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Falling off the bannisters in her sleep, help!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My 3 year old female, after spending 3 weeks roosting on the cable box, has decided to take root on the upstairs bannister railing! I'm not even worried about her claws digging in the wood, I'm worried because she loses her grip in her sleep and falls to the ground! It's at least a 15 foot drop (10ft ceiling + bannister height) At first I didn't think she'd really fall, that if she started she'd wake up and catch herself but she didn't! I had put a folded quilt on the floor below and it cushioned her fall a little. I thought she learned her lesson, she came to bed with me, but while I was asleep I heard a thud and sure enough she fell again! I was terrified she was badly injured, even after she ran back upstairs. I pulled all the pillows off the couch and lined the fall zone, but this cannot keep up for long. While I was watching TV I saw her fall, head and shoulders first, not feet first, but landed safely on the cushions. This is insane but she runs right back and does it again! I even tried locking her in one room but she's frantic to get out. I know in a couple weeks she'll choose a new roost but this is making me a nervous wreck and I am afraid she'll die or be badly hurt before then. I can't sleep and there is no way I can go to work and leave her like that. Am I going to have to lock her up and let her howl all day and night? Is there anything I can do to discourage her? Obviously the falls were not enough to do that as I had hoped. Any advice for this strange problem?
post #2 of 15
Hi TabbyTail.
In a 1987 study (in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association) of 132 cats that were brought into the New York Animal Medical Center after having fallen from buildings, it was found that the injuries per cat increased depending on the height fallen up to seven stories but decreased above seven stories.[1] The study authors speculated that after falling five stories the cats reached terminal velocity and thereafter relaxed and spread their bodies to increase drag.

I dont think you have much to worry about here, I have even seen cat trees for sale which are over 10ft tall. And by the time your cat was four feet from the ground it still would not have reached maximum velocity.Hope this is of some comfort to you
post #3 of 15
Try putting something on the railing that she won't like the feel of. Lots of cats hate tin foil, so you could put tin foil on it. You could also put tape on it sticky side up, or something with a sticky texture...cats hate that, and maybe she can relocate her roost. I don't blame you, I'd be a nervous wreck!
post #4 of 15
It doesn't matter what height it is if the cat is falling off head first while asleep.
I imagine the 'study' findings didn't figure in if the cat was asleep more than half way down and couldn't turn itself enough to position for the landing. Thus it's rather useless information in this situation...

Go with the sticky tape or something else to make it unpleasant or impossible to jump up on. Maybe add a tall cat tree in a less dangerous and quiet area.

Good luck, I hope she quits napping up there.
post #5 of 15
Weird. A friend has a young cat, about one year old, who relaxes in high spaces like windowsills to the point where he just rolls off the side... but he rights himself before he hits the ground.

Are you sure she stays asleep the whole way down? She probably righted herself, but would still make a big thud that you'd hear. If she does stay asleep while falling, I'd take her to the vet... it could be that she's fainting or having some other health problem.

Another possibility is that she's actually jumping on purpose and enjoys it.
post #6 of 15
I'd put a few pieces of sticky tape on the bannister and hopefully that will discourage her. And every time you catch her on there - chase her off. Make it a "not nice place" for her to sleep. A 15 ft drop sooner or later will cause injuries!
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody! Here's the update, I put a little TV table next to the bannisters, but a few inches below so she won't fall off the drop, to try to get her interested in lying there instead. It worked for a few minutes, then my other cat came and stole it from her and she got back on the old bannister. I took her into my room and shut the door, which is something I don't like to do because it hurts the other cats' feelings if they can't get in, but I had to so I could sleep without worrying about her. Today she's been back a little but mostly on the table when the other cat will leave it alone and once in awhile they even share. If it's no better by tommorrow I'm going to try the tinfoil, or maybe even the tape- how do you get the sticky side up?

When you all gave me the idea for putting stuff on them, I also remembered last Christmas I had some twisty fake tree limbs going all down the bannisters and the cats never messed with them so maybe they hate that too.

Thanks for your concern, I'll let you know how it turns out.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TabbyTail View Post
If it's no better by tommorrow I'm going to try the tinfoil, or maybe even the tape- how do you get the sticky side up?
Double sided tape, it's sticky on both sides.

