Skip to main content

Feline High-rise Syndrome

Feline High-rise Syndrome  refers to the range of injuries that a domestic cat will suffer when he or she falls from a great height off the balcony or through a window of an apartment.

People living in apartments in high-rise towers with their domestic cats need to be very careful when their cat goes out onto the balcony because they cannot assume that their cat knows best.  Domestic cats make mistakes notwithstanding that they are incredible athletes and very skilled at manoeuvring along narrow ledges at great heights.  Also cats like to sit at apartment windows looking outside.  Is the window closed?  Is the window secure?  Perhaps there is some sort of device inserted into an open window which is loose and through which a cat could fall.
Persian cat in Mumbai India at open window in high-rise apartment.
Photo: Rudolph Furtado. The cat is "Matahari"

Although it is probably rare, cats and kittens can and do fall out of apartments.  Sometimes they're killed on impact with the ground.

However, it may surprise you that cats are not only excellent climbers they are also superb at falling from a great height, thankfully, but don't test it whatever you do.

Apparently, 90% of cats that fall out of apartments survive.  They survive because when they impact the ground they are relaxed.  Also, the domestic cat will fan out his or her body like a flying squirrel to break the fall and the terminal velocity for a domestic cat falling from an apartment balcony is 53 mph while skydivers fall at 140 mph, as I recall.

The interesting thing about this is that if a cat falls off a balcony between the second and seventh floor and survive the fall, their injuries may well be greater than if the cat has fallen from the eighth floor and higher.

This is because when falling from a lower floor the cat does not reached terminal velocity and because of that the vestibular system in the inner ear tells the cat to brace itself for a landing in which case the legs are stiffer, whereas once the cat reaches terminal velocity the vestibular system does not send this message whereupon the cat is in a relaxed state.  This ensures that less bones are broken (src: The Cat Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health).

The sort of bones that are broken are of course legs and jawbones.  The lower jaw hits the ground at about the same time as the legs and is pushed up into the upper jaw causing fractures and injuries to the face.  The chest can also be injured and this is a priority for a veterinarian to deal with as it can be life-threatening.

The remarkable fact, though, is that when falling from such a height, perhaps 100 feet, the can is able to survive.

Cats on balconies should wear a harness and be tethered to the wall so they cannot go over the edge (sounds gross I know but safe). Windows should be firmly closed and locked. Or if open, secure systems put in place to keep the cat safe.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cat Ear Mites

Brown gunge. Yes, I know this is a ferret! It does show the build up of dark brown to black ear wax caused by the presence of the cat ear mites in the outer ear canal. This parasite is not restricted to the domestic cat, which makes this photo valid and a useful illustration (I was unable to find a suitable photo of a cat with the condition). Photo Stacy Lynn Baum under a creative commons license. Ear mites (minute crab like creatures) are one of the causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal (scientific term for this inflammation is Otitis externa ). The outer ear canal is the tube that runs from outside to the ear drum (the pathway for the reception of sound), which can be seen when looking at the ear. Otitis externa affects humans and often swimmers as it is called "swimmer's ear" in humans. This YouTube video show ear mites under a microscope. They are not actually in the ear in this video. There are many possible causes of Otitis externa in c

Feline Mange

I'll write about three types of feline mange (a) feline scabies or head mange (b) demodectic mange and (c) sarcoptic mange. The source material is from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - the best on the market . Generalised feline mange? Puerto Rico - Photo by Gotham City Lost And Found Feline Scabies - head mange Head mange or feline scabies, is a fairly rare condition in cats, which is caused by the Notoedres mite (head mite) that only reproduces on cats. The female mites burrow a few millimeters (that is a lot) into the skin around the head, and neck to lay eggs, which hatch and lay their own eggs. Their presence and activities causes intense itching that in turn causes the cat to scratch. The scratching will obviously be noticed and it will cause the skin to become red, scratched and worse infected. Symptoms: hair loss and scabs, thick wrinkled skin and grey/yellow crusts form plus the symptoms of scratching. Feline mange (head mange) is contagious and tr

Cat Anatomy

Cat Anatomy - Photo by Curious Expeditions . The picture above was taken at Wax Anatomical Models at La Specola in Florence, Italy. The photograph is published under a creative commons license kindly granted by the photographer. I am sorry if it is a bit gruesome. It is pretty well all I could find as an illustration that was licensed for publication. Cat Anatomy is a very wide ranging subject. The anatomy of a cat is very similar to human anatomy. If you were writing a biology book for students of biology you would go through every part of the a cat's anatomy in some detail. It would be similar to writing a book about the human anatomy. It would be a thick book and pretty boring for your average internet surfer. So, how do you limit such a big subject and make this post meaningful? The answer I think lies in doing two things: Having a quick general look at cat anatomy - an overview and; Focusing on the areas of cat anatomy that are particular to the cat and of parti