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All About Feline High-Rise Syndrome


Ever hear a story in the news about a cat that falls from a window in a 20 story apartment building and survives? Then you’ve heard about something called feline high-rise syndrome. Veterinarians in New York City began using the term back in the 1980s to describe the nature of injuries sustained by cats that fall from windows 2 floors or more above the street.


When urban apartment dwellers open their windows in the warm weather, their cats climb into the windows to get some fresh air or do a little bird watching. If window screens are loose or missing, cats are at risk of falling out of the window onto the street below.


Feline high-rise syndrome is characterized by a particular set of injuries. Even if a cat lands on his feet and survives the fall, it is likely that the cat will sustain some significant injuries when he hits the ground. These include: bruised heart and lungs, fractures of the lower jaw and roof of the mouth, rib and leg fractures, ruptured bladder, and internal bleeding.


A cat that has fallen from a high floor requires immediate veterinary attention. Cats may need to be in the hospital for several days, and require treatment for broken bones and teeth, as well as oxygen for chest trauma.


What can you do to prevent your cat from falling out of the window? Here are some common sense tips:

  • Install new screens on any windows missing them, and make sure existing screens are strong and secure.
  • Open the top of the window instead of the bottom if possible.
  • Close all windows before you leave the apartment.
  • Don’t let your cat out onto the balcony or fire escape, even when you’re with him.
  • Remember that a cat can fit through a space as small as its head, so even windows open a few inches can be dangerous.



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