What Really Happens When You Drop a Cat Off at a Farm

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Yesterday afternoon, I took the short walk across my yard to the other side of our barn to take some pictures of my Concord Grape Vine for an upcoming post and was met with the sad eyes of a scrawny cat. I wish I could say I was surprised by the sudden appearance of a juvenile cat on our property but at this point, I just am not.  What I do still find confusing is how a cat can be suddenly abandoned as we transition the coldest months of the year in Upstate New York.

While this is not a post I generally like to write, this has been gnawing at me for years, and something I have been wanting to say for a long time. When you drop your housecat off at a farm,  The majority of the time you are literally sentencing your once loved pet to a very short, and very difficult life.

I have been feeding this pretty cat for a couple of days, and while I know she isn’t feral, I have been trying to gauge if she would survive if we moved her into our cow barn. She’s a scrappy little thing, and so far has survived by her wits, but she still craves the nearness of people and the security of a house.

The risks for outdoor cats are many: They’re all too often hit by cars, or eaten by coyotes. In our rural area, they accidentally get tangled up in our neighbor’s hunting traps, some starve to death.  They fight with other cats, picking up diseases or getting painful abscesses.  They are more susceptible to parasites.  While the typical wild feral cat can maneuver through these risks for many years, house cats are simply not prepared for such dangers.

So, as I am preparing to surrender this pretty girl to Lollypop farm, I want it to be known:  She didn’t learn to hunt, she was scrounging in my garbage. She wasn’t frolicking in the open pastures and catching field mice, she was struggling to survive, probably loaded with worms and fleas. She wasn’t curled up on a soft bundle of hay in the hay barn, she was living in a bucket in a hedgerow when I found her.

I have seen cats come and go here, and let me be clear. Cats that once lived in a house do not suddenly adapt to being dumped on a farm. There is no idyllic country life waiting for them here. There are hardships they are in no way prepared for.  I have found kittens in my wood pile in the middle of winter, long past any point of saving them.  My neighbor has had a cat with a mangled leg end up in her yard… a confused and displaced domestic housecat is easy prey for the ever growing pack of coyotes that travel through the farm.

Not only is it an incredibly difficult transition for the cat, now I have to shoulder the responsibility someone shirked and spend my time trying to either catch or trap her to take her to a shelter. We and every other farmer I know take the care of all the animals on our farm very seriously, we pay for food and medical expenses for all of the animals here, and because I know she needs to be dewormed and get some flea medication I will make a $40 donation to help offset the shelter’s costs to provide her medical care. We are not a cat household, but  I don’t have the stomach to let her starve and go without medical care, or the comfort and security she grew accustomed to before she showed up here.

So, What Really Happens When You Drop a Cat Off at a Farm? If you are lucky a farmer will notice the abandoned house cat, well out of its element and will either take it in, or find a suitable home or placement.

But more often than not, we find them too late, because, for a house cat, the realities of  being dropped at a farm are much harsher than what is generally pictured.


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  1. So sad makes you loose faith in humans. What is wrong with people. How do they sleep at night after they do this. Just disgusting.

  2. How do you know she was left there. She could have wandered there. It’s nice you are taking care of her. She’s beautiful. We had a cat that got very aggressive as it got older. Every family member was injured and needed antibiotics from its attacks. We couldn’t give it to a family and the humane society said they would put it down. Nothing was wrong with it after check ups and blood tests. Only choice was asking a local farm to take it to give it a fighting chance in the last leg of life.

  3. We have a barn with four cows. A neighbor’s cat has come here to have two litters. First litter….one tabby survived and is caring for for 4 or 5 kittens who were eating bread with our cows. We bought kitten food. But they adopted us. It is tough to know what to do. I love them. Our cows are used to them.

  4. Someone who I know just left her cat at a farm as she could not find a home for it. I’m heart broken and it sucks how someone could do something like this…

    1. It is sad, but hopefully the farmer, or his wife 🙂 will notice and feed the cat if it will adapt to being a barn cat (some do) or rehome or surrender the cat to an animal shelter if needed.

      After I wrote this post I rehomed a second cat that obviously raised in a house to my mother, both of the cats are doing amoazing and have very comfortable lives now, and both my mother and friend who took this pretty long haired cat can’t believe they were dropped off at the farm.

      I will post an updated pic of this cat, he has filled out and grew into a big boy who happily spends his days in a comfy town house.

  5. Also another point of dumping kitties on/near a farm, that is home to cats already living there and they can be very territorial as most all animals are, so the poor kitty that is dumped will never get to fit in let alone get to eat. Starving to death is a horrific way to die. Just like humans starving it is extremely painful and the suffering is unbearable. Some cats that do not eat for two (2) days will get what is called “Fatty Liver” and their liver shuts down from not eating. This is another horrific way to die. Kitties that are dumped are scared, do not know where to get food, shelter, all of the things they once had. When you dump animals you are giving them a short, terrified, horrific life to endure until they die.

  6. I sure hope this little darling finds a home fast. I just rescued a stray kitten and she has brought our whole family such joy. I really loved your article and the truth about the perils these babies face. I also got my first cat from lollypop farm when I was a child. Great story and love your website!

  7. I am very impressed with your article. We have three cats who were all rescued from farms or animal shelters. I wish we could rescue more.

    1. I hope to not make an enemy or hurt feelings, but, as a Shelter worker, I cringe when I see people posting that they “rescued” an animal from a Shelter. You adopted. The Shelter rescued.

    1. She’s such a sweet little thing, she deserves a home 🙂 Ontario County Human society is actually closer to me, but I have worked with Lollypop before with foster dogs and feral barn cats, and I think they get more foot traffic, so hopefully, she will not have to stay in a shelter long.