What's New Pussycat?

Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by StrangerInAStrangeLand, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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  5. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    Enriching Your Cat's Life

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    Free-ranging and feral cats lead complex and busy lives. They maintain large territories that often contain a variety of habitats (forest, farmland, urban gardens, etc.). They explore, they hunt, they scavenge for food, and they might interact with other cats. In contrast, household cats, especially those who live exclusively indoors, have little to do and boredom may set in.

    Even if you don’t think that your cat seems bored, there are a number of good reasons to provide enrichment opportunities for your feline friend:
    •Cats who lack enrichment can be aggressive in play, both with people and with other animals in the household.
    •Young cats without planned enrichment opportunities often pester their pet parents for play at inappropriate hours of the day and night. They may also interact destructively with furniture, plants or other objects in the house.
    •Cats lacking enrichment can become reclusive and are more likely to retreat from new people or objects that enter their homes than cats who are frequently exposed to a variety new sights and sounds.
    •Cats lacking regular play may be more attracted to perches by windows. When looking outside, they may overreact to the presence of outdoor cats they can see and become very distressed.

    Great Ways to Enrich Your Cat’s Life

    Enrichment opportunities can easily be provided for cats. Here are some ideas to try:
    •Provide a variety of toys for your cat. Some cats prefer toys that they can throw around themselves. Other cats prefer toys that require owner participation, such as those you wiggle and dangle. Stimulating play for a cat involves opportunities to “hunt,” so move toys in such a way that they mimic the movements of a rodent or bird. Introduce new toys periodically to keep your cat from becoming bored with her toys.
    •Provide objects for your cat to explore, such as cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, packing paper and toys that encourage her to investigate various holes with her paws. A dripping water tap can provide hours of fun! An aquarium with real fish or even a bowl of fake fish that move around can fascinate your cat. Rotate playtime objects frequently so that your cat doesn’t become bored.
    •Some cats appreciate the commercially available “cat videos.” The most popular ones contain close-ups of birds and small rodents. Many cats can watch the same videotape for hours each day, tracking the animals’ movements, growling or chirruping and swatting at the screen. Your cat might even enjoy watching a lava lamp! (Take care that she can’t burn herself if she touches the lamp.)
    •Cats love to watch birds, squirrels and other small animals. Position bird and squirrel feeders outside windows where your cat can observe animals coming and going during the day. If you live in an apartment, you can attach bird feeders directly to the outside of your windows.
    •Provide several small meals per day rather than one or two large meals. Also avoid “free feeding” (keeping your cat’s bowl full all the time). If your schedule doesn’t permit giving multiple meals, you can purchase a feeder with a built-in timer, designed to open according to a preset schedule.
    •Teach your cat to walk on a leash with a harness, such as the Gentle Leader® Come with Me Kitty™ Harness and Bungee Leash. Going on leashed walks is a safe way to take your indoor cat on outdoor adventures. To be safe, make sure your cat always wears ID tags on her collar when walking outside.
    •If your have the space, build an enclosed outdoor area where your cat can spend time when the weather is nice. Cats will spend hours watching leaves blow in the wind, birds flying and squirrels scampering around. If you can’t have an outdoor enclosure, try creating a window perch where your cat can easily sit and look out the window.
    •Training your cat can give her a great mental workout. Just like dogs, cats can learn a number of useful behaviors and fun tricks, like sit, come when called and shake.
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  7. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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  9. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    Nail Trimming 101

    Make manicures enjoyable and easy for both you and your cat.

    Does your kitty disappear when the clippers come out? Do you have to wrap her in a towel to give her a manicure? According to our behavior experts, calm, enjoyable nail-trimming sessions are not only possible—that’s how they should always be! Check out the following tips for getting kitty to relax while you trim, turning nail-clipping sessions into enjoyable together time.

    Setting the Mood

    Ideally you should introduce your cat to nail clipping when she’s a kitten. Choose a chair in a quiet room where you can comfortably sit your cat on your lap. Get her when she’s relaxed and even sleepy, like in her groggy, after-meal state. Take care that she isn’t able to spy any birds, wild animals or action outside nearby windows—and make sure no other pets are around.

