Stanley, A 17-Year-Old Cat, Gets $19,000 Kidney Transplant

One condition to perform the transplant was that Stanley's owner had to adopt the donor cat.

black and white cat
hannadarzy / Shutterstock

One condition to perform the transplant was that Stanley's owner had to adopt the donor cat.

Betsy Boyd truly loves her cats. In fact, she loves them so much that four months ago she spent nearly half her annual salary on a kidney transplant for Stanley, her 17-year-old cat.

According to The Journal Gazette, Stanley was diagnosed with renal insufficiency in November 2016. The beautiful black and white cat was given just three months to live. But Boyd wasn’t about to give up on her beloved pet. Nancy Kauder, Stanley’s vet at Belvedere Veterinary Center, told Boyd a former classmate did kidney transplants at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia, which prompted Boyd to do research.

Not everyone was on board with Boyd’s plan to save Stanley. The cost of the surgery was an astronomical $19,000, and her friends thought that was too much to spend on such an old cat.

Boyd is not a wealthy woman. She earns about $46,000 a year as a part-time member of the University of Baltimore’s creative writing faculty. Her husband, Michael Yockel, is a freelance journalist who stays home to care for their twin sons, 3-year-old Texas and Miner. The couple bought their home in Baltimore’s Belair-Edson neighborhood for $95,000 – and paid cash.

Boyd says she makes it work.

“I’m smart with money. I’m very frugal. I drive a used car and wear clothing from consignment stores, and I have no debt at all. The message I’d like to get across is that if you save your money carefully, you can spend $19,000 on something that moves you.”

Tabby cat looking camera
  Pashin Georgiy / Shutterstock

Apparently, nothing moves her more than Stanley, and with the support of Michael, she was unstoppable in her quest to save her kitty.

Unfortunately, even Stanley’s renal specialist was hesitant about going ahead with the surgery on the aging cat. According to the ASPCA, indoor cats live on average between 13 and 17 years; however, after examining Stanley, the veterinarians at Ryan reconsidered. Apart from his kidneys, Stanley was in good health. He ate well when he was on medication. This cat wasn’t ready to die.

“If he had seemed weak or frightened, I wouldn’t have pursued this,” Boyd said. “But, he never seemed daunted by all the vet visits, and there was something about his purr. I could feel his spirit really strongly.”

One condition to perform the transplant on Stanley was that Boyd had to adopt the donor cat, a 2-year-old tabby named Jay. That would bring the total number of cats in her household to six. She happily agreed.

Both cats are thriving after the November 28 surgery. Stanley started showing renewed strength. After his mandated one-month confinement to a dog crate had ended, he returned happily to his old routines, including walks alongside Boyd at the end of a purple leash.

Though Boyd realizes there are no guarantees, she has no regrets.

“Anything could happen. If Stan did pass away sooner rather than later, I’d know I had done what I could for him. We’ve already had a few really good weeks. He’s really happy, and that alone is worth the price.”

She’s counting the days until May 28, when Stanley will pass the six-month post-surgical milestone. At that point, his odds of long-term survival improve dramatically.

“Knowing Stanley as I do,” she said, “I think he’s one of those cats who could make it to age 25.”

If Stanley beats the odds and lives to be 25, he wouldn’t break the record for the longest-living cat

The Telegraph reports that the Guinness Book of World Records record for the longest living cat belongs to Texas cat Crème Puff from Austin, TX, who lived to the grand old age of 38. The second place winner was Scooter, a Siamese from Mansfield, Texas, who according to Guinness lived to the age of 30.