High-rise syndrome refers to injuries that cats can have when they fall from a steep height, such as from a balcony, a window, a fire escape, or when they miss a leap from landing to a higher architectural object, such as a ledge or a window.
Falls from high altitudes can lead to broken bones, punctured lungs, and a myriad of other dangerous health problems.
During a fall from a high position, a cat could reflexively rotate its body and adjust itself by using its acute sense of balance and pliability. This is defined as the cat’s righting reflex. The minimum height needed for this to occur in most cats (safely) would be approximately 90 centimeters (3 ft). To do this, cats are likely to relax their ventral muscles, flatten their bodies to some level, and create more air resistance.
What To Do If Your Cat Falls?
If your cat slips from a steep height, you should go to the vet as quickly as possible. This holds true even though you don’t know how badly your cat is injured. Although you might be able to spot broken bones or lacerations, you may not be able to see internal injuries such as fractured ribs or vertebrae. Your veterinarian can perform a full physical exam and can order X-rays, MRIs, or other veterinary tests to determine the health of your pet. Some of the most common injuries that may occur in a bad fall include:
- Punctured lungs
- Spinal fractures
- Shattered jaw
- Ruptured bladder
- Broken limbs or pelvis
- Fractured palate or teeth
The treatment of your cat will depend upon the type and seriousness of the injuries. This could require pain management, hospitalization, and surgery to repair broken bones or other damage.
Prevention and Care
Consider the following measures to keep your cat safe:
- Keep your window screens firmly in place
- Close windows if you don’t have a screen
- Shift furniture and tall things away from the railings to prevent them jumping up
- Get a cat enclosure as it can provide a safe play area
- Avoid accidents by holding your pet away from open terraces and balconies