    Make Friends with the Paw

    Gently take one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than the count of three. If your cat pulls her paw away, don’t squeeze or pinch, just follow her gesture, keeping in gentle contact. When she’s still again, give her pad a little press so that the nail extends out, then release her paw and immediately give her a treat. Do this every other day on a different toe until you’ve gotten to know all ten.

    Get Acquainted with the Clipper

    Your cat should be at ease with the sound of the clippers before you attempt to trim her nails. Sit her on your lap, put a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the clippers and hold them near your cat. (If she sniffs the clippers, set a treat on top of them for her to eat.) Next, while massaging one of your cat’s toes, gently press her toe pad. When the nail extends, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while still holding your cat’s paw gently. Now release her toe and quickly give her a treat.

    Never Cut to the Quick

    The pink part of a cat’s nail, called the quick, is where the nerves and blood vessels are. Do NOT cut this sensitive area. Snip only the white part of the claw. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk cutting this area. If you do accidentally cut the quick, any bleeding can be stopped with a styptic powder or stick. It’s a good idea to keep it nearby while you trim.

    Time to Clip

    With your cat in your lap facing away from you, take one of her toes in your hand, massage and press the pad until the nail extends. Check to see how much of a trim her nails need and notice where the quick begins. Now trim only the sharp tip of one nail, release your cat’s toe and quickly give her a treat. If your cat didn’t notice, clip another nail, but don’t trim more than two claws in one sitting until your cat is comfortable. Be sure to reward her with a special treat afterward. Please note, you may want to do just one paw at a time for the first couple of sessions.

    Clipping Schedule

    A nail-trimming every ten days to two weeks is a nice routine to settle into. If your cat refuses to let you clip her claws, ask your vet or a groomer for help.

    What Not to Do
    •If your cat resists, don’t raise your voice or punish her.
    •Never attempt a clipping when your cat is agitated or you’re upset. And don’t rush—you may cut into the quick.
    •Don’t try to trim all of your cat’s claws at one time.
    •Do NOT declaw. This surgery involves amputating the end of a cat’s toes and is highly discouraged by the ASPCA. Instead, trim regularly, provide your cat with appropriate scratching posts and ask your veterinarian about soft plastic covers for your cat’s claws.
  10. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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  14. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    Feeding Older Cats

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    Cats begin to show visible age-related changes at about seven to twelve years of age. There are metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes, too. Some of these are unavoidable. Others can be managed with diet.
    1.Start your cat on a senior diet at about seven years of age.

    2.The main objectives in the feeding an older cat should be to maintain health and optimum body weight, slow or prevent the development of chronic disease, and minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present.

    3.As a cat ages, health issues may arise, including:

    - deterioration of skin and coat
    - loss of muscle mass
    - more frequent intestinal problems
    - arthritis
    - obesity
    - dental problems
    - decreased ability to fight off infection

    4.Routine care for geriatric pets should involve a consistent daily routine and periodic veterinary examinations to assess the presence or progress of chronic disease. Stressful situations and abrupt changes in daily routines should be avoided. If a drastic change must be made to an older pet's routine, try to minimize stress and to realize the change in a gradual manner.
  15. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    High-Rise Syndrome

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    When summer comes around, many pet parents are eagerly opening their windows to enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, they are also unknowingly putting their pets at risk. Unscreened windows pose a real danger to cats, who fall out of them so often that the veterinary profession has a name for the complaint—High-Rise Syndrome. During the warmer months, veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Hospital see approximately three to five cases a week. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises—and even death.

    Fast Facts: Feline High-Rise Syndrome

    - Cats have excellent survival instincts, and they don’t deliberately “jump” from high places that would be dangerous. Most cats fall accidentally from high-rise windows, terraces or fire escapes.

    - Cats have an incredible ability to focus their attention on whatever interests them. A bird or other animal attraction can be distracting enough to cause them to lose their balance and fall.

    - Because cats have little fear of heights and enjoy perching in high places, pet owners often assume that they can take care of themselves. Although cats can cling to the bark of trees with their claws, other surfaces are much more difficult, such as window ledges, concrete or brick surfaces.

    - When cats fall from high places, they don’t land squarely on their feet. Instead, they land with their feet slightly splayed apart, which can cause severe head and pelvis injuries.

    - It is a misconception that cats won’t be injured if they fall from one- or two-story buildings. They may actually be at greater risk for injury when falling shorter distances than by falling from mid-range or higher altitudes. Shorter distances do not give them enough time to adjust their body posture to fall correctly.

