Domestic cat had to live outside the home all his life

Because his wife, Sandy, was severely allergic to cats, John Spevak and Sandy decided very early on that Skyy, their beloved cat companion, should live outside the home his entire life. And he lived for 18 years. It is a novel approach which will please some people while others might disagree with it. This is a brief discussion around the welfare issues while telling the story.

John Spevak
John Spevak. Photo: MERCED STAR-SUN. We don’t have a photo of Skyy.
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It is an interesting topic because some people ask if domestic cats can live outside. It depends. If they are cared for by concerned and organised individuals it can work as is ably demonstrated in this story but if they have to fend for themselves as a feral cat and if the climatic conditions are harsh it is likely they’ll have a short lifespan and a miserable life.

In another odd twist, Spevak says that he is not a cat lover. That means he is either dislikes cats or is ambivalent about them. As he accepted Skyy he’s ambivalent. His wife is the cat lover. She found a way of having a cat despite her allergy to them.

Spevak says, with a touch of incredulity, that Skyy was a survivor and that he deserves credit for living outdoors all his life. He realises that it was a tougher existence that it should or could have been. He decided that. So both he and his wife were compromising their duty to cat welfare for their convenience. I am not saying that is a bad thing in this instance because Skyy lived a healthy life and he might have had a far worse life if things had turned out differently.

Spevak says: “He was strong and healthy; we never had to take him to see a veterinarian, other than for neutering.”

That’s remarkable. Sky had good genes by the sound of it. And “From my perspective Skyy led a good life” says Spevak. They adopted him as a kitten from a litter delivered by a mother who appeared from nowhere uninvited and gave birth under the crawl space of their neighbour. So he was an unwanted cat until they wanted him.

They rescued him and gave him a life. They feed him dry cat food with the occasional treat. Pretty basic in truth. They could have done a bit better there and included some more canned foods of high quality. It is better for a cat’s health as it has a water content that is similar to the mouse.

They made a little den for Skyy in their garage: “a small cardboard box filled with old flannel shirts”. Nice. He lived in their backyards. Sometimes he’d pop into their home but waited to be picked up and decanted outside. He knew the rules.

Spevak thinks that Skyy was a cat of a certain cat breed, perhaps a Birman but he has this wrong. Skyy was random bred but beautiful, “light gray with streaks of white and blue eyes. He grew into a handsome, sleek and agile cat.”

Skyy was a good mouser so he was able to supplement his diet with the real thing. It appears that he was never dewormed. It is likely that he had parasitic intestinal worms from eating mice but clearly cats are able to live with a minor infestation of worms. I am sure that the majority of feral cats have them.

Skyy died in a very untroublesome way. One day at 18 years old he climbed into a new, cosy cat house they had constructed or bought for him, for the first time and fell asleep, permanently. He crossed the rainbow bridge without any fuss. He died as he lived. An agreeable and cooperative cat.

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