Its common knowledge that cats love to climb because they love heights. They are hunting machines with the skills and instincts for ultimate survival.
The problem is that while they have all the tools they need to be ultimate hunters, they aren’t as efficient at using them as we think. This means that many times cats end up in pretty sticky situations like the good old story about the cat stuck in the tree.
This is the start to cat high rise syndrome. The good thing is, this potentially deadly disorder can be easily avoided and I’ll be showing you how to later on in this post but first, let’s learn a little more about it.
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The interesting thing about cat high rise syndrome is that its not an actual illness like one might think, or at least I did when I first heard about it. I thought it was going to be something more along the lines of being afraid of heights but that’s not what this is at all.
With the introduction to buildings into our world, cats have not been able to adapt to climbing on different materials like metal, concrete, siding, stone and other materials that building walls are made of.
Despite their inability to climb on these materials, their instinct to find the highest vantage point rules. To cats, buildings are ‘the best thing EVER!’ for lack of a better phrase because it gives them a real-life bird’s eye view of the area.
Intro To Cat High Rise Syndrome
Once cats climb on top of buildings and other high rise structures (antennae, water towers, etc.) they either get stuck or find it difficult to climb down. This is because going against gravity is much easier than going with gravity.
Think about walking up and down a steep hill. The resistance going up the hill makes it easier to walk up the hill.
Walking down the steep hill is more difficult. You will probably stumble and trip more often during your descent than your incline.
Its the same with cats climbing just that they’re not able to recover from the slip so they fall instead. As you can imagine, this is very dangerous for cats, however, their reflexive instincts may help them more than if you or I fell from these heights.
How Far Can A Cat Fall Without Injury
This is a tricky question to answer because it totally depends on the cat. While cats are well known for landing on their feet, many can still get injuries from falling out of a tree or about 2 stories high.
Cats have a natural instinct to orient themselves in an upright position during a fall and orienting their bodies to absorb the impact of a fall. Growing up they used to always say that cats can survive falls from any height.
This statement is still hotly debated. Some studies indicate that cats are more likely to survive higher falls because they have time to right themselves and use their body as sort of a parachute that slows their fall. Others suggest that this is complete nonsense.
Whichever side you choose, you should be aware that your cat can survive high falls but that doesn’t mean it won’t be without serious injuries. If your cat does fall from a high rise, don’t assume that it is dead.
Some studies suggest that a cat can fear better falling from higher than 32 stories than it can falling lower than 32 stories. This is up in the air because the study also reported that if the cat was dead after falling from these heights, people were probably less likely to report it.
It does make sense if you consider how cats fall. They use their bodies as parachutes which slows their decent dramatically compared to free-falling.
The best thing to do is ensure your cat is safe if you live in a high rise apartment. You can also see how letting your cat roam around can be a bad idea especially if you live in big cities.
I’ll talk later about your options, but for now, let’s stay on topic and continue discussing cat high rise syndrome.
Impact of High Rise Syndrome In Cats
You might assume that a cat will die when falling from great heights. If it were you or I that assumption is quite likely to happen but interestingly enough, its not the same for cats.
The saying that a cat can fall from any height bares some truth although it is not always the case. Don’t think that if your cat falls from a high place it will survive.
Thought patterns like this are very dangerous, however, if it happens make sure you rush the cat to the vet IMMEDIATELY. Don’t assume it is dead.
Cats suffering from high rise syndrome may experience a whole host of effects such as:
ruptured, bruised or collapsed lungs (most common cause of death)
broken legs (interestingly enough their legs are more commonly not broken since the impact is absorbed by their chest #physics ?)
broken jaws (more commonly broken than legs in these cases)
overextension of their carpus (kitty wrists)
ruptured or fracture spleen and/or liver
Again, if you find a cat that has fallen from a high place, take it to the vet. It may be dead but it may not be.
Studies suggest that 90 percent of cats that suffered from feline high rise syndrome and were taken to the vet right away survived the fall.
Why Does Cat High Rise Syndrome Occur?
High rise syndrome occurs in cats because they love heights. You might think “why aren’t they smart enough to know they shouldn’t be up there”.
