Many pet parents live in condos and apartment buildings and for those of us without the luxury of air conditioning, we rely on open windows and balcony doors to help keep us cool during the hot summer nights. You may, however, be putting your pets at risk. Unscreened windows and doors pose a real danger to dogs and, more often, cats, as they can fall out of them. There is a term that has been recently associated with this: High-Rise Syndrome. It’s more common than you think. Veterinarians see cases on a weekly basis whereby the family pets have fallen from an open window or from the balcony. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises, and even death.
Cats have excellent survival instincts, and they don’t deliberately “jump” from high places that would be dangerous. Cats have an incredible ability to focus their attention on whatever interests them. However, they can become so distracted by a bird or another animal that they lose their balance and fall. And that’s where the “High-Rise Syndrome” applies – when cats fall accidentally from high-rise windows, terraces or fire escapes.
- People often assume that cats can take care of themselves since they seem to have little fear of heights and enjoy perching in high places. However, even though cats can cling to the bark of trees with their claws, it`s much more difficult for them to cling to surfaces like window ledges, concrete or brick.
- Cats don’t land squarely on their feet when they fall from a high place. They land with their feet slightly splayed apart, which can cause severe head and pelvis injuries.
- It’s a misconception that cats can’t be injured when they fall from one- or two-story buildings. Cats may actually be at greater risk for injury when falling a shorter distance than falling a longer distance. Shorter distances do not give them enough time to adjust their body posture to fall
- When cats fall from high-rise buildings, they may end up on sidewalks or streets that are dangerous and unfamiliar to them. Never assume that the animal has not survived the fall; immediately rush the animal to the nearest animal hospital or to your veterinarian. There is a 90% survival rate for cats who are high-rise victims if they receive immediate and proper medical attention.
High-Rise Syndrome is 100-Percent Preventable. We recommend that you do the following to keep your pets safe this summer:
- Install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.
- Make sure that adjustable screens are tightly wedged into window frames.
- Cats can slip through childproof window guards so please do not assume that they provide adequate protection.
And finally, if you have a cat (or multiple cats) you may want to keep them indoors to protect them from additional dangers such as cars, other animals and disease. Purchase full-screen enclosures for backyards and terraces if you want to provide your cats with outdoor stimulation.
Always know where your pets are in the house when you’re home. Just as you would do when you have children in your home, know where your pets are at all times so that you can keep them safe.