them likes to stand up in the litter box. i’ve found that a 66qt storage box works quite well. just be careful about how low you cut a hole or lower the side. another thing to try is putting puppy training where the peeing is happening. they’ll absorb the pee and they don’t tend to leak. also any of the Nature’s Miracle products work wonders for getting rid of smells. good luck :)

  • http://n/a alma slocumb

    I have a lot of cats that I take care of, some are in the home. I live on social security and would like to know what kind of litter is best (and least expensive) I use a lot.

  • Deanne Bednar

    My 15 year old cat is peeing around the house, puddles and dribs and drabs…..and sometimes the pee shoots straight out from her back end. She pees in the shelving unit, on the walls, on the floor, and sometimes goes in the litter box, but if often sprays out over the top.

    This is all new.
    She is also sleeping on a lower bed, and the younger cat is sleeping in her old high spot on top of the shelves.

    Dominance issues? Dimentia? Arthritis (why she doesn’t sleep in her old high spot, and being dominant?) Urinary Track Infection?

    She is eating and drinking. She used to get 1/2 dry/1/2 canned…grain-free, awesome ingredients. I am only feeding her canned catfood now, grain-free, top of the line. Giving her attention, confining her to a part of the house (so she doesn’t contaminate every room, and so I can give her more attention, if that is what she is after). I have moved the litter around closer to some of her pee spots. Sometimes she uses it, and other times, walks past and just pees right in front of me…as well as anywhere in the house when I am not around.

    She wants to be petted only on HER schedule, and usually if I am at the same height or under her. She loves to sleep with me, or hang out on the table while I am on the computer (and drink my coffee with goats milk in it, with her paws). If I bend down to pet here, she is likely to slink down and away from my touch.

    I am taking her to the vet tomorrow, and have asked a friend to advise me on homeopathic remedies.
    Any suggestions?

    • Kalpanakitteh

      Hi Deanne,
      I came upon this lovely blog while searching for a solution for my cat’s, (mercifully infrequent), standing-up pee overspill. My cat isn’t overweight, just a big breed akin to a Maine Coon, & the NVR Miss litterbox & Nature’s Miracle High-Sided are simply not quite long & wide enough, so I guess it is DIY time.

      Anyhow, I know I’m several months late but I still wanted to chime in since it looks like you didn’t get any replies.

      Your theories about dominance issues, arthritis etc. are good ones. My first thought since this is/was new & unusual behavior was a vet visit. It very likely is medical.

      I hope you and your kitty got the answers and solutions you both needed & that all is back to normal now.