But that’s you thinking like a human, not a cat. To them, being as high as they can is the best thing because it keeps them safe and also gives them the best vantage point for hunting.
Think about birds of prey. They don’t descend to hunt. They sore way up high in the sky to get that ‘birds eye view’ we so commonly talk about then descend to close in and kill their prey.
I think it’s entitled and rude of people (not necessarily you but I hear these sort of comments more than my ears want to) to call animals dumb for these sort of incidences when whether stray or housekept, cats are human responsibility. Humans took cats from their natural environments in the deserts and humans carelessly cast them out when they come up with whatever dumb excuse to throw them out.
Cats are not going to say, ‘Hmm, my claws aren’t suited to climb this concrete I better go to Lowe’s and get a pair of concrete climbing claw adjusting mitts.’
Instead, the cat is thinking, ‘I need to get up there to see the area and maybe take a nice cat nap right there in the stairwell cubby where nothing will find me.’
This might sound like a bit of a rant because it sort of is. Cats can’t go to the store and buy specialized equipment like we can and neither do they have the mental capacity and know how to create their own.
That’s why we’re people and taking over the world with our giant buildings instead of the cat. But they’re not cursing our names because we’re creating such unnatural structures…or maybe they are…
Another reason this condition is so prevalent is due to families who live in high rise apartment buildings and condos. Most people think it is safe to let their cats out on the balconies but as you now know, this is a very dangerous habit.
We have a better option for you if you have cats in a high rise building so keep reading to find out more.
What To Do If Your Cat Suffers From High Rise Syndrome
This part is redundant if you’ve read the whole article but I’m a realist and realize most people probably skim through, don’t read properly which means you likely could have missed it. That’s fine. I have no problem taking a few extra minutes out of my day for this section.
If you have a cat that has fallen from a high place, take it to the vet immediately. Don’t assume that it is dead.
Cats are likely to survive the fall but may succumb to injuries later. If you get the cat to the vet right away, they can give it the treatment it needs to survive.
Then make sure the cat doesn’t find itself in a place that’s hard for it to climb again! Even if you live in an apartment, create a better environment for your cat indoors so that you don’t have to let them climb on your balcony because it’s not safe for them.
Preventative Measures to Avoid Feline High Rise Syndrome
The good news about feline high rise syndrome is that it is fairly avoidable. At least if you have indoor cats.
All you need to do is create your cat’s ideal environment within the restraints of your home. How?
By feeding your cat’s instincts. Cats that suffer from high rise syndrome are fueled by the following impulses:
Now all this instinct stuff might make you feel like you’re in biology class, God forbid you hated it, but the solution to these problems is quite simple.
All you need to do is add some good cat climbing structures inside your home. In addition, if you have the space outside of your home, you can also install outdoor cat enclosures which come in many different sizes and styles.
Cat Climbing Structures
Cat climbing structures are awesome. They come in two main varieties:
Outdoor cat enclosures are awesome! They are basically what they sound like, fences specially designed to give your cat outdoor space.
Remember that they need to be fully closed up because cats can climb which is one of the main things that lead to cat high rise syndrome. There are also other specifications that you need to consider such as:
number of cats
where it will be installed (usually on a window)
These can be as small as a carrying cage or as big as you want it to be. Your cat will have a good time interacting with nature, getting fresh air and sunlight and fulfilling all its other cat needs as well.
If you want to learn more about outdoor cat enclosures, click the button below.
So you see, keeping your cat safe outdoors isn’t as hard as you may think. Always remember that an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.
Don’t overwhelm yourself and your checkbook by thinking that you have to install all of these things at once. While that would be pretty cool, installing one thing here and another thing there will add up just as well for your cat.
I hope that you have found all the information you need to know about cat high rise syndrome buuuutttt if not, please leave your questions and feedback in the comments box below. I’d also love it if you share your knowledge about cat high rise syndrome with our community as well.
Thanks for reading and I hope you share this with anyone who might find value in this information. Before you go, make sure that you subscribe to our newsletter where we give you all the tips you need to catify your home! Click the button below to get sub now and I’ll see you next time 🙂