top of page


Picture of a cat on a tree

Cats are famously agile. When they fall, their automatic response is to flip mid-air and spread their legs so that they can absorb the impact on landing. However, cats in high-level apartment buildings occasionally fall from great heights and suffer injury. These instances happen often enough to be recognized by the veterinary community as feline high-rise syndrome.

How cats fall Despite their innate ability to land on their feet, a cat can be injured if it falls far enough, and sometimes even not far enough. In fact, when a cat falls from a shorter distance, it has less time to achieve that lifesaving twist and spread that slows its velocity before impact. Although cats are unlikely to jump from a great height unless they expect to land safely, they sometimes lose footing. Cats can focus intently on a bird or some fast-moving object and, in effect, forget themselves. If your cat is in a precarious perch like a window ledge, a slight disturbance may startle and cause your little pal to lose balance. High rise syndrome injuries Most cats survive high-rise syndrome. Most injuries due to falling occur from impact to the cat’s ventrum, or underside, affecting the lungs, breastbone and ribs. The fall may also cause harm to the lower part of the cat’s head, potentially damaging the jaw or the palate. Internal injuries and bleeding may also occur. If your cat falls from a great height, it may be startled and flee to a hiding place. When you approach it, do so slowly and use caution when checking for injuries. Your cat may be knocked unconscious; don’t assume it didn’t survive if you find it unresponsive. Preventing high rise syndrome If your cat is at risk of falling from an upper level in your house or apartment building, the obvious solution is to keep all windows and doors closed. But this level of protection may not be practical. If you need to keep windows and doors open, install sturdy screens to withstand pressure from winds – and your cat’s natural curiosity. If you have access to an outdoor space on your balcony or in a yard, a screen enclosure will let your cat enjoy the outdoors with minimal risk. Emergency vet clinic in Scarborough If your cat suffers a fall, don’t panic. The caring staff at Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital are here to help for emergency veterinary care. With years of experience in pet surgery, we’re equipped with the latest pet X-ray and ultrasound technology in Toronto. If your cat is in distress, don’t hesitate. Contact us today.

bottom of page