Should I Abandon My Cat on a Farm?

Many city people seem to think that farm life is every cats dream… but is farm life really so good for a cat? Is dumping your cat on a farm in the best interest of the cat?

When I was a child we had a wonderful Calico cat, her name was “Calico”. We went to live in another country for a year and of course could not take her with us. We were lucky to find a home willing to take an adult cat (we didn’t dump her). It was a farm home, which seemed like a great choice. But when we returned we found out that farm homes are not the ideal life for a cat.

Calico had been beaten up by the other resident cats, and was thin, due to the fact that some farmers do not feed their cats, rather insisting they catch mice. Of course if not dewormed, farm cats are loaded with parasites from eating the mice. But at least she was alive, many farm cats have their lives cut short.

The Life of a Farm Cat

Many farm cats die within their first 6 weeks. If their mother is not well fed survival for the entire litter is poor. As well many are killed by coyotes, raccoons, owls, and foxes. Intact male cats will even kill kittens in an effort to bring the mother back into heat.

But a worse fate than that is when the farmer finds “another” unwanted litter, he may dispose of them himself, often by drowning, or by placing the kittens in a bag and throwing it onto the road.

Even if the kittens survive the first few months, they are always at risk.

Farmers often do not feed the cats, thinking they will catch more mice if hungry. Farmers seldom spend money to vaccinate, worm, and so forth. After all, they know that these cats are not going to have a long lifespan, why spend money on something that a coyote is just going to kill anyhow?

Life on a farm may not be sunshine and roses.

photo by author

Dumped Cats

When a new cat shows up on a farm, as when one is dumped in the country by its owner, the farmer is not always welcoming. Actually that is a little unfair, because often it is the current farm cats, and farm dog, who may be less welcoming. Often chasing the new comer off, or even killing it.

Declawed cats, in particular, have almost no chance of survival on a farm.

Okay, so let us assume it got by the residents and coyotes, now the newly abandoned cat faces the farmer. Most farms are already overrun with cats (due to many farmers resisting the expense of spaying or neutering) as such one more is a burden. Abandoned cats are often shot on sight, and this is legal in some areas.

Cat Abandonment is Illegal

In most areas taking your cat out to a farm is illegal. This falls under animal cruelty and is Animal Abandonment. Few people are charged because few people are caught in the act. Regardless of this, it is a cruel, and cowardly, thing to do to a pet cat, or any animal.

Do the Right Thing

If you cannot keep your cat, or do not want it any longer, the first step is to return it to the breeder, or to the animal shelter if you adopted it. If this is not an option it should be surrendered to a local animal shelter, rehomed carefully (“Free to Good Home Pets” often do not find good homes), or euthanized humanely.

Some Farm Cats have Good Lives

To say “all” farm cats have bad lives is not true. I live on a hobby farm, my cats are all spayed or neutered, and get wormed, and vaccinated. However, you must remember, I am a city kid who moved to the country and my views of cats are as pets not as “mousers”. Where I live now I am surrounded by farmers who might keep one cat as a pet, but have others around the farm that are not treated with kindness or respect. You cannot blame the farmers for this attitude, after all their entire lifestyle revolves mostly around feeding you!  When some kittens were dumped on my farm, I did not keep them – you can read about them here.

photo by author

Related Links

How to Provide Better Care for a Farm Cat

Lump on the Road

How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Pet

The Internet is Obsessed with Cats but Real People are Not

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User Comments
  1. Minister Marlene

    On October 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Love the photo of your cat amonst the chickens. My kitten has the same coloring. The way a person treats animals speaks volumes about their character. I wouldn’t even befried a person who was hard hearted in regards to animals and pets. Why can’t these lazy, callous people just do the right thing?


    On October 10, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    a delightful article about cats on farms. i enjoyed the read, the photos and the videos too. alot of research and positive facts and information too. i loved it. thanks brenda for sharing it.

  3. Adrn0919

    On October 10, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Very informative and insightful. You have given me a new thought on farm cats. Thank you for sharing.

  4. My World

    On October 10, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Nice Post………

    thanks for share.

  5. Ethics0006

    On October 10, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Very Nice pics

  6. Karen Gross

    On October 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    My family had a dairy farm for a few years when I was a kid, and I loved cats. We had lots of cats that came and went. Farm life is dangerous for cats. Sometimes they would sleep underneath a cow, and get squished when the cow would lie down. Or they would use the cows’ feed box as a litter box, and my dad would get mad and shoot them. I resigned myself to accept that the life of a cat was not valuable. I admire the way that you care so much for all of God’s critters and the passion that you have for educating people on how to care for them.

  7. Anuradha Ramkumar

    On October 10, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    An enjoyable read. I really loved the photo.

  8. GodsGrace

    On October 11, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Nice kitty

  9. Jimmy Shilaho

    On October 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Quite a story.

  10. Darla Beck

    On October 11, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I never realized farm cats were treated so badly. I grew up on a farm and had at least 20 cats one time, but I always made sure they were fed and taken care of.

  11. Jewelstar

    On October 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Thats something to be seriously thought of.

  12. albert1jemi

    On October 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    well written

  13. eddiego65

    On October 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

    i never realized that farm cats are maltreated. Thanks for opening our minds to such realities.

  14. someone

    On January 8, 2012 at 4:41 am

    “Okay, so let us assume it got by the residents and coyotes, now the newly abandoned cat faces the farmer. Most farms are already overrun with cats (due to many farmers resisting the expense of spaying or neutering) as such one more is a burden. Abandoned cats are often shot on sight, and this is legal in some areas.”

    Well sorry cats get shot sometimes, farm animals are killed all the time, are cats really more important just because they’re pets. (I don’t support killing for fun/convenience/cruel killing, only for for food, self-defense, or to prevent suffering) Also, I don’t support spay/neuter because of health risks (Yes they get health problems from getting neutered)/surgery risks/behavior changes (I want my cats to act how they do naturally)/ etc. but I do support X-ray sterilization to control populations because it has few health/surgery risks (there is a small chance of cancer because of the radiation) and it doesn’t change their behavior. I don’t hate cats, I have 9 pet cats (indoor-outdoor) that are vaccinated and live healthy lives (6 of them are neutered because I didn’t know about the risks, one got a kidney stone, that neutering can cause, the other 3 are able to breed because few vets perform other types of sterilization) Also due to the fact that cats die more often outside of the big city/islands (which you don’t want to happen, I know) they usually DON’T overpopulate, because they are more likely to die and can easily get to new areas, unlike feral cats in cities and islands where they don’t know how to survive outside (some cats in cities) or can’t get off (islands) They don’t need to be kept from breeding, EXCEPT if they can only live in a small area, like some farms, because there isn’t enough food outside the farm.

  15. Maggie

    On September 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

    We live on a “farm” and just found an abandoned cat on our property. It is thin, frail and terribly lonely. We have a house cat that stays inside as our pet. Farm cats DO live a hard life particularly if they are more accustomed to a cozy home. I can keep her as a barn cat, but cannot bring her into our home.

    Question: Do I keep her in the barn, feeding her and providing her with water? There are coyotes and other predators. She is social and wants so badly to have our love and attention, but she won’t get it. She will be an outside cat only. Or, do I take her to be euthanized? -With the idea that living outdoors would be a rough life for a soft cat. I am sure she would adapt to barn life, but would it be a “good” life? Our shelters are overrun and I do not think they accepting new animals.


  16. Andrea

    On January 5, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I am at a terrible crossroads. My beloved cat I took everywhere (though I didn’t want a pet in the first place but I found him under a truck at my apartment building and could never locate the owner) ended up at a farm. I left him in the care of my dad for a few days, went to get him and he wouldn’t tell me where he was at. He finally told me after a couple years this past October. I went to see him but only saw the farm. I saw a few other cats that day. One seemed very friendly and happy a little on the thin side.

    The other day I saw the cat. I have never felt guilt and grief(not even the day my mom and sister died and I saw my sisters brain swelling out of her eye in the ER) the way I did as I looked into his eyes barely recognizeable. His leg was skinned for a good portion, his face swollen with infection, breath smelled infected. Eyes and nose with thin stretchy dried mucus. It was like his spirit was defeated and he was miserable. He was curled up on top of a storage counter in a little shack. I hugged him and got to feed him a can of his favorite food. He was signaled by the farmer to exit and go to a different barn to sleep by the farmer like it was a routine. He was limping and hanging his head low. He turned to look at me with an expression I will never forget. When he got to the barn and walked in alone I put my head in the door and looked. I called him by his old name. He turned and looked at me I said I was so so sorry. It was like he understood me. My dad yelled from the distance to get in the car.

    There are coyotes around too which with his injury I fear. His injury is also making him fat from lack of exercise.

    The property is really nice though. He is the alpha male with lots of female cats, a number of farm buildings made to have cat entrances, feeding stations, lots of hay bails for warmth, rafters, bird feeders, nice atmosphere, I didn’t see any farm animals. Even though the cats reproduce, he is caring for them all. He personally feeds that cat(albeit low quality cat food– 9 lives not Tiki cat)each morning. He has heated water bowl and seems to pride himself on his colony.

    I live with my dad right now who would treat me like vermin regardless if I were there or not if I got the cat back(if I could even do what it took). I plan to move eventually. But he would get the best food, love, respect and wouldn’t have coyotes around. My life would change a lot and I don’t know what the best for the cat is. Once I tore my shoulder blade out rescuing him from a car that almost hit him and it even further made me want to make it worth that cost. I want him to have the longest life possible. He looked about at deaths door when I saw him.

    I see my chance to try because the farmer is willing to let me take him to the vet if he can trap him.

    But maybe just bringing him to get better at the vet and doing what I can that way and bringing him back to the farm. I just don’t know. I am completely overwhelmed by this and it comes at a time of a lot of other deadlines for me that require focus. I can’t even breathe.

    Please advice. Do I turn my life around and risk the wrath of my dad and this man by trying to get him back, or is he happier at the farm once he gets the vet care if he lives long enough to be trapped and get there?

    I also don’t know about micro chipping. I’ve heard horror stories, but if there were not a health risk, I would like to do that so if that man were to die or he got away or something I don’t have to be constantly worried he’s at a pound getting euthanized.

  17. Brenda Nelson

    On January 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I have never had a problem with microchipping but all the chips do is if your cat is lost and then found and taken to the shelter it allows the shelter to trace the owner to come and get the cat.

    If you can trap the cat and take him to the vet for help then return to the farmer that might be the best. Your dad might be mean to the cat or give him to somebody else..
    Neutering the cat would be good really if its not already done. He probably needs to be wormed too.

    Wait until you move out, then either get that cat back if the farmer will allow or adopt another cat from the shelter and save a life, it might be difficult for this cat to go from farm to living indoors…

    Not all farm homes are bad, certainly some are worse than others, but I would not get another cat until you have moved out… its just not fair to your dad or the cat!

    Good luck

  18. peter

    On January 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    It’s terrible to abandon any house pets. Contrary to popular belief, average house cat who were raised indoor can’t fend for itself outdoors. House cats don’t know how to hunt, because their mother cats didn’t taught them. House cats are accustomed to being fed by their owners, and it can’t suddenly learn to survive on its own. If an owner can’t no longer take of its care, the owner should try to find a home for the cat. Just dumping a house cat is a terrible thing to a house cat, because it won’t survive outdoors on its own.

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