Got a good question recently from a friend re a cat's death

My friend–I’ll call him “Marty”–recently had a pet cat, whom I will call “Ford” pass away. (It’s a cat thread, but there are no photos, as I never took one of Ford.)

Ford was adopted by Marty from a farm. One of the conditions of Marty adopting Ford was that, upon Ford’s death, Marty would have Ford cremated and return to the farm to scatter Ford’s ashes. Note that Marty paid nothing for Ford; he was just taking a kitten off the farmer’s hands. (And they lived together very nicely; I can’t think of Marty without also thinking about Ford. They were that close.)

However, in the time since (Ford lived to age 16), Marty’s farmer friend sold the farm where Ford was born. The farmer is still living (in a condo now), but the farm has passed to another farmer. Marty does not know the new farmer personally, but he has contacted him, and the new farmer does not want Ford’s ashes scattered on his land.

Question: Does Marty have to make good on his promise to scatter Ford’s ashes at the farm where he was born? And if so, how does this reconcile with the fact that the current farmer does not wish to have Ford’s ashes scattered at his farm? (No, I do not know why.)

My own feeling is that, if the current farmer does not want you to scatter ashes on his property, you dont. Find some other place, or put them on the mantlepiece. Or scatter them in Ford’s favourite park (Marty lived right next to a park; Ford spent many times there, hunting, and sleeping in the sunshine.)

But that’s my feeling. I’m curious as to how the Dopers (especially legal Dopers) feel.

This is not Marty’s responsibility.
The farmer set a condition (to scatter the ashes)–and then he himself made it impossible to fullfil that condition. If he really cared so much about the cat’s ashes, he wouldn’t have sold the farm and moved to a condo.

I am not a lawyer, but:
It is illegal to trespass on the new farmer’s property against his wishes.
And it may be illegal to scatter crematory ashes anyway, depending on local laws.(Although I doubt if anybody enforces them for a cat.)

Trying to scatter the ashes on the old property is not even a question at this point. I don’t know why your friend would even entertain the idea since it’s been sold.

The only thing I wonder is whether the farmer wants the ashes or a portion of them. If he’s contactable, ask him. If he’s not, then that’s it and do with the ashes whatever your friend wants to do with them.

IMO, the request was a darned weird one to begin with, anyway.

Yeah, that’s just bizarre. I mean, it’s not like a rehoming clause where there’s risk to the animal’s well-being in play, and it’s not like there’s some deep emotional attachment to this kitty on the farmer’s part. This was a kitten someone was “taking off his hands.”

I agree with offering the farmer part of the ashes, although I rather strongly suspect the offer will be declined. Not that many people even really remember a kitten they gave away 16 years ago, much less feel such an attachment that they want to fool with the remains when living in a condo.

I would suggest that Marty call the condo farmer and tell him that Ford has passed away and that the new farm owner will not allow Ford’s ashes to be scattered at the farm. Then Marty should ask the condo farmer if he would like to go with him to the park that Ford loved so they can spread the ashes together. Then Marty should go to the park and spread Ford’s ashes, with the condo farmer coming along if he wants to.

Not sure if this is a serious thread.

Marty is under no obligation to do anything with Ford’s body accept dispose of it properly in accordance with the laws in his jurisdiction.

Farmer’s are all weird around there, are they? :slight_smile:

I’d scatter the ashes in the park that kitty enjoyed; to heck with weird old farmers.

That’s just a bizarre request. I agree it might be nice to call up the farmer to let him know of Ford’s passing. I’d see how he responds and go from there.

I also love the phrase “condo farmer”. It makes me picture condo seedlings sprouting in a field as the farmer oversees. :smiley:

Marty cared for and loved this cat for sixteen years. He doesn’t owe anyone anything.

I think this is probably coming from Marty’s grief, and desire to do right by the kitty and to to the person who gave him such a gift. Short of scattering the ashes on the farm where the new owner doesn’t want them, he should do what he feels is best.


As far as I’m concerned, whatever ritual we do after a loved one dies should be done for those grieving. With pets I’ve had, I’ve never spread ashes, if I were to do so, I’d rather spread them in a place that was meaningful to me in regard to the pet which, in this case, sounds like it would be the park. I would definitely not consider the farm since the current owner doesn’t want that.

If he really want to fulfill that promise, he can give the ashes to the old farmer and let him deal with it, but I doubt that would provide any solace to your friend. At least if the old farmer still had the farm, maybe you could have some kind of mini-ceremony and that would be worth something, but now, since he sold the farm, I’d say that you have no obligation to follow through since the conditions have changed. You may could go as far as inviting the old farmer to participate, but I don’t really see what that would add.

Really, the cat was your friends for 16 years and the old farmer’s for a few weeks. Your friend should do whatever he needs to do.

Under the doctrine of “the farm is where the farmer lives,” Marty is obligated to scatter the ashes in the condo.

I LOL’d at zoltar7’s suggestion, but for a serious answer, **LurkerInNJ **got it right.

I agree with this. The condo farmer sounds pretty weird, but maybe he has a reason for his attachment to Ford, like Ford’s mother was a favorite cat of his, or . . . something?

Wind might be your friend, but yes the request has seen to be made impossible by the other person who requested it.

You may also find a loophole in the deal, such as what really is this cat’s farm, etc.

This seems to be the best suggestion. Ford enjoyed the park for years, and it probably meant more to him than a farm he likely doesn’t remember any more. Asking the old farmer if he would like to go along is a nice touch.


I get some, shall we say, interesting questions at times.

This made me laugh!

I’d agree. The farmer voided the agreement when he changed the situation.

If Marty wants to push it:

Cremains can be spread from an airplane.*

Maybe give the new owner a day and time - and a butterfly net to keep the cremains form hitting his ground.

I have seen the device used on small planes - a forward-facing scoop shaped vaguely like the top of a wing, with a hinged “bottom” activated by pull cord. It is strapped to the wing near the cabil, and the cord routed inside.

Much neater than trying to open a window in flight and having the resultant windstorm blow the cremains all over the cabin.

I wouldn’t give a shit if the farmer still lived on the farm or not.

Marty has a 16yo emotional attachment to Ford. A much greater one than the crazy old farmer could possible have. So, Ipso facto, Marty can do whatever the hell he wants with the cat. (This doesn’t even take into consideration the amount of finances Marty spent over a 16 year period on the cat. Sheesh!)

Buy Marty a beer and forget the rest.