I know you have heard the saying “cats always land on their feet” but have you ever wondered why that is?
Contrary to popular belief, falling cats do not always land on their feet. In fact, every day cats sustain serious injuries from falling out of open windows, off balconies, and from rooftops. Cats do not fear heights and will often leap after a bird or out of a window only to find themselves falling through the air.
The trauma sustained from a fall of over two stories (24 to 30 feet) is known as high-rise-syndrome. High-rise syndrome is more common in built up areas. Studies done on cats that have fallen from 2 to 32 stories show that the overall survival rate is a surprising 90 percent. Strangely, cats that fall from a height under 6 stories have more severe trauma than those that fall from over 6 stories. One theory is that cats reach terminal velocity at about 5 stories, and at this point they relax, allowing a more distributed force of impact and less severe injuries. When cats land before reaching top speed, they are rigid and flexed and prepared for the landing. This results in most of the force impacting the parts of the body that hit initially. Read up on High-Rise-Sydrome for more information.
It's instinctive for both humans and animals to tense their muscles when free-falling, which makes them more susceptible to injury. When cats land before reaching top speed, they are rigid and flexed and prepared for the landing. This results in most of the force impacting the parts of the body that hit initially. However, after reaching terminal velocity, cats relax their muscles and spread themselves out like flying squirrels. This allows the impact of the fall to be spread across a larger surface area.
Your cat may be able to survive a fall – but, then again, he might not. You never know ... and prevention is better than a visit to your veterinary clinic.
*This information was gathered from Dr. Jon at www.petplace.com