Wednesday, May 25, 2011

OHS Warns Cat Owners About High-Rise Syndrome

The Ottawa Humane Society wants to remind cat owners about the dangers of allowing cats access to apartment balconies, terrace windows or open windows.

"In the spring and summer we see an increase in the number of cats that are injured or have died due to a fall," says Bruce Roney, Executive Director, Ottawa Humane Society. "Cats lose their balance and they fall and unfortunately, they do sustain serious injuries."

Veterinarians call this type of injury 'high-rise syndrome'. While 'high rise syndrome' is primarily a problem for city cats, even suburban and country cat owners need to take heed. Although cats usually land on their feet, their injuries depend on the kind of surface they land on and the distance of the fall. It is a myth that cats always land on their feet.

Cats appear to like to perch in dangerous, high places and have little fear of heights. Many owners believe that cats will not fall. But they do fall, thousands of them each year from balconies, open windows and rooftops. Sometimes a cat that has been watching a bird will become so focused, he/she may step out into thin air.

"The precautions against 'high-rise syndrome' for cat owners is quite easy," says Mr. Roney. "Firstly, do not allow your cat free access to balconies. If you do want the cat to have access to the outside ensure that it is supervised and provide a comfortable body harness and leash that is held by the owner as this is the best protection against any falls," adds Mr. Roney.

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