The secret life of a spoiled farm cat

What does a spoiled farm cat do with his day? The world may never know. But Jenny Schlecht has learned to keep doors locked when Lollipop the cat is around.

A cat stands by a door.
Lollipop plots his next mischief, which may include opening the door behind him.
Jenny Schlecht / Agweek

There I was, standing at the sink in our cattle handling barn, washing bottles.

It was late — very late and far later than normal — for the task. Instead of the 5:30 or 6 p.m. range of feeding 4-H calves and bottle calves, we didn't get started until nearly 8:30 p.m. after traveling to another small North Dakota town for an elementary volleyball jamboree. By the time everything was fed and I had volunteered to finish cleaning up, it was nearly 9:30 and very dark outside.

I returned to the barn to the main lights turned on. That already seemed a little eerie and unusual. But I made my way back to the sink with my box full of bottles and closed the door to the little kitchen/office tightly.

Moments later, the door creaked open.

I only jumped a little, though. I knew who the culprit was: our special barn cat, Lollipop. Well, he was responsible for the door. My daughter, I later learned, had left the lights on.


A blonde girl cuddles a kitten while on a Zoom call with classmates.
Lollipop as a kitten made appearances on Reanna Schlecht's classroom Zoom calls in October 2020.
Jenny Schlecht / Agweek

Lollipop was an early fall kitten in 2020, and whoever his mama was, she didn't stick with him long. As such, my daughters brought him into the house regularly for special bowls of cream or other treats and to warm up. He even made some appearances on virtual school sessions that fall.

But as I was not in want of a house cat — then or now — Lollipop needed somewhere to go that was safer and warmer than our traditional barns. As luck would have it, we had just such a place. Our newest building on the farm is warm and secure but had just a few gaps where mice had found an entrance.

Read more of Jenny Schlecht's "The Sorting Pen"

Lollipop and another kitten — Snickers, who had been slightly injured by running under my car tire in the dark — were installed in the building. Quite quickly, the frail and injured kittens, respectively, became strong and mighty hunters. And over time, Snickers learned to open the door to the office/kitchen that was kept a little warmer than the rest of the building. To keep them out of papers and off of counters, the door was locked.

They reigned supreme there for a couple years until Snickers suddenly fell ill and died within a couple days. Since then, Lollipop has wandered alone. He has rejected any offers of feline companionship we've made him. And we no longer locked the door, as he had never seemed to be the one to figure out how to open it.

We wonder often what he does with himself when we're not there. He's found his way into an upstairs storage area that is closer to the heaters. We've seen him in boxes and on top of tractors. We aren't sure if he eats mice, but he certainly leaves his prey on the doormat for us to see. But well over a year without Snickers, the little room remained empty in our absences.

That was until several times recently when my husband arrived in the morning to find the door slightly ajar, with a very content cat purring inside.

It took some time to catch him and learn his trick. He reaches his long body up to the door knob and pulls it down, using his body weight to crack it open. Then, he walks in like he owns the place.

The morning after Lollipop scared me as I was washing bottles, he did it again several times, until I finally got a video of his nonchalant stroll into the room.


We still don't know exactly what Lollipop does with his time when we're away, but the door gets locked now so that he can't scatter papers or other important items. I can only imagine his annoyance whenever he realizes that. But he's quite content to roam the rest of the building or curl up in his bed and watch us work cattle.

He'll never tell his secrets, I'm sure, but I do know that on eerie nights when I'm alone to wash calf bottles, I'm locking the door behind me.

Jenny Schlecht is Agweek's editor. She lives on a farm and ranch in Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. She can be reached at or 701-595-0425.

Opinion by Jenny Schlecht
Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at or 701-595-0425.
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