Many people have heard the recent news story about the Boston cat that, incredibly, survived a nearly 200-foot fall from her 19th floor apartment last week. Other than some minor bruising to her lungs, the white cat named Sugar is okay. How in the world did Sugar survive a fall from such a great height? There are several factors that contributed to Sugar’s good luck.
Most importantly, studies have shown that cats are actually more likely to survive a fall from a great height than a fall from a lower height. At heights greater than about 9 stories, cats have time to relax, orient themselves and form a “flying squirrel” shape, which slows down their rate of descent much like a parachute. As long as cats receive prompt veterinary care after the fall, as many as 90% of cats survive falling from two to thirty-two stories. While cats have a “righting reflex,” when they fall from lower heights, they often do not have time to orient themselves to fall and land in an optimal position.
Luckily for Sugar, in an area covered in concrete, she ended up landing in a small patch of soft mulch. Additionally, Sugar had a microchip which helped her be reunited with her owner after the fall.
Warmer weather is on the way, when many pet parents open windows. While Sugar was lucky, falls can result in serious injuries to your pet such as broken limbs or jaws, and head and pelvis injuries. To prevent what could be a tragic accident, ensure that any windows you open are securely screened.