High Rise Syndrome in Cats: Will My Cat Jump Off the Balcony?
High-rise syndrome in cats is a very preventable occurrence. You should never allow your cat access to areas where they could fall and get hurt.
A feline is not prone to willingly leap off a balcony or out of a window. If a cat becomes distracted or is not paying attention, they can fall and have an accident. You want to keep your feline companion safe by keeping them indoors and away from open balconies and patios.
Many cats have survived great falls and lived to meow about it. You should check out this article if you live in a spot high above the ground or have a balcony and a cat.
What is Feline High-Rise Syndrome?
Cats tend to want to climb up to high locations. Feline high-rise syndrome indicates the injuries a cat will tend to incur when plummeting from a high place such as:
- Off a balcony
- Out of the window
- Down a fire escape
- Interior second-floor landing
Feline high-rise tends to occur in the warmer months when people open their balcony for a barbecue or to get some fresh air. This phenomenon was first reported in the 1980s in New York City when the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center treated over 100 cats that fell from buildings within five months. Fortunately, most of the cats survived, but not without sustaining injuries.
Cats enjoy elevated vantage points. They love to view their world from up high. If you live in an apartment with a balcony, know that allowing your feisty feline access is dangerous. Your feline may get seriously wounded, and it is your obligation as a pet parent to safeguard them.
Why Does a Cat Typically Fall?
Cats have some serious survival instincts. After all, they do have nine lives. It is unlikely that a cat would freely leap from a balcony. However, they may not always be so lucky. You must be extremely careful with your cat if you live in an apartment building high above the ground or when you leave windows open.
Even though cats are survivors, they could become focused on something, or something occurs that distracts them, and the unthinkable happens. Some of the reasons for cats falling from high places:
- Chasing prey, such as a squirrel or bird
- Declawed cat does not have claws to hold on
- Loud noise that frightens them
- Misjudging a jump to another area close by
- Trailing a scent and losing focus
- Younger cat or kitten with little experience
A fall can also occur if a cat that is not spayed or neutered follows a mating call. If your cat loves to be in the sun, most cats may wander outside to check out the balcony. Cats are also curious creatures, sometimes gravitating toward a less-than-safe situation.
Is My Cat Safe on a Balcony or Near a Window?
Felines should not be permitted out on balconies or near windows that are not secured. It is not safe for them because many things could go wrong. You do not want to endanger the life of your beloved pet, and there is a considerable risk involved in letting them go outside, period. Falling from a high place is the chief concern, but other perils may await them.
Your cat may not fall off the balcony or out the window, but there are a plethora of potential dangers for your cat if they are in an outside area. Your cat may be stung by a bee or could be become prey to other animals outside.
Additionally, keep them away from any plants or flowers that may be growing outside, as they could be toxic. Many other dangers may befall your feline companion. It is almost certainly best to keep your feline indoors. Make sure that if your cat is resting by a window, it is not open. Even with screens, it can be dangerous, as an excited cat could easily claw their way out.
Why Do Cats Habitually Land on Their Feet?
Cats have extraordinary reflexes that typically allow them to turn in the air, so they safely land on their feet. Oddly enough, they make use of their adorable little ears to stabilize and right themselves so they are not wounded from a fall. They also have a unique body structure that is muscular and agile. Their reflex responses tend to develop early in their life.
Cats do not have a collarbone, and the feline backbone is much stronger than a human one, which is how they often turn and flip their bodies in the air. However, other factors can influence their ability to land on their feet, such as age, health, weight, and distance from the fall.
What Can Happen if Cats Do Not Land on Their Feet?
A cat who falls from a balcony may survive if taken to the emergency vet immediately. However, they will likely have some injuries to contend with. The cat may suffer from the serious pelvis and head injuries.
A cat who falls from a place higher than a balcony may get into a position that allows them to impede the fall. Cats reach terminal velocity, which is the speed at which the upward push of wind resistance equals the downward pull of gravity, and at a slow speed compared to larger animals. Of course, survival is the main idea, but a cat can become seriously injured from a fall. Some injuries may include:
- Broken or injured legs
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Collapsed lung
- Shattered organs
- Broken pelvis
- Head trauma
Injuries to the head are the most detrimental. A cat with a concussion is a serious concern. If your cat falls off a balcony or out the window, they may be unconscious. Please do not assume they did not survive and get them to the emergency vet immediately.
Why Catios Are Awesome
A catio is an outside enclosure specially created for your cats and extends from your apartment or home. It can be large or small, contingent on the space available. Catios are fantastic because they are a protected way for your feline to take pleasure in the outdoors without worry of them falling.
A catio gives your cat a chance to bask in the soft glow of the warm sun and get some fresh air without fear of any harm coming to them. It also allows them to climb and perch from the high places you set up for them. It satisfies that instinct in them without sacrificing their safety. A catio is a pawsome idea for cats who need a safe place to play and express themselves.
High-rise syndrome can only occur if you allow your cat access to areas they can fall a great distance. You can avoid problems by keeping your cat indoors and building them the purrfect catio!
Do you have any further questions about your cat and feline high-rise syndrome? Lake City Animal Hospital in Lake City, FL is here to help! Call us at (386) 755-0236 or make an appointment online.