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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a domestic shorthair named Yuki who’s about five years old now. I’ve noticed that when she goes to the litter box, she doesn’t squat her butt all the way down when she pees, so she often misses the box. She aims for the edge and she just plain misses. I’ve tried boxes with a higher lid, but then she aims her butt just slightly over it.

I’ve gotten a litter box that is completely covered and it gives her plenty of room to walk in and turn around to her liking, and she doesn’t seem to mind that it’s covered and that it isn’t open above. It even comes with a very lightweight swingable door that could catch the pee since she seems to prefer peeing near the opening rather than any other side. The problem is, she hates the door. Specifically, she hates pushing against the door with her head. When I have the door up she poops outside the box, and when I don’t have the door up she misses.

I’ve seen one of those dome boxes where the cat walks in a circular little path before she gets to the litter, but that’s super expensive right now. I’m just wondering if there’s something I can do with what I already have, or can make at home. I know she isn’t missing on purpose, so it’s not like I’m mad at her, but I’m kind of at a loss and am on a very tight budget.

~ Haley

Siouxsie: Why yes! Yes, we do have a solution for you! It’s cheap, it’s easy, and missing the box isn’t the only problem it will solve.

Thomas: What you need is a top-opening litter box.

Bella: A box without any holes in the sides will ensure that Yuki can pee up the side of the box all she wants, but none of it will go on your walls or floor.

Siouxsie: You can see these fancy top-opening boxes retailing for around $40, but the good news is that you can make one for about $10.

Thomas: All you need is a big storage tote, a utility knife and some sandpaper, and you can make your own DIY box. Check out this video to see how easy it is.

Bella: Most of the DIY videos we see recommend an 18-gallon tote because that’s about the size of an ordinary litter box, but we say that especially since you’re putting a cover on it, you should go up a size, to maybe a 24-gallon tote.

Siouxsie: We recommend that you get a tote with smooth sides and bottom so that wet litter doesn’t get stuck in crannies and create a stink.

Thomas: We also prefer clear or translucent containers (like these 95-quart Sterilite (23.75-gallon) ones or the ones you can get from IKEA) because more light goes in and we can see whats going on around us.

Bella: Mama? Will you make us some of these boxes? Pleeeease? They look like fun!

Mama: Well, maybe I’ll make one to see how you like it. We’ll have to keep one low-entry box for Siouxsie, though.

Bella: Oh, thank you so much! I can’t wait to try it out!

Siouxsie: Just one more thing, Haley, and this is an important one. If Yuki started this vertical peeing behavior recently, you should bring her to the vet to have her checked out. Changes in litter box habits can mean the cat is in pain (as ashamed as I am to say it, my arthritic hips and knees make it hard for me to assume the proper “poop squat” position — but Mama’s so nice about it) or urinary tract issues.

Thomas: But if she’s always been like that, at least you’ll have a litter box that’ll keep you from having to hose down your walls and floor with urine deodorizer!

Bella: What about you other readers? Do you have a vertical pee-er? How have you managed the issue of dripping or litter box problems? Share your thoughts in the comments, please!