An idyllic life in the country chasing mice and living in a barn may sound like the perfect solution for cat owners with pets they no longer want, but a rescue organization is warning that the vast majority of cats abandoned on rural properties will die of disease or starvation.

Sandi Lawson and Janice Richard of Adopt Me! Cat Rescue want to make it clear that house cats and barn cats don’t mix. And they say farmers often lack the resources to care for the animals they find left at the end of rural driveways, in ditches and in barns.

Fresh paw prints cover the snow outside a rundown barn near Kemptville, Ont. Lawson said it was recently home to dozens of cats dumped by their owners a few weeks ago. She said the farmer was spending $800 per month just to keep them fed.

“It's a huge burden on the farmers,” told CTV Ottawa on Monday, “Some take care of it, but others don't have the means.”

At the Kemptville-area farm alone, Lawson said she rounded up close to 60 cats. Many of them were in rough shape, diseased, starved, missing eyes, and without veterinary care.

She said most abandoned cats will die of either disease or starvation.

“This is Baron,” Lawson said while stroking one of the rescued animals, “Baron was a kitten from a barn, and he lost his eye in the process.”

Richard said her goal is to educate owners about the reality their former pets face after being abandoned on farms.

“The misconception is that, well, the farmer is going to look after them. They will have mice. That’s not what happens,” she said. “They are city cats. They are domesticated cats. They don’t know anything about the hierarchy that goes on in these barns.”

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr