Paris Council will subsidise pet health insurance

Paris council will subsidize pet health insurance.

The administrators of Paris, France, have decided to introduce a council-sponsored scheme to subsidize the health insurance of cats and dogs living in the city. It’s believed to be a world first. It will greatly reduce the cost because it is believed that pets are particularly vulnerable in the City of Light.

It is believed that the novel insurance plan will allow owners to extend their medical care to cover dogs and cats for about £52 a year which is clearly a lot less than the normal cost.

The council is currently asking insurers to submit bids to get the best possible price. John Philippe Gillet, a Communist councillor dreamt up the scheme. Remarkably, he won approval across the political spectrum. He said that the scheme was passed unanimously and that the cost to owners would be about €60 a year.

To French citizens, the concept of local governments contributing to health insurance is known as a ‘mutuelle‘. This system is being applied to pets in Paris. And the reason is said to be because cats and dogs in Paris are surrounded by hazards such as air pollution and falls from high-rise apartments.

The council announced that Paris’s 250,000 cats and a 100,000 dogs are exposed to more severe hazards than pets living in other parts of France.

A Parisien veterinarian said: “In Paris there is environmental, physical and mental stress and a phenomenon of premature ageing. Dogs taken for walks in the street are close to car exhausts and they suffer from the effects of pollution, which destroys the cell membranes and is a factor in the development of cancers.”

Another vet in Paris working in the 16th arrondissement, Lionel Schilliger, said that common pet diseases in Paris included an infection transmitted by rat urine which dogs contract by drinking water from puddles. The disease is called leptospirosis. And he said that he often has to treat cats that have fallen from high-rise apartments. He calls them “parachute cats” in recognition of the way cats fan out their bodies to slow their fall.

Often the cats arrive with fractured pelvis or legs. And full-time indoor cats in Paris are, as we know, more prone to obesity which leads to health problems such as feline diabetes. And there is a ubiquitous problem of being run over by vehicles.

All these pressing factors have convinced the council to introduce this subsidised pet health insurance scheme. It reduces the cost of insurance tremendously. By comparison, private health insurance in France often runs to about €2,400 annually according to Dr. Schilliger.

Comment: this is the sort of thing that is unthinkable in the UK. It would never happen in Britain or London.

The Paris scheme is interesting for the fact that it is a form of public health service not that dissimilar to the NHS in the UK which is entirely funded out of taxpayer’s money. The Paris scheme which is for pets and not people is similar to the health service scheme for humans in for example Germany where the health service is partly funded privately and partly through public funds.

The Paris pet insurance scheme is a hybrid system – part private and part public which is arguable the way forward for all types of health insurance.

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Cat falls from the upper tier of a football stadium. They could have prevented it.

NEWS AND VIEWS: The news media headlines report on “quick thinking” college students saving the life of this black-and-white cat who fell from the top tier of a college football stadium, about 40 feet to a seated area below. Fortunately, the fans below unfurled an American flag which broke the cat’s fall. It did no more than break the fall because the cat slid out of the flag but as far as we know the cat was unharmed. Of course, the cat panicked and tried to run off but some guys grab the cat and one man held her/him aloft in triumph. The cat still tried to struggle free (normal behavior). They did well but I don’t like what they did in grabbing this cat. I’m sure some of them were scratched. It would have been better to have left her alone.

Also, we don’t know how the cat ended up hanging from what appears to be a cable below this top tier. The video starts after the cat arrives. It would be nice to know why this domestic cat ended up in this stadium hanging from the top tier. What happened beforehand?

Cats are good fallers

See articles below on cats falling…

However, in the title I have suggested that the students could have been even quicker thinking but I’m not criticising because the cat’s life was saved. Cats can fall from these sorts of heights (and higher) and suffer only minor injuries but on this occasion the cat was falling into a seated area and therefore it seems that it was likely she could have been seriously injured or killed if she had made contact with one of the seats.

Could have stopped the fall

I’d like to suggest that the man on the top tier who puts his hand down the side of the barrier (rather meekly), trying to reach the cat, could have done better. He could have taken off his shirt and dangled it down to the cat. The cat was near enough to be able to grab his shirt in her claws. He could then have raised his shirt over the barrier with the cat hanging on. I am convinced that this would have worked and it would have been a better outcome to this emergency. But like I said, this is not a criticism because it is easy to think of these things in retrospect.

It’s remarkable how often community cats get into stadiums populated by large crowds. I have to presume that the cat was there looking for food; as they are stray cats, they are hungry. That seems to be a reasonable assessment. I don’t think a domestic cat would want to be in that kind of place normally because it’s too noisy and unsettling for almost all domestic cats. I’m suggesting that this cat is domesticated but have described her as a ‘community cat’ i.e. living in the community around the stadium.

We are told that a security guard took the cat away and I presume he returned the cat to an area outside the stadium.

The match that was taking place was the Miami Hurricanes’ season-opening college game against Appalachian State. The stadium is the Hard Rock Stadium. All the news media sites are reporting on it if you search for “cat”.


Note: These are videos from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it. I have included 2 in case one stops.


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Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Khartoum gives four men $13,610 each for being kind towards pregnant cat

NEWS AND COMMENT – DUBAI: Is this a publicity stunt? I am opening up with a provocative statement. I may be unkind to be that provocative but the ruler of Dubai has been suffering from bad publicity recently due to his alleged imprisonment of one of his daughters, Princess Latifa. She is apparently no longer allegedly imprisoned but she tried to escape across the Indian Ocean I recall. And he has a second daughter, Shamsa, who was allegedly kidnapped from a street in Cambridge more than 20 years ago. However, I don’t want to go to those details but they are relevant background stories.

Dubai: Four kind men who are immigrant workers save a pregnant cat from injuring herself in falling from a building
Dubai: Four kind men who are immigrant workers save a pregnant cat from injuring herself in falling from a building

Associated page written by a Dubai resident:Cat Ownership in Dubai: Laws, Tips and Other Local Info to Know

Fortunately, we have a video presented by Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Khartoum on his Twitter account of a pregnant ginger-and-white cat who looks like she’s going to slide off an apartment balcony railing. We don’t know why she is in that predicament. It is several floors up and if she had fallen to the sidewalk below it would probably have caused her serious injury and the babies inside her. Was the cat being ejected from the apartment? We can’t see anyone. Why aren’t these questioned raised by the news media? They seem to be far too naive.

Domestic cats are very good at falling from these heights and they normally get away with it because they have their famous self-righting technique and the ‘flying squirrel technique’ to break their fall through air resistance. But this lady cat is pregnant which would make all those techniques much harder to complete particularly at this less than an optimum height from the ground (too low).

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Four Dubai workers who noticed she was sliding off the balcony barrier opened up a blanket, held each corner and waited for her to fall into it. Actually, three guys held the blanket and the fourth videoed the incident. It must have been uploaded to social media and the Dubai ruler saw it and tweeted: “Proud and happy to see such acts of kindness in our beautiful city. Whoever identifies these unsung heroes, please help us thank them.”

The Dubai police collected the names of the four men and a representative of Sheikh Muhammed’s office handed over the reward to the men. At $13,610 (American) that is a mightily nice reward. This translates to Dh50,000 (Rs 40 lakh)

I need to mention their names because they were indeed kind-hearted and deserve to be rewarded. One of them is a driver with the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai and his name is Nasser. Another is Muhammed Rashid who comes from Kerala in India and works as a shopkeeper in Dubai. The third man is Ashraf from Morocco who works as a watchman and the fourth is Atif Mehmood, a salesman from Pakistan.

It is noticeable, to me, that they are all immigrants working in Dubai to keep the country ticking over. It is an example of how immigrants can form the backbone of a society in keeping the economy working. It also appears that Dubai is reliant upon immigrants to do these sorts of jobs. Perhaps the local people don’t want to do them.

There has to be one question that comes out of this video. What happened to the cat? Of course, we don’t know. The cat should have been taken to a rescue centre if they exist in Dubai and I expect that there are at least a couple of animal shelters. The cat needs to be cared for until she gives birth to her kittens and afterwards as well. The kittens need to be socialised and rehomed. The mother cat also needs to be rehomed (see is domesticated). All these things probably didn’t or won’t happen. If they did, then you could also say that Dubai was a kind city, not just these four men. Would the native people have done the same thing?


