Betsy Boyd earns just $46,000 a year, working as a part-time writing professor, and her husband Michael is a freelance journalist and a stay-at-home dad for their 3-year-old twin boys. They’re not exactly rolling in dough, but when presented with the chance to save their favorite cat’s life in exchange for $19,000, they didn’t hesitate. They even agreed to adopt his donor after the transplant, just so they could have Stanley a little longer.
“Stanley loves me as much as any human being has ever loved me and I love him the same way, I want him around,” Betsy recently told PEOPLE Magazine. “I love all my cats, but Stanley is the only one who acts like a human being trapped in a cat’s body. He’s so vocal and communicative. He maintains eye contact better than any cat I’ve ever known. When I’m at work, he waits at the window or front door for me to come home, just like a dog.”
Boyd, from Baltimore, in Maryland, learned about Stanley’s renal insufficiency in November 2016, when a specialist gave the cat only three months to live. But Stanley outlived that dire prognosis, which only made his owner want to help him even more. So when her veterinarian mentioned that a former colleague performed kidney transplants on cats, she decided to investigate.
At first, Betsy experienced some pushback from family and friends, who kept telling her that it wasn’t worth spending a small fortune on a cat as old as Stanley, and that the money could go toward college savings for her twins. But she considered Stanley family as well, so using the money she and her husband had been saving for a new car to save his life was more than worth it.
Doctors at Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia, where Stanley was supposed to undergo the transplant, didn’t exactly encourage Betsy Boyd to go ahead with the surgery either. They had serious concerns that the cat could pull through it, due to his advanced age, but upon examining the cat, they reconsidered. Apart from his kidneys, he was in good health, ate well and was on medication.
After finding a suitable donor, Stanley the cat was ready to undergo the transplant. It was conducted by a team of vets at Ryan Veterinary Hospital, and everything went according to plan. After a one-month confinement to a dog crate, Stanley was back to his own self again, playing with cat friends, going outside and spending time with Betsy.
Stanley is not out of the woods yet, as things sometimes go wrong in the first few months after a transplant, but Boyd is happy and grateful for every extra day she spends around her favorite cat.
“He’s on immunosuppressant drugs, so he could get an infection,” Boyd told the Baltimore Sun. “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.”
Betsy Boyd is counting the days to May 28, when Stanley will pass the six-month post-surgical milestone, but she’s confident he’s going to make it.
“Knowing Stanley as I do, I think he’s one of those cats who could make it to age 25,” she said.
According to the ASPCA, indoor cats live on average between 13 and 17 years, but this wouldn’t be the first time Stanley beat the odds.