Cats' apparent fearlessness concerning heights leads to many accidental falls. In fact so many cats are brought to veterinarians for treatment after a fall, that in 1976 Dr. Gordon Robinson coined the term feline high-rise syndrome to describe the resulting pattern of injuries. Eleven years later Drs. Wayne Whitney and Cheryl Mehlhaff at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan conducted a study over a five month period on cats brought in for treatment after a fall. They compiled a database of 115 cats who fell a range of two to thirty-two stories, primarily ending their falls on concrete pavement. The mean fall was 5.5 stories. Three of the cats were dead upon arrival and 8 more died in the next twenty-four hours, leaving 104 living cats or about 90%. This is a remarkable statistic.
When the height the cats fell is taken into account, it is found that only 5% of the cats who fell seven to thirty-two stories died, while 10% of the cats died who fell from two to six stories. The survival rate doubling as the height increases can be accounted for by the effects of terminal velocity.
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