Jul 17 2012

High-Rise Syndrome

Highrise building

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s your cat, and unlike Supercat she’s not soaring. She has just taken a leap out of your 6th story window, perhaps still brimming with her cat confidence telling her that it’s just like jumping off of the dresser.

But it’s not. As with any creature falling a great distance, injury and death are possible. Your cat may land on her feet, but when doing so from 8 stories up it’s not going to be a light landing. We see cats move around with such agility and grace, landing from heights we couldn’t imagine, maneuvering themselves along narrow ledges, that we become complacent about the possibility of injury due to falls.

A rarity? It happens enough for veterinarians to give it a name: High-Rise Syndrome. In a study at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, 132 cats came to the hospital within a 5 month period. Undoubtedly, this type of injury is more likely to occur in a vertically built city, but any height from the 2nd floor on up is capable of inflicting serious harm. It’s interesting that this is a problem that occurs heavily in younger cats. As a rule, these younger cats tend to be less aware of their surroundings and they are still learning how the laws of physics apply to them.

The injuries to high-rise syndrome cats include broken limbs, facial trauma, chest trauma, and shock. The chest trauma and shock may be life-threatening.

The good news? It’s easily preventable. Go check all the screens in your house, and make sure that they are strong and secure (those childproofing bars do not count—cats can slip between them). If your cat falls, go to your local emergency care provider even if your cat seems ok. Chest injuries often don’t show themselves immediately. Amazingly, around 90% of these cats survive, though recovery for the more seriously injured can be lengthy.


Caution: These news items, written by Lifelearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by our clinic veterinarian.

rlaing |

Location Hours
Monday7:30am – 7:30pm
Tuesday7:30am – 7:30pm
Wednesday7:30am – 7:30pm
Thursday7:30am – 7:30pm
Friday7:30am – 7:30pm
Saturday8:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday5:00pm – 6:00pm

The telephone number at the Emergency Veterinary Clinic is 905-495-9907.