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The reason why cats fall off balconies

America is entering the cat high-rise syndrome season. The weather becomes warmer and cat owners let their cats go out on the balcony. Because the domestic cat is so athletic and so capable in terms of walking along ledges and climbing trees, cat owners think that their cat is infallible in high places. They let them out onto the balcony in the belief that it is impossible for them to fall off. But sometimes they do. They make misjudgments. They often fall a long distance and survive because of their self-righting mechanism and their parachute-mechanism which means they reach a lower terminal velocity allowing them to survive impact. The cat’s body is also very flexible and their legs act like shock absorbers on impact. Not all cats survive but most do. I have an article on this if you want to read it-please click here.

In Singapore 250 cats fall from high rise apartments annually and 50% die apparently (click to read the story).

Cat falling on all fours
Cat falling on all fours. Picture in public domain.


The point I want to make is this: the wildcat ancestor of the domestic cat is the North African wildcat and they don’t fall off trees. You don’t see a leopard falling off a tree. The problem, as I see it, for the domestic cat living in an apartment in a high-rise building with a balcony is that their life is artificial. They are much higher up than they would normally be if living in the wild when climbing a tree. Normally the highest point they would be would be in a tree. But balconies can be hundreds of feet above the ground. And the surfaces are hard which makes it difficult for claws to grab hold of.

Cat falling in rescue from high rise building
Cat falling in rescue from high rise building. Image in public domain.

And perhaps domestic cats have lost some of their natural climbing abilities if they are inside an apartment all the time. They might lose some of their skills because they lack practice. Certainly, they can be distracted by chasing an insect or perhaps if two siblings are allowed out on a balcony and they play they may lose their bearings and carelessly fall over the edge. This would be due to lack of experience and carelessness.

But I do think that the human environment chips away a little bit from the innate skills of the domestic cat to navigate high places almost infallibly. No doubt the odd wild cat does fall off a tree from time to time but it is far less commonplace than domestic cats falling off balconies from high-rise flats.

Cat owners simply have to be aware of the dangers. I don’t think you can let a domestic cat out on a balcony unless they are wearing a harness and the lead is attached to something secure. Even if you are supervising or even if you are on the balcony with your cat she might still fall off in the blink of an eye. I am sure that it happens very quickly.

You might think that putting a Perspex sheet across the balcony railings would do the trick but I don’t think it will because many cats can jump to a height of about 8 feet which is much higher than any balcony railings.

Cat trapped and saved from falling off high rise building
Cat trapped and saved from falling off high rise building.

I can remember a story from years ago of a kitten being taken from a balcony by a bird of prey. That, too, is a potential danger in America but it must be exceptionally rare. The kitten simply disappeared and she was not on the ground below the balcony.

The Ottawa Humane Society is warning cat owners of the dangers. They took in a cat on March 22 who is now recovering from their injuries. They say that if a cat falls from a balcony the owner should not assume that the cat has been killed. My distinct impression from reading about this subject is that the majority of cats are not killed and some escape with quite minor injuries. Perhaps some people know of the dangers but believe that their cat can survive a fall which encourages them to allow their cat to go on the balcony unsuperised.

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Longest non-lethal fall in feline history

Andy is said to be the domestic cat who fell the farthest in history and survived according to Desmond Morris in his book Cat World. There is no information about Andy on the internet, surprisingly. All I have is from Morris’s book. Andy fell from the 16th floor of an apartment building in Florida. He lived with Florida Senator Ken Myer.

Because I don’t have anything else on Andy this article might be the shortest on record 🙂 . So I’ll add a bit on falling cats…

First up: Dr Desmond Morris seems to be wrong in his assessment about Andy! The BBC on 25 March 2012 wrote about a cat whose name is Sugar who lived in Boston, USA. She fell 19 stories from a window and bruised her chest. Sugar’s owner was Brittney Kirk, a nurse who left a window open to let some air into the room. Fortuitously Sugar landed on a patch of grass and mulch which broke her fall. It appears that Kirk was unaware of the fall and may have been out of the apartment at the time so somebody else found Sugar. She was microchipped and was described as a “tough little kitty” by Ms Kirk”.

Cat falling legs fanned out
Cat falling legs fanned out. Note: Piper fell from a tree about 40 feet up onto grass and ran off. Picture in public domain.

Study on falling cats

In 1987 scientists conducted a study of 132 cats who had been brought to a New York City emergency animal hospital after falling from buildings. Ninety percent survived and were treated while surprisingly only 37% needed emergency treatment to keep them alive.


