Each year, hundreds of cats are injured or killed falling from high elevations. Despite their “righting reflex,” cats can suffer broken or crushed bones, as well as punctured lungs and other impalement injuries, when they tumble off fire escapes or through unscreened windows.
The incidence of cats falling from heights of 25 feet or more was defined as High-Rise Syndrome in 1987, by practitioners at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, who said they saw 132 cats with fall-related injuries over a five-month period. The mean age of cats affected was 2.7 years of age.
Because of their natural curiosity and hunting instincts, cats are frequently drawn to open windows and/or patio doors. Falling from windows is such a common occurrence for cats that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recently published an article to warn pet owners about the risks of open apartment or second-storey windows.
If your cat is injured in a fall, go to your veterinarian right away. The ASPCA reports that when cats receive immediate care, the recovery rate is close to 90 percent.
This article originally appeared in PetsMatter Volume 3 Issue 1, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. Copyright © 2009 AAHA. Find out more.