During my internship at The Animal Medical Center in New York City, I was introduced to a condition in cats called ‘High-rise syndrome’. When people open their windows to enjoy the fresh air, some cats accidently fall to the sidewalks below. On the first nice day of spring, I remember the senior veterinarian saying, “It’s going to rain cats tonight.” An hour later, I saw my first high-rise syndrome cat. The orange tabby dropped 18 floors and lived to tell of it! He came into the clinic with blood pouring from his nose, a fractured leg and difficulty breathing. He went home a week later with a promise from his owner to purchase screens for their windows.
In 1987, Drs. Whitney and Mehlhaff, analyzed the medical records of cats brought to the Animal Medical Center with high-rise syndrome to determine what kind of injuries they sustained. Here are the findings:
-Lung contusions 68%
-Abnormal respiration 55%
-Limb fracture 39%
-Traumatic luxation 18%
-Hard palate fracture 17%
-Dental fractures 17%
Last week, I treated a kitten who fell 3 stories on to gravel. A good samaritan found her lying on her back crying. She was one of the lucky ones who survived the fall without any serious injuries.
Whitney, W.O., Mehlhaff, C.J. ‘High-rise Syndrome in Cats’ J. Am Vet Med Assoc. Dec. 1987; 191 (11):1399-403.