Cats love to perch at heights that make humans uncomfortable. Cat owners often find themselves wondering how a cat got so high in the first place. Cats need to get down from their positions of elevation safely.
The average feline will comfortably be able to jump around eight feet. Your pet may leap from the top of a closet to the ground. However, older and overweight cats will be at more risk. They are likely to cause damage to their joints if they make significant jumps.
The problem is that cats are unafraid of large jumps. This makes for natural daredevils, not stopping to consider the risk of potential injuries.
Can a Cat Jump from the Second Floor Safely?
Cats have powerful muscles in their back legs. They also use their tail to help with balance. This means that an average, healthy cat can jump around six times their length. That’s often around eight feet. Wondering how far a cat can fall without breaking their leg? This should answer your question.
If the second floor of your home is a similar height, your cat will land safely. If it’s a little higher, your cat will probably still attempt the jump. Felines are rarely afraid of jumping from a height. They may show a little more trepidation, though.
Whether they can do this without any risk of injury depends on the individual cat. A healthy adult will typically be fine. A kitten, whose bones are not yet fully formed, could be a little more brittle. This can be a problem, as kittens tend to be particularly fearless.
Older cats may also struggle, as their joints are less flexible. Overweight cats will also be at risk. The heavier a cat’s body mass, the greater the impact on their joints when they land.
What Height Can a Cat Survive Falling From?
Cats can survive falling from quite spectacular heights. This is according to a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. This study reviewed 132 cats, who fell from an average height of 5.5 stories. According to the study, just two-thirds of these cats required medical attention. Only a third would have died without this intervention.
Naturally, surviving does not mean that the cats were not injured. They may have been very badly hurt, to the point that their lives changed forever. The study also only reviewed cats that were seen by vets. There may have been incidents that resulted in an immediate fatality.
Equally, some reports claim that cats have fallen from 26 stories without a scratch. A lot will have depended on where the cats landed. The grass is much softer than asphalt or concrete.
Why would a cat fall from such a height? Well, we have all heard the saying, “curiosity killed the cat.” A feline that sees an opportunity for adventure will often seize it without all four paws. They’re especially likely to become distracted if chasing a bird or squirrel.
Overall, cats are sturdy animals. All the same, their fearless approach to heights should not necessarily be encouraged. Always take a safety-first approach to your cat and heights. Felines cannot always be trusted to make the best decisions when judging the safety of a leap.
How to Tell if a Cat is Injured After a Fall
We have mentioned limping. What other signs are there that your cat has been hurt by a fall, though?
Cats can be frustratingly independent and stubborn when injured. They will not feel comfortable letting on that they are in pain. As a result, cats rarely seek help from a human.
You’ll have to be vigilant about looking out for any of these warning signs:
- Refusing to place any weight on a particular leg
- Reluctance to move in general
- No interest in play
- Not eating, drinking or grooming themselves
- Uncharacteristic aggression
- Swelling and bruising, or visible bone protrusions
- Vocal expressions, such as meowing and howling. If these start, or magnify, when you touch your cat, they are almost certainly hurt.
- Losing consciousness
- Lack of orientation and uncharacteristic clumsiness
If you have any reason to believe that your cat is in pain following a fall, see a vet. The first couple of hours may be critical. If your cat has a broken leg, failing to get it seen could have dire consequences. Head and spinal injuries are also extremely dangerous.
My Cat Fell Off the Balcony and is Limping
A limp is a clear and pronounced warning sign that your cat has injured themselves. You should see a vet as soon as the incident occurs. Limping usually suggests a soft tissue injury. This means that your cat may have sprained a leg muscle. If they seem reluctant to use the leg, however, it could even be broken.
There is every chance that your cat will be fine. They may need to ‘walk it off,’ and will be back to normal in an hour. There is nothing to gain by taking any chances, though. You’ll feel terrible if your vet says they could have helped if you’d only acted faster.
What Other Injuries Cats Incur from Falling?
It’s not just broken limbs that could result from a cat falling from a height. A complete cat fall injury list would include:
- Internal or external sprains
- Internal bleeding or bruising
- Collapsed lungs
- Nerve damage
- Slipped discs, or other back problems
Shock is also a possibility, and can be very dangerous to felines. Remember always to be vigilant about observing your cat after a fall. If you have any doubts at all, speak to a vet. Not every symptom will manifest itself immediately.
How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Heal from a Leg Break?
Recovery depends on numerous circumstances. How bad was the break? How old is your cat? Was there any other injury?
Cats are sturdy little animals. Most felines will recover from a leg break within six weeks, given the appropriate care. Just prepare yourself for a challenging time during this recovery, however. Your cat will likely be frustrated by their immobility, and want to run, jump and climb.
