Many of us may think that cats have nine lives and will always land on all fours with no injuries. Unfortunately, in most cases, this is not the reality.

High-Rise Syndrome, as it’s known, is a collective term for the injuries sustained from cats due to falling from certain heights such as from a balcony, a window, or a roof.

Cats gravitate to these ledges for different reasons e.g., for fresh air or to observe moving nature such as birds or flies. In instances where they quickly react to moving prey or suddenly become startled by a loud noise, they can fall out and injure themselves. It is also more common for cats that are not neutered to venture out exploring, especially during mating seasons. This increases the likelihood of them falling from heights.

Some of the most common injuries seen from these high falls involve fractures to different parts of the cat’s body, internal damage to organs, and in some cases, rapid death. Depending on the severity of the injuries caused by the fall, animals have a varying set of treatments.

We advise “cat-proofing” one’s house upon adoption of one or more cats. This involves sealing open areas with enforced, fine mesh or completely closing certain sections of the house that your cat has access to. Contacting carpenters or building management can allow one to set up either temporary or permanent reinforcement to the home to prevent such injuries. We suggest temporary options for those renting out homes as landlords would be more amenable to the idea.

If your cat has the unfortunate fate of falling from a height, please phone a registered veterinarian immediately as these cases are immensely urgent and require intervention as soon as possible.

The later an examination is done to assess the injury severity, the lower the chance of a complete recovery. Most cats tend to survive the falls, but it is a long, slow, and very expensive road to recovery. A good professional relationship with a veterinarian is recommended through easier journeys such as puppy/kitten vaccinations and routine check-ups as they will be easier to reach in the case of emergencies.

Dogs are unfortunately not exempt from this syndrome either. As they are largely different in personality from cats, they can still fall from a height if able to access high, open areas. Therefore, they need close supervision or “pet-proofing” of danger areas too.

Article by Dr. Tiffany Kungu



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