Why Is It That Cats Seem To Like High Places?

We will probably never know the real reason(s) why cats like high places, but here are some theories:

  • Height can indirectly be a sign of status. If there are multiple cats in a household, the cat who controls the best perches is generally the most dominant. The highest cat is literally the 'top cat.'
  • High places give the cat a better observation point. From that location, the cat can survey his 'realm' and be more aware of activities of people and other pets. In the wild, a higher place may serve as concealed site from which to hunt.
  • Heat may be another reason; i.e. the top perch is the warmest spot. The tops of refrigerators tend to be warm.
  • If a cat is anxious or afraid, a high perch may get him farther away from the cause of his anxiety (e.g.; a dog).

Why your particular cat seeks higher places may be a combination of these theories, or something only s/he will ever know.

Don't Assume That Your Cat Knows What It's Doing

"Oh, he's been on the balcony hundreds of times" is about as sensible as saying, "My child always plays with matches, and she's never started a fire!"

Tiny balcony ledges are a particular hazard to high-rise cats. A comfortable body harness and leash, held by the owner, is a cat's best protection against any falls. There is also a product available that fits into sliding glass doors to which you can attach a harnessed cat; it does not allow the cat to reach the edge of the balcony. Check with your local pet store.

If your cat is a sun-worshiper, consider attaching a cat-shelf to the inside windowsill that will allow him to sprawl out and soak up the sun.

Consider enclosing your balcony, floor to ceiling, with lattice, chicken-wire, netting or drapes that allow your cat to navigate safely. Lattice or chicken-wire also allows those with green thumbs to have climbing plants on the balcony.

If Your Cat Should Fall

Falling Cat
While cats do like heights, they are not immune to falling from them. Indoor heights are not usually a problem and the cat's "righting reflex" will usually ensure the cat lands on its feet. Outdoors, it's a different story, whether the cat falls from a tree, a high window or balcony or from a high rise building. Should the unthinkable occur...

  • Never assume that your cat has been killed, even if you look down and see him/her lying lifeless.
  • Do not give up looking if your cat disappears after a fall. It is not uncommon for cats to hide in bushes or creep into buildings if the fall has upset or frightened them.
  • Call your veterinarian immediately. Be specific about your cat's injuries. Your veterinarian will recommend steps to take for immediate medical treatment.
  • If you cannot reach your veterinarian, contact your local emergency clinic or humane society.

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