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Kitty falls 11 stories from Mendenhall Tower window

Lucky feline Wasabi survived plunge, but needed surgery

Posted: September 5, 2013 - 10:41pm  |  Updated: September 6, 2013 - 12:10am
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Stephanie Gustafson holds her two-year-old female cat, Wasabi, after returning from the veterinarian hospital on Thursday. The cat survived a fall from the 11th floor of the Mendenhall Apartment building on Monday after chasing a mosquito out the window.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Stephanie Gustafson holds her two-year-old female cat, Wasabi, after returning from the veterinarian hospital on Thursday. The cat survived a fall from the 11th floor of the Mendenhall Apartment building on Monday after chasing a mosquito out the window.

Stephanie Gustafson was relaxing at home Monday evening when curiosity got the best her two-year-old cat Wasabi.

“It was about 11 p.m. She was chasing a mosquito around the house,” Gustafson said. “Normally I keep the windows closed because she’s so curious, but this time it was open just enough.”

The mosquito escaped through the window of Gustafson’s 11th floor apartment at the Mendenhall Tower in downtown Juneau; Wasabi, a mere slip of a cat, went after it.

Gustafson said she “freaked out”. Her mother watched as the cat fell to the ground.

“My mom said she fell right about here,” Gustafson said, pointing with her foot to a spot in the parking lot about 15 feet away from the building. “And I ran down and found her huddled up right over there next to that metal box.”

When Gustafson got to Wasabi, she saw that her cat was bloody and soaked from the rain.

“She was sitting in this corner and had her eyes closed a little bit. Her paw was limp,” Gustafson said. “She was really quiet. She wasn’t meowing in pain or anything.”

Gustafson said she called an emergency veterinary clinic and was able to get Wasabi in for midnight X-rays.

“I thought maybe she had some internal injuries,” Gustafson said. “I didn’t think she would survive.”

As it turns out, Wasabi is as strong as her namesake.

The veterinarian set Wasabi’s front right leg in a bright pink cast. The cat had fractured her radius and broke some bones in her elbow. Gustafson was told to bring Wasabi back in two days when a veterinary surgeon could operate.

The day after the fall, Wasabi was back to being a playful kitty, Gustafson said.

“When I first took her home, she wouldn’t drink or eat anything,” Gustafson said. “After a day she was purring again and playing with her toys.”

Gustafson said Dr. Pat Taylor at the Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center performed Wasabi’s operation Wednesday, using pins and wires to hold the cat’s fractured and broken bones together. Wasabi returned home Thursday.

“She’s got about six weeks to heal. I’m going to have to keep her in a small area so she doesn’t play too much,” Gustafson said. “I’m just happy she’s alive. She’s like my little baby.”

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/canfieldjenn.

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