    - Remember that when cats fall from high-rise buildings, they may end up on sidewalks or streets that are dangerous and unfamiliar to them. Never assume that the animal has not survived the fall; immediately rush the animal to the nearest animal hospital or to your veterinarian.

    - There is a 90-percent survival rate for cats who are high-rise victims if they receive immediate and proper medical attention.

    High-Rise Syndrome is 100-Percent Preventable

    To keep your cat safe during the summer, the ASPCA recommends that you take the following precautions:

    - To fully protect your pets, you’ll need to install snug and sturdy screens in all your windows.

    - If you have adjustable screens, please make sure that they are tightly wedged into window frames.

    - Note that cats can slip through childproof window guards—these don’t provide adequate protection!

    - Cat owners should also make sure they keep their cats indoors to protect them from additional dangers such as cars, other animals and disease. People who want to give their cats outdoor stimulation can look into full-screen enclosures for backyards and terraces.
  16. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    According to Wikipedia, cats have a rather low terminal velocity because of their small size, light bone structure and fur. They typically only reach 100kph/60mph, compared to 210kph/130mph for a falling human. They often survive long falls in better condition than short ones, because they have time to splay their feet and increase wind drag; this also results in landing on their bodies, which is less likely to incur serious injury than taking all the force on their legs.

    On the other hand, cats have extremely flexible joints, which can be widened to provide more deceleration distance if they land on their feet.

    Furthermore, they have the ability to rotate the front and back half of their bodies independently, so during a longer fall they have time to right themselves and land on their softer belly instead of their rigid spine.

    But it's probably the low terminal velocity that gives them the greatest advantage. A cat can fall out of a skyscraper and still only reach a speed of 60mph.

    Several years ago, one of our members posted the statistic that the highest fall that a cat is known to have survived is 32 stories (roughly 320ft/100m). Unfortunately the post includes no attribution. Nonetheless, this is consistent with the Wikipedia article.


    Humans are not nearly as sturdy as cats. 50% of falls from a mere ten feet (3m) are fatal. People instinctively try to land feet-first. From any great height, this will push the leg bones up into the torso, destroying the heart and other organs.

    A common deadly accident for young children is the result of parents putting the kids' TV on top of a bureau so they can't reach the controls in order to choose their own programs. Kids aren't stupid; they quickly realize that they can pull the drawers out, each one a little further than the one above it, and climb them like a stairway. The bureau topples over, the child hits the floor... and the TV lands on top of him.
  20. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    50% from only ten feet! I did not realize that. Saddening.
  21. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    You got me curious about that. Thanks.

    BBC NEWS 24 March 2012

    A cat in the US city of Boston survived a fall from a 19-storey window and only bruised her chest. How do cats survive falls from such great heights?

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    The cat's owner Brittney Kirk, a nurse, left the window open a crack on Wednesday morning to give Sugar some air. Sugar got out and either fell or leapt off the ledge and hit a patch of grass and mulch.

    An animal rescue service found her and traced her back to Ms Kirk through a microchip embedded in her skin.

    "She's a tough little kitty," Ms Kirk told the Boston Globe newspaper.

    Cats' remarkable ability to survive falls from great heights is a simple and predictable matter of physics, evolutionary biology, and physiology, veterinarians and biologists say.

    "This recent story isn't much of a surprise," says Jake Socha, a biomechanist at Virginia Tech university.

    "We do know that animals exhibit this behaviour, and there have been lots of records of these cats surviving."

    With scientists unwilling to toss cats off buildings for experimental observation, science has been unable systematically to study the rate at which they live after crashing to the ground.

    In a 1987 study of 132 cats brought to a New York City emergency veterinary clinic after falls from high-rise buildings, 90% of treated cats survived and only 37% needed emergency treatment to keep them alive. One that fell 32 stories onto concrete suffered only a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung and was released after 48 hours.

    From the moment they're in the air to the instant after they hit the ground, cats' bodies are built to survive high falls, scientists say.

    They have a relatively large surface area in proportion to their weight, thus reducing the force at which they hit the pavement.

    Cats reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the downward tug of gravity is matched by the upward push of wind resistance, at a slow speed compared to large animals like humans and horses.

