I once lived on the third floor of a brownstone, and one down I looked across the street only to see a young black-and-white cat on a window ledge obscured from time to time by a fluttering curtain. I got weak in the knees and promptly wrote a letter to the owners about Feline High-Rise Syndrome.I didn’t know the people, so the letter was anonymous. About a week or so I looked out again and could see that the apartment was empty. I thought often about that little cat until one day I didn’t have to wonder. She became a member of my Fire Escape Brigade, the cat that I fed on my fire escape. She eventually became Precious, and then she became my cat. Anyway…
Feline High-Rise Syndrome occurs primarily in the summer or during times of warm weather when cats are allowed to explore unscreened balconies and terraces and when windows are left open and unscreened in tall apartment buildings. The cat sits in the window and eventually leaves the safety of indoors to sit on the outside ledge or a fire escape. She sees a bird fly by. Or a fluttering curtain distracts him. Or a loud noise. Or she just plain loses her balance.
Contrary to popular thought, cats doesn’t always land feet first – well, they do, but not exactly. Their feet might be splayed, and that can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises. And even death. Another belief is that a fall from a shorter distance will offer protection. Absolutely not! They might actually be at greater risk for injury because shorter distances don’t provide enough time to rotate and adjust the body posture to fall correctly.
The ASPCA says, “Remember that when cats fall from high-rise buildings, they may end up on sidewalks or streets that are dangerous and unfamiliar to them. Never assume that the animal has not survived the fall; immediately rush the animal to the nearest animal hospital or to your veterinarian.”
The good news — cats who fall have a 90% survival rate provided they receive immediate and correct veterinary attention.
To avoid Feline High-Rise Syndrome, make sure your windows and screened and that the screens are sturdy and tightly seated in the window frames. CHILD-PROOF WINDOW GUARDS OFFER NO PROTECTION.