Pees while standing... burying behavior at food bowl

by Sue
(New York)

Hello, My cat seems to be confused about a few things. She stands while peeing and the pee often goes over the edge of the box. I bought a tall box which helps somewhat but it still goes over the edge sometimes. Is this normal?


Also, she constantly scratches around her food bowl as if she was covering her food with litter gravel. Why does she do this?

My thoughts: I've never seen a cat actually standing while peeing, so that's a new one on me. I've seen cats that put one leg up and brace it against the side of the litter box, and I've seen them put their front paws on the edge so they're upright. I've never seen one fully standing up and urinating, though.

You might want to call the vet and mention it as it could be a sign of physical discomfort, but that is a wild guess. Perhaps another reader who has experienced this will see this question and give us a clue?

As for the food burying behavior, this is off-topic to the litter box issues, so I may move this to another part of the site at some point, but to answer your question...

This is common. Teddie does that all the time. The commonly given reason for this is that either she's trying to hide the food and cover her tracks, or she's not totally happy with the food selection itself. I think it's more the former, at least in the experience with my cat.

To a cat in the wild, burying your food is a protection mechanism just like covering up your feces, and not using the feeding area for a toilet. It keeps competition away, and it keeps you alive.

Remember, most attempts the cat makes at killing do not succeed, so every bit of food counts. One technique used by the tree climbing African leopard, is to bring the kill up high in the tree, and eat it over a period of time.

House cats use the burying technique, or, at least they think they do since there's no dirt or rocks to cover things (not on my floor anyway). I suspect this might be a more common behavior in multi-cat households, since there is some competition for food, but the instincts are there just the same.

Other than when Teddie and Frankie were kittens, all my cats have always shared food and water bowls without any fights, and they often have eaten from the same bowl at the same time.

The exception to this is special treat time, when we crack the tuna or other meat. Separate bowls are necessary then because it's a frenzy, with Teddie trying to eat from everyone's bowl, and Priscilla and Frankie (who doesn't really like tuna that much anyway) letting her get away with it.

Perhaps if they all had separate bowls, Teddie would not do that food burying behavior, but I have no way of knowing.

I hope that helps.
-Kurt

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May 09, 2012
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Marking Behavior?
by: Kurt (Admin)

To Anonymous with the 6 year old female cat...

Behavior changes can be a sign of illness, and I believe it's possible that standing up while urinating could be a sign of discomfort. But, I think it's also possible that if she's standing up, backing up against a bush or tree outside, that she is displaying territorial marking behavior.

May 09, 2012
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Should I worry?
by: Anonymous

I just watched my 6 year-old female cat pee standing up today. She follows my dog around outside and actually did it next to one of his favorite bushes. I don't see any signs of illness, but am concerned! I have not noticed any messes near the litter box yet.

Dec 28, 2010
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Try Deep Plastic Storage Containers
by: Kurt (Admin)

Arlie,

Thank you for adopting an abused cat, and an older one at that! It's always nice to hear about a rescue.

To all who have cats who stand up to pee... there is no litter box that I've seen that is tall enough to handle all situations of this nature, but...

See veterinarian Lisa Pierson's page on the litter box and note this:

'I need a very tall (19") box because a couple of my cats stand up to pee. They are what I not-so-affectionately refer to as "elevator butt pee'ers".'

She has the same issue with some of her cats. Her solution? A simple one. Get a large storage container with high walls, and make a cutout for your cat to enter and exit.

She has a picture on that page of the Sterilite storage bin that she uses. Other brands would do, and even with 4 inches of litter, 19" high sides should keep all but the largest cats from being able to urinate over the sides.

Yes, there's a possibility that your cat could aim at the opening, but this is the best solution I've seen.

Dec 28, 2010
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My Pee-Pee Queen
by: Arlie

My cat pees while standing up too. She's eight years old and I adopted her in February, and she has always peed standing up. I've tried closed(boxed)litter boxes, open ones, in fact I've gone through five litter boxes with her and no box is tall enough for her. She's an abused cat and very skittish and I don't want to take her back to the shelter but I am so tired of cleaning up cat piss twice a day off the floor. Please someone give me an answer. Is there a cat whisper out there that can help please!

Mar 22, 2009
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Pees while standing
by: sylvie

Hi, my cat pees inside the litter box but about 50% of the time he squats in the litter box and then after the pee stream starts he just stands up and continued peeing. Sometimes he starts squatted, sometimes he doesn't bother.

I put plastic cover on 2 sides so at least the urine doesn't get outside on the wall and it's easy to clean but I don't know what to do ?
He never sprays outside the box but I don't know how to make him stop !

Gabriele, I read your comment about using a cover tray..

What do you mean exactly by that ?

Do you mean a litter with a roof ? they are too small for my cat ....
Thanks !

Dec 26, 2008
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Pees while standing up
by: j70460

I have not one, but two neutered boys who pee standing up. The vet was insisting they were spraying, but alas. I saw Cxxx squat in the litter box and then after the pee stream started he just stood up (unsquatted?) and continued peeing. Sometimes he starts squatted, sometimes he doesn't bother. He also does spray, but there is a difference between his spraying and his peeing.

I saw Pxxx approach a freshly cleaned (washed with new litter) litter box and turn his back and standing outside the box, pee into the box, and like a guy at urinal, he got some in and some out of the box. Both cats are 11ish, both have had health problems diagnosed within the last 6 months. Neither sprayed or missed the litter box until they fell ill. Both use the litter boxes for solid waste. I really wish this wasn't so unusual. We are all very unhappy.

Jun 19, 2008
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Peeing while standing -- just started
by: Marilyn Evans

My cat for years put her front paws on the edge and urinated into the box. A few days ago she started facing the opposite direction and, while standing, pees mostly outside of the box. I've tried a taller box, but it doesn't help.

This started at about the same time we had house guests and I changed the direction I was sleeping in my bed, and I bought the wrong litter (non-clumping) - none of which may have anything to do with it.

I've changed back to the old litter, the house guests are gone and I've turned my bed back around, but she's still doing it. I've tried moving her further into the box and turning her around, but she complains and has no idea what I'm on about. A covered box is next. She's otherwise a real sweety.

Apr 07, 2008
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My cat did the same
by: Gabriele

Hi Sue,

just bumped into your question about your cat peeing while standing. My late cat, Rani, used to do the same. I never knew why, but I was not bothered but simply bought a covered tray. She never showed any health problems until her passing away due to a tragic accident at the age of 14.
I suppose, your cat just prefers peeing this way. Like many men do as well. A covered tray should do the trick. Don't worry.

Feb 23, 2008
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Urinates while standing.
by: Michelle (Minnesota)

For what it's worth, my 13 year-old female cat has started ...well, I have to assume she's standing while peeing. I have a tall litter box and a few months ago noticed that there was urine in front of the box and on the edge of the box, meaning she was half in and half out of the box when she went. This happens whether the box has been used or has just been cleaned. Sometimes it doesn't happen for weeks, sometimes it happens a couple days in a row. She has since been to the vet for a complete "wellness check" and blood workup and received a clean bill of health. The problem continues and I have no answers yet, but I wanted you to know that someone else is going through the same thing.

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