    For instance, an average-sized cat with its limbs extended achieves a terminal velocity of about 60mph (97km/h), while an average-sized man reaches a terminal velocity of about 120mph (193km/h), according to the 1987 study by veterinarians Wayne Whitney and Cheryl Mehlhaff.

    Cats are essentially arboreal animals: when they're not living in homes or in urban alleys, they tend to live in trees.

    Sooner or later, they're going to fall, biologists say. Cats, monkeys, reptiles and other creatures will jump for prey and miss, a tree limb will break, or the wind will knock them over, so evolution has rendered them supremely capable of surviving falls.

    "Being able to survive falls is a critical thing for animals that live in trees, and cats are one of them," says Dr Socha. "The domestic cat still contains whatever suite of adaptations they have that have enable cats to be good up in trees."

    Through natural selection, cats have developed a keen instinct for sensing which way is down, analogous to the mechanism humans use for balance, biologists say.

    Then - if given enough time - they are able to twist their bodies like a gymnast, astronaut or skydiver and spin their tails in order to position their feet under their bodies and land on them.

    "Everything that lives in trees has what we call an aerial righting reflex," says Robert Dudley, a biologist at the animal flight laboratory at the University of California - Berkeley.

    Cats can also spread their legs out to create a sort of parachute effect, says Andrew Biewener, a professor of organismal and evolutionary biology at Harvard University, although it is unclear how much this slows the rate of descent.

    "They splay out their legs, which is going to expand their surface area of the body, and that increases the drag resistance," he says.

    When they do land, cats' muscular legs - made for climbing trees - act as shock absorbers.

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    "Cats have long, compliant legs," says Jim Usherwood of the structure and motion lab at the Royal Veterinary College. "They've got decent muscles. In that they're able to jump quite well, the same muscles divert energy into decelerating rather than breaking bones."

    The springy legs increase the distance over which the force of the collision with the ground dissipates, says Dr Biewener.

    "The impact forces are much higher in stiff collisions," he says. "If they can increase the collision time over a longer period, that reduces the impact force."

    And a cat's legs are angled under the body rather than extended downward, like human or horse legs.

    "You're not transmitting the forces really directly," says Dr Socha.

    "If the cat were to land with its legs directly under him in a column and hold him stiff, those bones would all break. But they go off to the side and the joints then bend, and you're now taking that energy and putting it into the joints and you're getting less of a force at the bone itself."

    However, house cats in urban or suburban areas tend to be overweight and in less than peak physical condition, warns Steve Dale, a cat behaviour consultant who is on the board of the Winn Feline Foundation, which supports cat health research.

    That detracts from their ability to right themselves in midair, he says.

    "This cat was lucky," he says. "But many, if not most, would have severe lung damage, would have a broken leg or two or three or four, maybe have damage to the tail, and maybe more likely than any of that a broken jaw or dental damage.

    "The lessons learned: screens, please, on the windows."

    Reporting by Daniel Nasaw in Washington

    Cats have relatively large surface areas in proportion to their weight, so fall at a slower rate over a great height than larger mammals
    Their bodies have evolved to allow them to survive falls from trees, their natural homes
    Given the time, they twist to land on their feet
    Their legs are long, muscular and extend under the body rather than straight down, allowing them to absorb the shock
    But many cats who fall from heights are nevertheless severely injured and some die
  22. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

    Do cats always land unharmed on their feet, no matter how far they fall?

    July 19, 1996

    Dear Cecil:

    Is it true cats always land unharmed on their feet, no matter how far they fall?

    — A D DOO, via America Online

    Cecil replies:

    I love this question, because (1) it seems completely wild; (2) it nonetheless appears to have some scientific basis; (3) on examination the scientific basis is open to serious question; and — this is the best part — (4) the Teeming Millions figured this all out by themselves. I may be able to retire from this job yet.

    Here's the EP version of the story you heard, related to me by AOL user Bmaffitt: "There was a Discovery Channel special on this a while back. The truth is, after a few floors it doesn't really matter [how far the cat falls], as long as the oxygen holds out. Cats have a nonfatal terminal velocity (sounds like a contradiction in terms, but most small animals have this advantage). Once they orient themselves, they spread out like a parachute. There are cats on record that have fallen 20 stories or more without ill effects. As long as the cat doesn't land on something pointy, it's likely to walk away."

