The cat and the highrise syndrome: what it is and how to avoid it for the cat

When we talk about skyscraper syndrome in cats, we are talking about an effect linked to the cat falling from a certain height.

Cats always fall on their feet, according to an old saying. But that’s not true, or at least not always. When a cat falls from an important height, in fact, it really risks getting hurt. And this is where the skyscraper syndrome comes into play.

What is cat skyscraper syndrome

When we talk about this syndrome, we mean those injuries that a cat can suffer after a fall from a higher height, at least 7-9 meters.

Cats love to be at the window, or on the balcony, to observe the world and what is around them from above. But it can be dangerous.

In fact, it can happen that a cat falls, and if we live on a high floor the cat can get very hurt.

But skyscraper syndrome can also be a problem if the cat falls off a wall, or a tree it had climbed on.

Cats are great hikers, they love heights and they know how to balance in a truly impressive way. But sometimes, they can also lose their balance.

This happens for example for a fright, such as when they hear a sudden loud noise. Or they may throw themselves at something that attracts them (a bird, perhaps).

And if they are very young and inexperienced, they may simply not be very good balancers yet. But in any case, the fall can be prevented by holding on to something.

But what if the cat fails to stop the fall, and falls tumbling to the ground?

The dangers of cat falls

As we said, it is not true that cats always fall without problems, but in fact they have a great ability not to get injured even from great heights.

The ability of cats to survive falls compared to dogs or humans has been known since the 1980s.

Not only that, even the reported injuries of cats were less severe if they fell from great heights, compared to those caused by lesser heights.

The “trick” lies in the landing: cats compensate for the fall very quickly, putting themselves in a position that allows them to land on their feet.

In fact, a cat in this position, with the limbs extended, reaches a limit speed starting from a height equal to the fifth floor of a building.

If the cat does not feel the acceleration, instead, it bends its paws, so as to cushion the energy of the fall during the slowing down phase. A bit like internal shock absorbers.

The potential injuries caused by a fall

After such a fall, a cat suffers a series of injuries which – as we said – are called skyscraper syndrome.

The most common involve the chest, head and muzzle, but sometimes also leg fractures, bleeding or even internal injuries.

Of course, it all depends on the height from which the cat fell and the landing position. Last but not least, if it has fallen on a soft or hard surface.

In any case, the best thing is to immediately run to the vet to check what happened, without moving the body too much to avoid doing other damage.

Some injuries are internal, or in any case not evident, and we may not notice even serious problems without the help of a specialist.

Never administer painkillers or human drugs to our cat : only the veterinarian will be able to advise us what to use to treat him.

After a fall, especially if from a high height, the cat may be in a state of shock, and need to be stabilized before even proceeding with the actual assessment.

The vet will then administer oxygen, fluids and pain relievers, as needed.

He or she will likely x-ray the cat to check for any fractures or bruises. An ultrasound, on the other hand, will rule out internal bleeding.

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