You can get the wider rolls and sheets at pet stores. It's usually used on counter tops and tables to keep cats down, and furniture to stop scratching.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I didn't know they made tape for that! I've had some of the small skinny double sided scotch tape but not that kind.
post #10 of 15
I apologise if my words of help were not of any use to you as so rightly mentioned by strange_wings. However I was merely pointing out to a certain degree that your cat falling from such a short distance would be unlikely to injure itself as a cats self-righting mechanism is automatic.
Therefore I was hoping to put you at ease a bit more. As you are probably aware cats are nocternal predators,spending a lot of the daylight hours in a deep sleep. Whereas at night time they will tend to sleep lighter, even to the point of having their eyes half open. I suppose it depends of every cats circumstances. Our three have the run of the house and garden day and night, and they are more active at night times. As much as I love our three I would not worry to the point where I locked one in the bedroom. Its like having children and never letting them outside to play because of the dangers that you see as an adult, but feel free to decorate your bannisters with whatever you feel like And I hope it works for you TabbyTail
Take care and keep us informed.
Ps Christmas is just around the corner so some Holly would not look out of place
post #11 of 15
Since the cat prefers the little table. Perhaps that is why she does that, even with the drop. It sounds like a highly preferential spot, which is why it is so competed for. Is there any way you could get a table for that spot shareable by more cats?

How often does she change her sleeping spots? My Puffy changes every two weeks. He once slept in the doorway of the computer room, where my husband was sure to trip over him late at night. For his usual two weeks.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Mine must not have that righting reflex, because when I saw her fall, she fell in a fetal position, head and shoulders down, limbs close to her body. She landed on the cushions this way. Is this not normal? Could she have a equilibrium problem,or is she just a heavy sleeper?
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Werebear View Post
Since the cat prefers the little table. Perhaps that is why she does that, even with the drop. It sounds like a highly preferential spot, which is why it is so competed for. Is there any way you could get a table for that spot shareable by more cats?

How often does she change her sleeping spots? My Puffy changes every two weeks. He once slept in the doorway of the computer room, where my husband was sure to trip over him late at night. For his usual two weeks.
Oh yes, she changes all the time. She spent the last 3 weeks exclusively on the cable box other than eating and using the litter pan. She'll change eventually I'm just afraid she'll be hurt in the meantime.
post #14 of 15
I've had cats fall off televisions. We are there to catch them or wake them up. Sometimes they can't be woken up, so someone has to get up and physically move them before they fall.

That's a cat that's going to land the way you described.

When you first described the situation, I worried the cat had a neurological or balance problem, and now I think she has become fond of the bannister, enough for it to outweigh its disadvantages. She's actually brave enough to risk falling off the banister, she is saying to the cat who took her table. The cat took her table, so he is in a dominance battle.

Having two desired objects, such as scratching posts, great vantage points like your banister, a favorite toy, are always good with multiple cats. Even if they only seem to play with one, the one who is just not up for a mental battle at the moment will have an option.

So I would try to make room for two cats on the table, (even small tables can accommodate two cardboard boxes, side by side.) Back up the banister cat's right to the nice spot by shooing table cat away if he doesn't cooperate. He will learn, then, that unfettered access to the table comes at the price of sharing.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Werebear View Post
I've had cats fall off televisions. We are there to catch them or wake them up. Sometimes they can't be woken up, so someone has to get up and physically move them before they fall.

That's a cat that's going to land the way you described.
Oh yes she's fallen off the TV too, and out of window sills. Another cat too. I know what you mean, if you see their head sagging over the edge you can stop them. If they are sound asleep they won't wake up until the hit the ground. Could it be an equillibrium or neuro disorder? I never had cats do this in years past.

Some are sounder sleepers than others, people too. I had a little nephew who used to fall out of bed and not wake up, roll under the bed and roll around, still asleep, making his brother wake up and think there was a monster under the bed!

The big male who is a lot larger than her has been trying to hog the table, but they have been doing a good job sharing. Also since he sees it's not bugging her, he's left her alone most of the say. All table, no bannisters, all day now! I hope this keeps up, but I'm not moving the cushions until she changes roosting areas. I hope it's soon!
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