Cat Survives 19-Story Fall
Fortunate feline lives through dramatic high-rise accident.
Sugar, the cat, survived a 19-story fall from a downtown Boston high rise, according to Jennifer Wooliscroft, spokeswoman for the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
The little white cat's amazing adventure may sound like an urban legend, but she's not the first pet to demonstrate the dangers of leaving the windows open.
In 2009, Lucky, then a 3-year-old Bengal tabby, fell from a 26th floor balcony in New York City. His drop was captured on video by a window-washing crew across the street from his Liberty Drive apartment.
Lucky landed without a scratch and was later able to make an appearance on Good Morning America.
Sugar's owner, Brittney Kirk, is sharing her story to help prevent accidents by reminding pet owners to stay vigilant about open windows, especially with the warm weather here.
Pets fall out unscreened windows so "regularly," Dr. Alett Mekler said, "the veterinary profession has named the problem 'High Rise Syndrome.'"
Serious head and pelvis injuries often are the result.
"When pets fall from high places, they don't land squarely on their feet," Mekler said. "Instead, they land with their feet splayed apart." With cats, falling shorter distances can be more dangerous than the long drops because the animal doesn't have time to adjust its body for the optimal landing.
High rise syndrome is preventable, Mekler said, if people will install secure window screens and exercise care about leaving pets home alone. Dogs that are fearful about thunder or fireworks should be "treated for their anxiety and securely housed when left alone," Mekler said. If an animal does fall out a window, the owner must find it right away and rush it to a veterinarian.
"Don't assume that the animal has not survived the fall," Mekler said.
"I was always very careful about my windows," Kirk said. But that morning of March 21, a house guest was staying in the apartment. The guest opened the window about five inches and did not notice when Sugar fell out.
Kirk was at work when Sugar landed in the street behind the apartment building.
The impact bruised Sugar's lungs, but she was otherwise uninjured, Wooliscroft said, probably because on the way down Sugar splayed her feet like a flying squirrel and slowed down her body's momentum.
Also a factor, Kirk said, when Sugar fell, a neighbor happened to be standing by her window and saw something white fluttering down. The woman suspected someone had tossed litter out the window, and she called the concierge to complain.
The concierge went out to check, found the cat and called for help, Kirk said.
"Sugar was on the ground with her arms all spread out," Kirk said, according to the concierge's description. She happened to land on a small square of mulch, Kirk said. The area was otherwise surrounded by concrete; and if the cat had missed the soft landing by a foot or so, the outcome might not have been so lucky, she said.
Sugar did run away when the concierge approached her, but she didn't go far.
"Sugar ran into the front lobby and hid under a couch," Kirk said. That's where the Animal Rescue League people found her.
The story could have ended very differently, if Sugar had been lost after her fall, Kirk said.
"My cat is deaf, and she's never even been outside," Kirk said, and she could have been killed in traffic. "Storrow Drive is right next to my building, she said.
But the Animal Rescue League responded and rushed Sugar to Boston Veterinary Care where Dr. Hugh Davis checked her out, Wooliscroft said. During the exam, the veterinarian found the microchip identifying her owner.
Kirk received a message from the Boston Animal Rescue League, advising her that her cat was at their hospital.
"I never thought this could happen," Kirk said.
Sugar came home a "little dazed" and had to stay on antibiotics for a few days, Kirk said, but she has since made a complete recovery.
"She's back to her old mischievous ways," Kirk said, but with one exception. She's not allowed anywhere near a window.
"I'm not taking any chances ever again," Kirk said.
How to Help: The Animal Rescue League of Boston accepts donations online or by mail addressed to Advancement Department, Animal Rescue League of Boston, 10 Chandler St., Boston, MA 02116. Donations are tax deductible.
Pictured: Sugar the cat survived a 19-story fall from a Boston high rise. (Photo Courtesy of Brittney Kirk)
What do you think of the stories of these cats? How would you keep pets safe in high buildings? Tell us below!
2 years ago
I would only have window's open if they had screens but I am scarred of hieghts so I don't think I would and cats are usaully more likely to survive when they fall from higher up cause they have time to turn over to land on their feet but lower to the ground they may not survive or they may get hurt worse.
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