Kitten survives 13-story fall

WASHINGTON — In true cat fashion, Brennan, a 7-month-old kitten in Minnesota, is “acting like nothing much happened to him” even though he survived a 13-story fall last week.

The hospital where Brennan is recuperating, says in a statement that Brennan found a way through the screen window of his 17th-story apartment when his owner, John Knuf, went grocery shopping last Friday night, the hospital says.

Brennan fell onto a fourth-story landing. When Knuf got home, he had to climbed onto a ledge above the injured cat to reach him.

“It hit me hard when I saw him,” Knuf told the hospital. “He’s my little man. He wasn’t moving at first so I picked him up and he started crying.”

Brennan suffered a dislocated hip and a broken shoulder; he went through surgery on Wednesday and is “doing great,” says Dr. Andrew Jackson, of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, of Eden Prairie, who performed the operation.

“He’s acting like nothing much happened to him,” says lead surgical veterinary technician Julie Syverson. “He’s a little miracle.”

Jackson says Brennan’s fall isn’t unusual — they even call the problem “high-rise syndrome.”

The hospital says Brennan actually caught a break by falling so many stories. The BBC explains that when a cat falls from a greater height (up to a point, of course), it has time to use what’s called its righting reflex, twisting in the air to land on its feet. Most cats also have a relatively low body weight compared with their size, which means they reach terminal velocity — the speed at which gravity is balanced by wind resistance — much quicker than, say, people or horses.

The hospital passes along tips to prevent pets from falling from windows:

  • Secure screens with screen guards.
  • Don’t leave pets on balconies unattended.
  • Keep patio furniture away from balcony railings and high patios.
  • Make sure windows are closed before throwing toys for your pets.
  • Never allow pets on a fire escape.

They add that if your pet does fall, be careful when approaching him or her: Animals in pain are more likely to bite. Wrap the pet in a towel and seek emergency medical care immediately.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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