More than 10,000 people end up in the emergency room each year because of an injury suffered when they trip and fall over their cat or their cat’s toys — or because they lose their balance when chasing their cat, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of people injured might actually be much higher. The report did not cover people who went to urgent care centers or doctors’ offices instead of hospitals or just nursed their wounds at home.
The most common injuries are bone fractures and contusions/abrasions. People also suffer sprains, strains, and internal injuries. The fractures tend not to be in the legs but in the wrists. People instinctively hold out their hands in trying to break a fall.
Women are more than twice as likely to sustain an injury as men, according to the CDC’s research. Age-wise, children up to 14 and adults 35 though 54 are the most apt to get hurt. But the elderly suffer the most bone fractures.
When an older person falls it’s concerning for other reasons, as well. For instance, if an elderly person hits her head when she lands, she is more likely to develop a brain hemorrhage. As we age, our brains shrink, leaving more room for the brain to get jostled about in a fall and therefore more opportunity for the tearing of veins that cause subdural hematomas — bleeding in the space between the skull and the brain itself.
To reduce the risk of falling over your cat:
- When you are carrying something that might obscure your line of vision, like a pile of laundry, keep in mind that your cat might be in your path.
- Keep floors well lit, especially at night. That will make it easier to know if your cat is in front of you as you move about.
- Keep food and water bowls near walls rather than in traffic “lanes” that you frequently traverse.
- Don’t try to step over a cat. You can lose your balance. Or the cat can move while you are maneuvering, literally tripping you up. It’s safer to walk around
- Make sure the floor is picked up of your cat’s catnip mouse and other toys once she has finished playing with them.
- Don’t chase your cat. There’s too much of an opportunity to trip. Your cat doesn’t want to be chased, anyway.