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WARNING: Prevent High Rise Syndrome This Summer!

I am absolutely loving these warmer days. The sun is out longer so there's more to do with the family. It also unfortunately means more cat cases of High-Rise Syndrome.

This article is a warning so you can be vigilant, do not let your cat fall victim to HRS.

In the warmer months it is inevitable that we’re going to open our windows to let that nice breeze in. This does inadvertently lead to veterinarians seeing one or two cases a week of cats falling from these open windows. It started occurring so much that veterinarians gave it the name ‘High-Rise Syndrome’.

Therefore High-Rise Syndrome refers to the injuries that cats sustain when they fall from heights such as the second-floor landing, balcony, window etc.

It is horrible to think that your cat can hurt themselves like this. No one does it intentionally, nor do we think it is possible that cats can fall from places like this. We think this because it is natural for cats to sit in high places, on the windowsills to watch the birds and bask in the sun.

Cats do have an incredible ability to focus in on their target and this is ironically the danger. They may be distracted on what’s going on around them because of the thing outside that has caught their attention. Hence, if something scares them like a hoover or a sudden noise it may cause them to lose their balance, also if they think they might be able to catch a bird that suddenly flies past then they might go for a swipe and if the window is open then that can be a recipe for disaster.

The cats that tend to fall are also under two years old and / or have not been neutered. The jealous behaviour of a cat may override some other instincts and cause this distraction, also age comes with experience so it is unlikely that an older cat will fall.

Again, they don’t fear high places so we have the misconception that they would be OK, they would be OK if they were on a tree or out in the wild however, their claws cannot cling onto window ledges or brick and this is where the danger lies.

There is surprisingly a higher risk of danger if they fall from shorter distances. This is because they do not have the time to adjust their body posture correctly to absorb the impact of the fall.

God forbid if your cat does fall, then do not assume he hasn’t survived the fall, chances are he has and is now injured, or scared and certainly traumatised; to make it worse he is now in an environment he doesn’t know i.e. the sidewalks or high street. So rush to get him and wrap him up in a towel and take him to the closest animal hospital or veterinarian.

The good news is that there is a 90% survival rate for high-rise victim cats if they receive immediate and proper medical attention.

The best way to prevent High-Rise Syndrome is by... preventing. Here are a few tips you can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen to your cat:

  • Always supervise your cat on a balcony or terrace. Don’t let them out there by themselves and bring them in when you go inside.

  • Check all window screens in the house to make sure they are properly installed and secure. Cats can fall through if they lean up against a loose screen.

  • Consider putting screens in windows that don’t currently have them. If that’s not possible, keep those windows closed.

  • Avoid opening windows without screens. Remember cats have a way of getting through tight spaces, especially when something grabs their attention. Even if you only open the window a few inches, your cat could still slip out and fall.

  • Cats can also get out through ironwork, bars, or wood slats on balconies or terraces that have large gaps. You can cover these gaps with deck netting or wire mesh to help keep your cat safe.

  • Place couches, and tables far enough away from terrace or balcony railings so your cat can’t use them to climb up and accidentally fall off.

  • Don’t rely on childproof window guards since cats can slip through them.

  • Close all windows before playing games like fetch or chase with your cat. Your feline friend might be so focused on the game that they don’t notice an open window and fall right out.

  • Spay or neuter your cat so they won’t be tempted to escape through an open window or other high spots to search for a mate.



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