High Rise Syndrome in Cats

Warmer weather is upon us, yet it is not open window time in my house – not yet. I live in fear of one of my precious darlings venturing out a ground floor window or falling from an upper story one. As such, even in the sweltering months of July and August, I never crack the windows further open than half-a-cat-width (or about three inches). I usually just pay higher than average electricity bills to run the air conditioning. But at least I know the kitties are safe from their extreme-sport impulses (like hanging from the window screen).I have good reason to worry about the potentially lethal combination of open windows and cats. Consider Sugar, a Boston feline who recently plummeted from the nineteenth floor through an open window. Other than bruising on her chest, Sugar survived her impromptu base-jumping adventure without a scratch. And, thanks to her microchip, rescuers were able to return her to her owner. Not all kitties are so lucky.

These mishaps occur so frequently that veterinarians have a term for them: feline high-rise syndrome. Newspapers have quoted one vet in New York saying she sees a minimum of five cats a week who have taken serious plunges. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association even conducted a study on feline high-rise syndrome in the ‘80s. Of the 132 daredevil cats studied, 90 percent had survived their falls. Another study conducted in Croatia found that 96 percent of cats suffering similar falls also survived. 

The research revealed that cat falls from four stories or less usually survive without incurring serious injuries. Happy endings were also common for cats falling from nine stories or higher. Those falling between five and nine stories were often in the worst shape. My house is a mere two stories, but I don’t think I’m going to allow my cats to test the scientific theories this summer. We’ll just keep the windows shut and the air conditioning on high.

Do you leave your windowns open near your cats? Or are you afraid of that like  me? Tell us in the comment section!

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