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High-Rise Cats Survive Falls From Condos

February 17, 1989

MIAMI (AP) _ One small step for a cat can turn into a giant leap when the feline lives in a high-rise, but a surprising number of the animals survive such falls, veterinarians say.

Sheila Greenberg’s fluffy brown Himalayan two years ago took the plunge - a 300-foot fall down 24 floors at a condominium in the Miami area - and today is alive and well.

Baily suffered no fractures, according to Neil Tenzer, who treated the feline for an internal injury.

Sheldon Steinmetz, a North Miami Beach veterinarian, said split palates and broken jaws are common because the cats land on their feet and as their bodies hit, chins hit the ground.

Their survival also seems to have a lot to do with heavy landscaping and the ″terminal velocity″ factor. Because of their weight and shape, cats fall at a top speed of 60 miles per hour. Humans fall as fast as 120 mph.

″They’re pretty incredible creatures,″ Steinmetz said.

Veterinarian William Marks says the cats often take a leap because of taunting by birds.

″The cat’s out on the terrace,″ he said. ″There are birds out on the terrace. The cat leaps at the bird. The bird flies away. The cat keeps going.

″The cats are not that stupid,″ he added in their defense, ″but they are instinctive hunters.″

Studies have been done on cats with High Rise Syndrome. In a New York City study of 132 fallings cats, a mixed breed named Sabrina took the record by surviving a 32-story fall to a concrete sidewalk. She chipped a tooth.

Baily, who may have the local record in Miami, apparently was cushioned by trees when she fell. She was conscious and dazed, but quite alive, when her owner rushed downstairs.

″We decided the cat really may know how to fly,″ Ms. Greenberg said.

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