What Is the Cat High-Rise Syndrome?

It’s about the impetus of the felines that makes them trust that they’ll always reach the place they've chosen to jump on without a problem. The problem is that sometimes this doesn't happen, and the animal can suffer a serious fall, which can have irreversible consequences, such as major injuries or even death.
What Is the Cat High-Rise Syndrome?
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The cat high-rise syndrome is a major cause for visits to the vet. Despite being famous for their ability to land well, cats suffer daily from falls from various heights.

Some also call it the flying cat syndrome. Cats, for different reasons, jump into the air without measuring the true distance. When they have enough space, they turn in the air and lengthen their fall with less impact – hence the parachute effect.

The problem is when they jump from greater heights and the resulting hard impact. In these cases, they can suffer very serious injuries.

A jumping cat.

Factors at play in the cat high-rise syndrome

  • Age. Younger cats are more prone to these types of accidents. They aren’t experienced enough to jump. Moreover, their curiosity is one of their greatest weaknesses, and they can pursue any object or animal that catches their attention. The result is often that they don’t measure distances and often fall very badly.
  • “Teenage” male cats may be on heat. They often jump from windows to chase females. Similar to people, they’re very distracted during this period and don’t measure the risks.
  • Lack of sterilization. Cats that aren’t sterilized are often more daring and therefore prone to the cat high-rise syndrome. Their sexual instinct makes them go out in search of their mate every time they can escape. Usually, the places chosen for an escape are windows and balconies.

We need to remember that, in order to analyze cat high-rise syndrome, the gender isn’t decisive. Both males and females can suffer from it without distinction. Every day, various felines that have fallen from great heights come to the veterinary emergency room. Some of them can be saved, but others, unfortunately, die due to injuries.

Is the cat high-rise syndrome curable?

The answer is no, even if the animal matures and gains more experience in its jumps. But the truth is that it’ll repeat this type of action as soon as it has the chance. Injury and suffering can’t prevent a new jump.

A cat jumping.

Sterilizing the cat may be a way to somewhat lessen the temptation to escape the next time. However, it’s not a final solution, because if they still have the instinct, they’ll do it again.

Preventing the cat high-rise syndrome

Knowing that there’s no cure and that the consequences can lead to death, the important thing is prevention.

  • Sterilize the cat. This allows the animal to not want to escape so much; thus, the probability of it running away in search of a mate will be lower.
  • Adopt a companion. Bringing home another cat of the same or different sex is a great option. It will be company for it spend time with, keeps it entertained, and also away from danger. Rather than jumping in search of another animal, it’ll choose its friend at home.
  • Interactive games. It also helps to provide the cat with games that make it feel important and catch its attention.
  • Keep them out of danger zones. We must keep our feline pets away from dangerous openings from where they can fall; curiosity is very strong in cats.
  • Adapt windows and balconies. In big cities, it may be impossible to keep cats away from heights. For this reason, it’s best to cover these places with mosquito nets so that they can’t get through. This way, they’ll be able to observe everything they want without the risk of an accident.

First aid

If, despite everything, an accident occurs, action must be taken immediately. First of all, we mustn’t panic and keep a cool head so that we can take the necessary measures.

A pet suffering from cat high-rise syndrome.

Actually, we owners can’t do much as regards first aid. But some minimal actions may be a life-or-death situation for the cat.

If the fall was from an intermediate height and no external injuries are seen, a vet should be called to do a check-up. Internal injuries can lead to serious consequences later on.

If there are external injuries or the pet doesn’t move, call an emergency vet and don’t move the animal. Being at its side, while the help of a professional arrives, will help the animal to keep calm.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.