Perhaps the record goes to one of these cats studied in the survey. The cat fell 32 stories onto concrete and suffered a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung and was released after 48-hours. Remarkable.

Cat falling on all fours
Cat falling on all fours. Picture in public domain.

How cats do it

Perhaps you know how domestic cats are able to do this. They fan out their bodies like flying squirrels. This creates an airbrake and they reach a terminal velocity which is much lower than usual at about 60 mph (97 km/h). If a man jumped from a very tall buildikng they would reach a terminal velocity of 120 mph (193 km/h) according to this study conducted by Wayne Whitney and Cheryl Mehlhaff.

Astronauts learnt from the falling cat phenomenon
Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images – I have merged three images for impact.


Clearly, cats developed this skill because they are animals that live in vertical spaces. They like to climb and many wild cat species often climbing trees and a few of them pretty well live in trees. You may have heard about their self-righting reflex as well. As soon as they fall they turn facing their legs downwards which, as mentioned, fan out.

To these attributes you can add the muscular anatomy of the domestic cat and their legs acting like shock absorbers. I discussed this in another post. Their legs are “angled” under the body rather than extended downward like humans or horses which also helps to create a shock absorbing effect. It all combines to give the remarkable domestic cat such a high level of survival on what looks like lethal falls.

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Falling cat knocks dog walker unconscious

Mr Goa knocked unconscious by a falling cat. His dog looks on.
Mr Goa knocked unconscious by a falling cat. His dog looks on. Screenshot.

HARBIN, CHINA: The video shows a domestic cat fallling from what appears to be a block of flats above shops. The cat must have fallen quite a distance which begs some questions about the quality of cat caretaking. However, the cat fell directly onto the head of the man who was walking his dog. The man is knocked unconscious but regained consciousness fairly soon afterwards apparently.

The cat ran off. We don’t know if the cat was unharmed. The man’s dog found the cat nearby and wanted to play with him or her. It has been said that the dog wanted to fight with the cat or attack the cat but this is an incorrect assessment in my considered opinion. It appears that the cat wanted to get back into the block from which he had fallen when he is confronted by the dog who appears to be a retriever.

Apparently the man’s name is Gao Fengua. He spent 23 days in hospital. He wears a neck brace and is seeking compensation from the cat’s owner who is a neighbour. It is reported that the cat was unharmed.

Please note that it is likely that this video above will be deleted at some stage because it has probably been uploaded to YouTube illegally. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy it.

Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province. It is interesting that the dog wears two boots on his forepaws.

Below is another version of the same video taken from a television screen!

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7-year-old girl and her cat fall 100 feet and both survive

This is a bizarre one. It comes from chilly north-central Russia. There was deep snow outside.

Flats from which the girl fell
Flats from which the girl fell

The unnamed girl lives on the 9th floor of a block of flats. She was waiting for her mum to come home. They’d planned to go for a walk so she was dressed for it and she had a backpack. She put her cat in the backpack. I presume that she intended to take her cat with her on the walk.

The girl went to a window and opened it to check if her mum was arriving. Her cat wriggled out of the backpack and in doing so pushed the child forwards causing her to lose her balance and fall through the window with her cat to the snowy ground below. The fall was about 100 feet.

The hole in the snow where the girl impacted the ground
The hole in the snow where the girl impacted the ground

According to medical examination, she received no life-threatening injuries.

The cat was unscathed except for the loss of one life. I’d expect that the cat fell free of the girl and was able to ‘parachute’ down by fanning out her legs to provide wind resistance.

The girl was badly bruised but nothing else thanks to the deep snow and her thick clothes.

Report: Rossiya via Daily Mail


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Singapore: 250 cats fall from high rise apartments every year. Fifty percent die on impact.

Cat trapped and saved from falling off high rise building
Cat trapped and saved from falling off high rise building

The BBC video explains Singapore’s problem with feline high-rise syndrome. The beginning of the video shows some cats in the most dangerous of positions on the outside of high-rise blocks.

As more than 80% of Singaporeans live in high rise apartment blocks, the SPCA sees about five instances of apartment cats falling from various heights weekly. This is about 250 cats per year.

About 50% of the cats who fall these great heights die on impact with the ground.


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