When the weather is hospitable, most people face a big temptation to open windows and doors to take advantage of the fresh air. If these openings are above the first floor of a cat owner’s residence, failing to take the proper care could result in a catastrophic event: high-rise syndrome. The good news is that it’s 100 percent preventable.
What is High-rise Syndrome?
It’s the trauma a cat suffers after a fall of more than two stories, equivalent to at least 24 feet, according to PetPlace.com. While some studies of cats that fell as many as 32 stories report that 90 percent of the animals survive if treated quickly, these animals often sustain significant injuries.
Statistics suggest that those that fall less than six stories actually suffer more severe trauma than those that plummet greater distances. Experts believe this is because felines reach a terminal velocity at around five stories, then relax and suffer fewer injuries.
Types of Injuries
The ASPCA says that when cats fall from high levels, they don’t land squarely on their paws. They instead land with their feet slightly apart, which can result in severe pelvis and head injuries. Cats that fall from more than 24 feet above ground typically have major injuries. The most frequent cause of death is severe chest trauma. Head trauma such as a fractured palate, broken bones in legs, spinal fractures like a broken neck, and abdominal trauma such as a ruptured bladder are other common injuries.
The proper treatment obviously depends on the types of injuries present. However, if the cat shows signs of shock, a veterinarian will treat it immediately with IV fluids.
You can make sure your cat never experiences high-rise syndrome in your home by taking four precautionary steps.
The first is to install sturdy and snug-fitting screens on all windows currently without screens. Never leave a screenless window open.
If your windows are equipped with adjustable screens, they must be tightly wedged into the frames. Cats are escape artists that can move silently and with great speed.
Childproof window guards are not sufficient protection. Cats are not children. They are agile enough and small enough to easily slip through these devices.
Finally, keeping cats indoors discourages them from dangers outside such as cars and dampens their desire to escape to the outdoors. Many owners who have adopted cats that once lived outside find that walking their pets on a leash only encourages them to want to escape to fresh air and all kinds of tempting adventures. The best environment for a cat that craves the outdoors is installing a full-screen enclosure in a backyard or a terrace if you have either one.