You may need to keep your cat in a crate while they recover. If that isn’t an option, restrict them to one room and remove any tempting obstacles. An Elizabethan Collar may also speed up your cat’s recovery. They’ll feel silly wearing the plastic cone, but it will stop them from aggravating the injured area. It will also restrict their ability to move around.
In some rare cases, you may need to prepare yourself for the amputation of your cat’s limb. This is usually a last resort, if a leg is shattered beyond repair. This becomes more likely if a broken leg is not treated immediately. A cat’s natural grace and balance mean they can usually adapt to life on three legs. It’s always better to avoid getting to this point, though. Never sleep on a potential falling injury in your cat.
How Do I Know if My Cat is in Shock After a Fall?
Shock can be a silent killer in cats. Symptoms of shock include:
- Very cold extremities, such as the ears and paws.
- Trouble breathing.
- Weak pulse.
- Constant staring with dilated pupils.
- Pale gums.
- Seizures, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.
If you think that your cat may be in shock, get them to a vet immediately. Shock is usually a result of internal bleeding, and they will need help. While you’re waiting to be seen, wrap your cat in a blanket to keep them warm. Gently massaging their muscles and legs will also help circulation. Avoid any body parts that you feel may be broken or sprained, though.
Are Cats Afraid of Heights?
Cats have no innate fear of heights. In fact, they often actively seek them out. Have you ever found your feline perching atop a wardrobe? It may look like a precarious position to us, but your cat finds it peaceful.
Like many domestic cat behaviors, this stems from cat’s ancestry as wild animals. Cats climb to survey their terrain, but many cats get stuck in trees. This gave them a better idea of where prey may be located. They also greatly enhanced their opportunities to hunt birds this way.
Cats have never shaken off their instinctive love of tall and high spaces. It’s the one danger that does not spark their keen survival instincts. If you keep a cat in your home, offer them plenty of comfortable places to perch. Cats that can safely climb in the home are less likely to do so outside. This, in turn, is less likely to place them in dangerous situations.
Why Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?
Cats have a unique ability to make the scariest-looking fall into a graceful landing. This is how the legend that cats always land on their feet initially arose.
Happily, this isn’t entirely a myth. Cats do have an instinctive ability to spread the impact of a landing over their four paws. As Live Science explains, this is called the righting reflex.
A cat’s reflexes are what keep them alive when they fall. First, their instincts tell them to turn over. This is so they can spread their legs to distribute their weight evenly. As cats are very light, they can almost neutralize gravity. This means they will fall at a much slower rate, as though attached to a parachute. These instincts kick in as early as seven weeks into a cat’s life.
Eventually, the cat will land. They will have had to ensure that any impact is absorbed. In some respects, this makes falls from greater heights safer for cats than middling distances. The higher they begin their descent, the more time a cat has to assume the safest landing position. Naturally, they will still need a soft surface to land on to stay safe, though. Tumbling from a tenth-floor apartment to pavement can cause serious injury to a cat.
How to Keep a Cat Safe in a High-Rise Apartment
Just because a cat can avoid critical injury from falling, it doesn’t mean they always will. If you live in an apartment, your cat is likely to be an indoor cat anyway.
All the same, you owe it to your cat to keep them safe. The easiest way if doing this is to keep your windows closed and locked. Cats tend not to be too fearful about falling, largely because of their righting reflex. This means that birds or squirrels at a window may distract a cat.
If they think there the slightest chance of capturing such critters, feline instinct will kick in. If the window is open, your pet will pounce and possibly take an involuntary tumble. Vets have coined a term, High-Rise Syndrome, as so many cats fall from apartments during summer.
If you want to open your windows for ventilation, take a few safety precautions. Move any furniture out of the way of the window. If your cat can use a sofa, chair or cabinet as a stepping stool, they will. If you have a balcony, your cat may also enjoy spending time there.
In such a case, consider applying some netting to the balcony for safety. Cat-proofing a high-rise apartment is very similar to baby-proofing it. Just bear in mind that felines can squeeze through considerably smaller spaces. They can also be frustrating determined to do so.
Cats are adept at enduring high falls and escaping unscathed. They may terrify us, but felines have no fear of heights – or falling. They relish the opportunity to observe their empire from a place of elevation. This means that the burden of safety will fall on your shoulders.
You will never rid your cat of their inherent love of heights, and neither should you try. Just do whatever you can to ensure your pet does not hurt themselves if they fall. If you have any reason to believe that your cat is injured, speak to a vet. Prevention is always better than cure, though. If you can take steps to prevent your cat from leaping off a balcony, do so.