    You're thinking: no freaking way. But believers trot out a 1987 study from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Two vets examined 132 cases of cats that had fallen out of high-rise windows and were brought to the Animal Medical Center, a New York veterinary hospital, for treatment. On average the cats fell 5.5 stories, yet 90 percent survived. (Many did suffer serious injuries.)

    We know cats have exceptional coordination and balance, so maybe that contributed to the high survival rate. One cat, for example, is known to have survived a 46-story fall. (It apparently bounced off a canopy and into a planter.)

    But here's the weird part. When the vets analyzed the data they found that, as one would expect, the number of broken bones and other injuries increased with the number of stories the cat had fallen — up to seven stories. Above seven stories, however, the number of injuries per cat sharply declined. In other words, the farther the cat fell, the better its chances of escaping serious injury.

    The authors explained this seemingly miraculous result by saying that after falling five stories or so the cats reached a terminal velocity — that is, maximum downward speed — of 60 miles per hour. Thereafter, they hypothesized, the cats relaxed and spread themselves out like flying squirrels, minimizing injuries. This speculation is now widely accepted as fact.

    But there's a potential fatal flaw in this argument, which emerged from a discussion on — one can't help but grin — alt.fan.cecil-adams on the Usenet. (In fairness, the objection may have originally been raised on alt.folklore.urban.)

    The potential flaw is this: the study was based only on cats that were brought into the hospital. Clearly dead cats, your basic fell-20-stories-and-looks-like-it-came-out-of-a-can-of-Spam cats, go to the Dumpster, not the emergency room. This may skew the statistics and make falls from great distances look safer than they are.

    I called the Animal Medical Center to see if this possibility had been considered. The original authors were long gone, so I spoke to Dr. Michael Garvey, head of the medical department and current expert on "high-rise syndrome."

    Dr. Garvey was adamant that the omission of nonreported fatalities didn't skew the statistics. He pointed out that cats that had fallen from great heights typically had injuries suggesting they'd landed on their chests, which supports the "flying squirrel" hypothesis.

    I suggested this merely meant that a cat landing in this position had a chance of surviving long enough to be brought into the hospital, whereas cats landing in other positions were so manifestly dead that the hospital was never notified. Dr. Garvey didn't buy it, but said this was a matter about which reasonable people might disagree.

    We await the formation of a committee of New York doormen to compile global statistics on the fate of falling cats. Meanwhile don't believe something just because it was on the Discovery Channel, or for that matter in the Straight Dope.

    Curiosity killed the cat

    Dear Cecil:

    Back when I was a kid we used to take the cat up on the roof and toss it off. It was just a one-story house, so the cat didn't have far to fall. That little bugger would spread out his arms and legs and glide on down, just like a flying squirrel. He never seemed to mind it in the least. He'd let us drag him up there again and again. It seems they have a natural ability to protect themselves from falls. Now that's science!

    — Dave, via AOL

    Cecil replies:

    No, that's stupidity. I got another note telling about some moron who dropped (a) a cat and (b) a chicken out of a Cessna at 800 feet to see what would happen. The cat survived. The chicken didn't. While that might seem to validate the flying-squirrel hypothesis, what it really tells me is that the teenage sadists of the world have gotten the idea that cats are immortal, so anything goes. Nonsense. Let's review the facts:

    1. Nobody says that cats will survive any fall uninjured. Of the 132 cats brought to New York's Animal Medical Center after accidental falls, two-thirds required treatment, and half of that number required lifesaving treatment.

    2. The flying-squirrel hypothesis may well explain why some cats survive extremely long falls. No one has demonstrated that all cats will survive long falls. On the contrary, from anecdotal accounts we know that at least some cats are killed — the deaths just aren't reported.

    Cecil's assistant Little Ed got into a big online argument with a young fellow who was enamored of the flying-squirrel hypothesis. After Little Ed patiently explained the difference between some and all, the young fellow conceded Cecil was right to make point number two above.

    "But so what if Cecil was right?" the young fellow said by way of a parting shot. (I'm paraphrasing here.) "Cecil's point was boring. The flying-squirrel hypothesis is interesting."

    Fine, it's interesting. The ditz pitching the kitty out of the Cessna thought that was interesting. Just keep your hands off that cat.

    — Cecil Adams

  23. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

    Can cats survive a fall from any height?

    So here's the premise.
    1.A cat reaches its terminal velocity after around 10meters of free fall.
    2.A cat can survive a landing from a speed equal to its terminal velocity.
    3.Therefore a cat can survive a fall from any height.

    This seems actually quite feasible and would be tremendous if it holds some truth in the majority of cases. I guess there are plenty of animals that can survive their own terminal velocity but a cat somehow just seems too close to home, too familiar.

    I also realise that this is a difficult claim to prove or falsify as throwing cats out of windows for experimental purposes doesn't seem the most moral thing. Maybe a collated record of accidents? But that's not too scientific.

    It depends on whether you mean is it possible, or can you expect a given cat to survive a fall. All I know is that my ex had a cat fall from the window of her high rise apartment and it splattered on the sidewalk. – psusi May 20 '11 at 19:08

    A good experiment would be dropping a cat from a balloon at the edge of the atmosphere

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    Would it survive? – Chris Dennett May 21 '11 at 1:24

    @ChrisDennett Doesn't sound like a good experiment to me, since the cat could suffocate or freeze to death. Just establish the terminal velocity and don't go any higher than you need to reach it. – romkyns Jul 30 '12 at 9:48

    2 Answers

    As was brought up on in Is the use of parachutes supported by peer-reviewed papers? Where Andrew Grimm pointed to a study from 1987 which is widely reported (it's paywalled so I can't check myself) to say that not only do cats survive terminal velocity, but that their chance of survival increase over some shorter distances. That said the actual study cites that the cats falling from buildings had a 90% survival rate (after treatment), but also a lot of injuries. From the abstract:

    High-rise syndrome was diagnosed in 132 cats over a 5-month period. The mean age of the cats was 2.7 years. Ninety percent of the cats had some form of thoracic trauma. Of these, 68% had pulmonary contusions and 63% had pneumothorax. Abnormal respiratory patterns were evident clinically in 55%. Other common clinical findings included facial trauma (57%), limb fractures (39%), shock (24%), traumatic luxations (18%), hard palate fractures (17%), hypothermia (17%), and dental fractures (17%). Emergency (life-sustaining) treatment, primarily because of thoracic trauma and shock, was required in 37% of the cats. Nonemergency treatment was required in an additional 30%. The remaining 30% were observed, but did not require treatment. Ninety percent of the treated cats survived.

    The Straight Dope details how far the cats fell which mentions terminal velocity:

    But here's the weird part. When the vets analyzed the data they found that, as one would expect, the number of broken bones and other injuries increased with the number of stories the cat had fallen — up to seven stories. Above seven stories, however, the number of injuries per cat sharply declined. In other words, the farther the cat fell, the better its chances of escaping serious injury.

    The authors explained this seemingly miraculous result by saying that after falling five stories or so the cats reached a terminal velocity — that is, maximum downward speed — of 60 miles per hour. Thereafter, they hypothesized, the cats relaxed and spread themselves out like flying squirrels, minimizing injuries. This speculation is now widely accepted as fact.

    Although the Straight Dope is also careful to point out that perhaps the reason why more terminal velocity cats appear to survive is that the one that didn't land so gracefully wasn't brought into the emergency room and as such the statistics could be scewed.

    A more recent study from 2004 cites the previous study as well as several others. The cats in this study had a higher survival rate:

    High-rise syndrome was more frequent during the warmer period of the year. 96.5% of the presented cats, survived after the fall.

    It also go into a rather deep detail on various injuries sustained by the cats in all the studies, also stating cats don't reach terminal velocity until after the 6th floor and reaches the same conclusion as the previous studies:

    This substantiates the theory that cats falling at least seven stories flex their limbs so that truncal injuries are more common, while cats falling from distances lower than seven stories extend their limbs, the consequence being a greater incidence of limb fractures.

    Somewhat interestingly and related it cites a study on high rise syndrome in dogs from 1993 that says dogs cannot survive a fall from more than 6 stories.

    In the parachute question, the accepted answer noted that a few individuals who fell 5,000 metres or even 10,000 metres have survived.

    If a human can fall that far, it's plausible that a cat falling that far can potentially survive. But there's a big difference between "can" and "definitely will".

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