Feline high-rise syndrome: 43 cases evaluated in the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro

  • Margarete Weinschutz Gheren
  • Amanda Chaves de Jesus
  • Raquel Sampaio Alves
  • Heloisa Justen Moreira de Souza
Keywords: high-rise syndrome, cats, Rio de Janeiro.


This study was done in a private veterinary clinic, specialized in cats in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro. We evaluated 43 cats diagnosed with high-rise syndrome from January 2010 to December 2012. The cats fell from the 2nd to the 12th floor. The average age of the cats was 2 years and 9 months and the average height of the fall was 4.6 meters. From the diagnosed cats 72.42% were mixed-breed and 60.47% were male. The falls happened at any time of the day and, although it was not statistically significant, they happened more frequently during the weekends when compared to the weekdays. The falls occurred in similar proportion throughout the year not being noticed a seasonal incidence as it happens in temperate climates. In 86.05% of the cases, the falls happened from homes where none of the windows had screens. And 13.95% of the falls happened from homes where all the windows had screens. The falls occurred from heights equivalent to up to the 6th floor in 35/43 of the cases and only 8/43 falls occurred from height equivalent to the 7th floor on. 41.86% of the cats had forelimb fractures; 30.23% had hindlimb fracture; 4.65% had forelimb and hindlimb luxation each; 2.33% had spine fracture and 9.30% had spine luxation; 4.65% had pelvic fracture; 6.98% had fracture of the symphysis; 6.98% had fracture of the mandible; 9.30% had luxation of the temporomandibular joint; 18.60% had hard palate fractures; 11.62% had tongue injury and 44.18% had facial injury. It was also observed epistaxis in 22.58% of the cases; shock in 6.97%; hypothermia in 11.62%; hypotension in 4.65%; dyspnea in 18.6%; thoracic trauma in 41.86%, being 38.88% pneumothorax and 61.11% pulmonary contusion. It was also diagnosed visceral injury in 6.98% of the cases. From the 43 diagnosed cats, 51.16 had emergency treatment and 44.19% had non-emergency treatment. Six cats died. From these six, two (4.65% arrived dead. We can conclude that young cats are more liable to the risk of falling and the falls can occur at any time. As we live in a tropical climate where the temperatures don´t vary much throughout the year, a seasonal incidence is not related to the falls. In high-rise syndrome fractures and facial injury are frequently noticed, however, we must be aware to identify pulmonary trauma because when they are not properly treated, they can be the cause of death as well as visceral injury.