High Rise Syndrome in Cats
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 16, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. It is great to be able to open the window and let some of the spring air in, but it can pose a danger to your cat, especially if you live in an apartment without window screens. Even if you have window screens, some cats can lean against them and push them out. Every year a number of cats are injured or die from falling out of windows. This is such a common problem that the veterinary profession has labelled it “High Rise Syndrome”.
Cats have excellent survival instincts and little fear of heights. They enjoy perching on high places and normally have good enough balance and sense not to fall. No cat would actually jump from a second story window, but if the window is open and the cat is distracted by a bird or something else outside, he may lose his balance and fall out. Falling cats do land on their feet but their legs are usually slightly splayed. This can cause broken legs, broken jaws, punctured lungs and even death. The interesting thing is that a cat that falls from a lower height may be more severely injured than one who falls a greater distance because the cat may not have time to adjust his body to compensate for the fall.
If your cat does fall, take him or her immediately to your veterinarian for treatment. Don’t assume he is okay, even if he seems all right. There is a great chance of internal injury. 90 percent of cats with High Rise Syndrome will survive with proper medical treatment.
High rise syndrome is totally preventable. Here’s what you need to do:
1.Install snug and sturdy screens on all your windows.
2. If your screens are adjustable make sure they are tight and can not pop out.
3. Remember–child proof window guards do not provide adequate protection for cats as they can slip through them.
4. If you want your cat to get some air,take him outside on a leash or in a screened porch or terrace. If you take your cat on the balcony, leash and supervise him.
By following these simple steps, you may save your cat’s life.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan