A few facts about High Rise Syndrome:
•When a cat falls from a high perch it's unintentional, not deliberate. Cats are smart. They don't
leap from high places because they know it's dangerous.
•The reason cats fall is usually because they are intensely focused on something outside, perhaps
a bird, and either lose their balance or their prey instinct sends them out the window before
they realize what they're doing. Another cause of falls is normal muscle twitching and other
movement during deep sleep. A kitty can roll off a window sill while changing sleep positions.
•While cats won't intentionally jump from a high perch, they also don't realize they can't dig their
claws into brick, concrete or steel surfaces to help prevent a fall if they lose their balance.
•When a cat falls from a high perch, he doesn't land squarely on all fours. He lands with his feet
slightly apart, which is how serious head and pelvic injuries occur. And falling shorter distances
can actually be more dangerous, because kitty doesn't have enough time to adjust his body to
•Even if your kitty survives a fall in relatively good condition, she'll land in an unfamiliar, frightening
place on a sidewalk or street and can easily run away before you can get to her.
Fast Facts: Feline High-Rise Syndrome
- Cats have excellent survival instincts, and they don’t deliberately “jump” from high places that
would be dangerous. Most cats fall accidentally from high-rise windows, terraces or fire escapes.
- Cats have an incredible ability to focus their attention on whatever interests them. A bird or
other animal attraction can be distracting enough to cause them to lose their balance and fall.
- Because cats have little fear of heights and enjoy perching in high places, pet owners often
assume that they can take care of themselves. Although cats can cling to the bark of trees with
their claws, other surfaces are much more difficult, such as window ledges, concrete or brick
- When cats fall from high places, they don’t land squarely on their feet. Instead, they land with
their feet slightly splayed apart, which can cause severe head and pelvis injuries.
- It is a misconception that cats won’t be injured if they fall from one- or two-story buildings.
They may actually be at greater risk for injury when falling shorter distances than by falling from
mid-range or higher altitudes. Shorter distances do not give them enough time to adjust their
body posture to fall correctly.
- 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.
- There is a 90-percent survival rate for cats who are high-rise victims if they receive immediate
and proper medical attention.
High-Rise Syndrome is 100-Percent Preventable
To keep your cat safe during the summer, the ASPCA recommends that you take the following
- To fully protect your pets, you’ll need to install snug and sturdy screens in all your windows.
- If you have adjustable screens, please make sure that they are tightly wedged into window
- Note that cats can slip through childproof window guards—these don’t provide adequate
ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
When summer comes around, many pet
parents are eagerly opening their
windows to enjoy the weather.
Unfortunately, they are also unknowingly
putting their pets at risk. Unscreened
windows pose a real danger to cats, who
fall out of them so often that the
veterinary profession has a name for the
complaint—High-Rise Syndrome. During
the warmer months, veterinarians at the
ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital
see approximately three to five cases a
week. Falls can result in shattered jaws,
punctured lungs, broken limbs and
pelvises—and even death.
Pet parents residing in tall buildings often allow their cats to sun themselves in open windows and
on fire escapes, unaware that their felines' prey drive may lead them to pounce on moving birds or
insects. Tragically, falls often result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs—and even