Pawesome is heartbroken to report that Levi, last week’s Hello My Name Is…, passed away after falling out of a 9th story window. Levi was only a year old. This type of tragedy is all too common in metropolitan areas where pet owners live in tall apartment complexes. It’s so common, in fact, that it has a name, “High-Rise Syndrome.”
While cats naturally dig heights, they avoid falling for the most part because of their keen awareness of their surroundings, plus their impressive ability to balance on just about anything. When they do fall, it’s usually because they’ve become distracted by potential prey or have fallen asleep and lost their balance. If they fall out of tree, they may be able to latch onto the bark on their way down and save themselves, but buildings don’t have anything for claws to grab onto. If they can’t grab onto anything, they then need to rely on their ability to flip over onto all fours. And this is where things get weird.
One would assume that the closer a cat is to the ground, the safer they are if they fall. That’s not the case. Research has found that cats are much more likely to sustain life threatening injuries if they fall between two and six stories in comparison to falling from more than six stories. Why is this?
Shorter distances don’t give them enough time to right themselves in order to land on all fours. Cats need about 3 stories to properly right themselves, but even that’s not enough to ensure a safe landing. According to the ASPCA, once cats reach the ground they tend to “land with their feet slightly splayed apart, which can cause severe head and pelvis injuries.”
How to prevent High-Rise Syndrome
- Keep windows closed.
- If you plan on opening windows, install a sturdy screen in any window you plan to keep open.
- Avoid cheap screens you simply wedge into the window as cats can knock these out. Instead install permanent screens on the outside of your window frames.
- Cats can slip through childproof window guards, so don’t rely on these to keep your pets safe.
- Don’t let cats out onto balconies, where they can easily fit through bars or jump atop the barrier banister.
While cats are more prone to falling victim to High-Rise Syndrome, all animals are at risk. Keep your pets safe by ensuring they have no way of falling out your windows; whether you’re on the 2nd floor or the 52nd floor.