Dear Santa, I’ve been so very good this year. Could you please bring me a miniature cow? I promise I’ll take excellent care of it. Please, please, pleaaaaaase!
While it might sound ridiculous, miniature cows have become a much-requested holiday gift in recent years.
“Just had one picked up this morning,” Allie Sine, a rancher in Wright City, Mo., said Thursday.
The animal, a brown micro heifer, cost $10,000 and was headed elsewhere in Missouri to be a surprise Christmas present for a 3-year-old girl. It was one of more than 15 miniature cows that Ms. Sine, 27, said she had sold this holiday season.
“At Christmastime it really picks up,” she said. “Usually, the wife has been wanting one and the husband comes around to it.”
The popularity of mini cows can be credited, at least in part, to TikTok, where videos of the creatures have earned millions of views. Ms. Sine, who goes by @minimooos on the platform, has 742,000 followers.
Once you’ve seen one of her videos, it’s easy to understand why the animals have become highly sought after. Miniature cows are cute and fluffy. They look like somebody aimed a shrink ray at a regular cow and fired.
“They’re like golden retriever dogs,” Ms. Sine said. “You can just walk out there and love all over them.”
Alyssa Rorah, a 30-year-old rancher in Maquoketa, Iowa, seconded that.
“They’ll run around and play with you,” said Ms. Rorah, who also has a popular TikTok account devoted to small cows. “I get videos all the time from families who have their kids running around in the backyard and their cows are playing with the kids.”
The smallest cows, classified as microminiature, stand under 36 inches at full maturity, while a miniature can be as tall as 42 inches. About one-third the size of a standard cow, they are still plenty hefty. A miniature cow can range from 500 to 650 pounds, Ms. Sine said, and live as long as 20 years.
Despite their cuteness and dog-like mannerisms, they are not meant to be kept indoors.
“I have seen some very popular people on TikTok who do keep them in their home and other things that aren’t realistic,” Ms. Rorah said. She suggested that some people may depict them as indoor pets only on their social media accounts. “In reality,” she continued, “that’s not what it looks like every day, to have your cow in the house. I do think that is misleading.”
Ms. Sine noted a morning routine video posted by a cow-fluencer that showed a woman waking up and giving a kiss to the little cow in the tiny pen next to her bed.
“I couldn’t imagine the smell,” Ms. Sine said.
(In fairness, the cow’s owner explains in the video caption that she was filming the baby cow’s last day indoors, before it headed to its permanent home in the barn.)
Ms. Sine said that she was very particular about who gets to buy one of her cows, which range in price from $8,000 to $20,000. She gently weeds people out by asking them how many acres of land they have and if they already have other livestock.
“We get a lot of people who reach out and they’ll say, ‘Well, we just have a dog.’” Ms. Sine said. “To those, we’ll just say ‘No.’”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends giving pets only to people who have demonstrated an interest in caring for them and urges would-be miniature cow buyers to think ahead. “There are fewer facilities that can take them in, should they not be a fit for the recipient’s lifestyle,” an A.S.P.C.A. spokesperson said.
Still, on TikTok at least, the popularity of little cows continues to grow.
In a recent video, the comedian Ashley Gutermuth warned people against being tricked by social media’s rosy depiction of what it means for the average suburbanite to share a home with a tiny cow: “You can’t have a micro cow,” the comedian says. “You cannot have an indoor cow. You live in a cul-de-sac!”