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Ask the Doctor July 2018 Issue

Dear Doctor: Falls and concussions

cat on top of tree

PhotoGoricki/Getty Images

Cats that fall from heights are very good at reflexively righting themselves in midair and landing on their feet. Still, injuries are possible.

Q. We live in a rural community, and have a couple of indoor-only cats, in addition to a few barn cats out back (we tried to bring them inside when they were kittens, but they were very unhappy with that lifestyle).

One of them — an adult male named Grey, who is by far the least socialized of the group — fell from a tree last month and kept his distance for a while. Now, he seems fine. My question is: Is it possible for a cat to suffer a concussion? And if this happens again, what would be the best course of action?

Mrs. Adelaide Alfonse

A. Dear Adelaide: Like humans, cats that suffer impact injuries to the head can suffer concussions. However, as you no doubt know, cats that fall from heights are extraordinarily good at reflexively righting themselves in midair and landing on their feet.

So, while it is unlikely that Grey had a concussion, he may have suffered some other injury in the fall, or the fall may have unnerved him enough that he became reclusive for a while — the first instinct of injured or sick cats often is to hide. However, the bottom line is that I don’t think there are any specific steps you need to take in this situation.

John Berg, DVM, DACVS

Professor of Small Animal Surgery

Cummings School of Veterinary

Medicine at Tufts University

Comments (1)

One of our cats fell of a divider between the living room and the basement, and hit the stairs. Although she seemed fine initially, the next day she was grouchy, and didn't want to be petted. Nothing was broken, she was walking and eating fine, but just wanted to be left alone. Upon a phone call with my Vet, he said she may have been bruised, muscle soreness, etc. and to monitor her for 2 days. If she hadn't improved or presented any other symptoms, to bring her in immediately. He said she could have been sore. Thankfully, the next day she was better, and by day three she was her normal self. It could have been an impact jarring of your cat's body or he was sore from the fall itself.

Posted by: Mischka | July 30, 2018 3:19 PM    Report this comment

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