When Diana McDougle of Seattle finally gathered the courage to peer out of the 11th story window to the ground below, her cat Baxter wasn’t moving. Only moments before, the 9-year-old domestic longhair had nudged the glass open far enough to slip out onto the ledge. After falling more than 100 feet and living to purr about it, Baxter has earned the title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).
“There was a fire in our building, so my husband and I had temporarily relocated to a different unit. Baxter had only been in our new space for a day and we hadn’t thought to check the windows for screens,” recalled Diana. “We didn’t realize how easily the windows slid open until it was too late. I saw Baxter on the other side of the window and there wasn’t enough room on the ledge for him to turn around and come back in.”
Inevitably, Baxter fell 11 stories to the ground below. After a hysterical phone call to her husband, Diana collected herself enough to venture downstairs to find her pet. Astonished that he was still alive, the panicked pet parent quickly transported Baxter to the nearest emergency animal hospital. Though the feline had suffered a broken collarbone and a dislocated sternum, the emergency veterinarian was mostly concerned about the fluid surrounding his heart and lungs. Baxter was hospitalized for four days while doctors closely monitored his condition. He has since returned to his home with the McDougles and made a complete recovery.
“Pet owners often believe that their indoor-only companions are less prone to accidents and injuries, but there is no such thing as an ‘accident-proof’ home,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “While it’s important to evaluate our pet’s environment for possible dangers, it’s equally essential to prepare for those unexpected mishaps that occur when we’re not looking.”
According to Diana, Baxter is a city kitty through and through and has lived in high-rise buildings his entire life. “He has never tried to go out an open window, so we didn’t think to check them right away in our new unit,” said Diana. “This is exactly why it was important to us to buy VPI Pet Insurance; you never know what’s going to happen.”