June 10, 2022


Wynton the cat sitting next to a closed window at home looking outside


Wynton is a strikingly handsome Russian Blue with inquisitive green eyes. He and his brother, Louis, are cool cats who were appropriately named after jazz greats because of their curiosity and spontaneity. But, one day, Wynton’s urge for exploration got him into serious trouble.

Chandi, Wynton’s owner, arrived home to her 16th floor apartment – the terrace door left ajar as it had been countless times before. Louis was lazily dozing on the couch, but Wynton was nowhere to be found.

“It seemed weird that he wasn’t in any of his usual spots,” says Chandi. “My emotions raced because the only thing I could think of was that he had fallen off the balcony.”

A neighbor told Chandi’s husband that he had heard a crash and saw a cat dragging itself across a portion of roof that connects two buildings on the seventh floor – it was Wynton. They rushed to the seventh floor, a nine floor drop from their apartment, but were unable to access the space because the building’s super was away. They called the fire station, but were told that they could not perform rescue efforts in private buildings. Refusing to give up, they turned to their son.

After some debate, Chandi’s son did the unthinkable – he climbed out of the building from the ninth floor and shimmied his way down the building’s exterior to the seventh floor terrace. Wynton was curled up and in severe shock. Nervously, Chandi followed her son down the side of the building. When she got to Wynton she wrapped him up in her shawl and felt the pressure of his paws against her chest; she breathed a sigh of relief, hopeful that his spine was not broken.

A full two hours after the ordeal began, Chandi and her family raced over the Queensboro Bridge to the Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Hospital of the Animal Medical Center (AMC).

“Wynton was in shock as he was suffering from multiple injuries and unable to stand with air present in his chest cavity,” said Dr. Sara Lefman, a resident in Emergency & Critical Care.

Once he was resuscitated and pain medication administered, the doctors were able to stabilize him for emergency MRI and CT scans. The tests showed severe fractures of the pelvis and spine that could have caused permanent paralysis. With his injuries deemed non-surgical, the treatment goal was to keep him as comfortable as possible while restricting his movements for a period of strict rest in order to allow his body to self-heal.

“We had to keep him within his carrier to restrict his movement, but this was challenging for the staff as we had to perform most of his treatments within the carrier,” said Dr. Lefman. Wynton remained in the ICU for 10 days under the watchful eyes of the AMC team.

“The vets were lovely,” says Chandi. “They would answer my calls late at night to give me a status report, sent little videos, and were incredibly kind; they took great care of Wynton, and of us!”

Wynton remained in medical boarding for three more weeks as he was treated by Dr. Jennifer Prittie, head of Emergency & Critical Care.

When Wynton was discharged home to his owners, he had to remain in a small crate or room lined with blankets for continued restricted activity until he was fully healed. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this stage of recovery was keeping his brother Louis away. But, his owners diligently followed doctors’ orders, remaining active participants in Wynton’s recovery as they had since day one.

Wynton’s experience and injuries are not unusual. High-rise syndrome is the phenomenon of cats falling from higher than two stories and is very common in urban areas. AMC is proud to report a high success rate in rescue and rehabilitation and Wynton is fortunate to have been brought here. Today, he is fully healed and was recently honored at this year’s Living Legends Luncheon.

“He has recovered magnificently and become so close to me after the accident – it’s like he knows how blessed and fortunate he was,” says Chandi. “He would have died without the fast, efficient, and professional work of the AMC doctors.”

Wynton’s recovery was a testament to the teamwork displayed by the AMC veterinary team. His case required the Critical Care Service, Neurology Service, and Surgery Service to work together in order to implement the best course of action.

Wynton sitting in an office chair at home looking straight at the camera with big green eyes
Wynton at home on the couch inside a cat bed laying all sprawled out
Celebrating AMC's Living Legends
Wynton eyes wide inside a cage
Wynton in a cage and his owner standing next to him smiling