After a long life and a triumphant fight involving a $19,000 kidney transplant, Stanley the cat has used up all of his nine lives.
The Maryland kitty, belonging to Betsy Boyd, was sadly put to sleep on Friday a year after his surgery due to internal complications, The Baltimore Sun reports. He was 18.
“Stanley was the most important friend I’ve ever lost, and he’s a family member,” Boyd told the newspaper. “I really love him on the level that I love my parents, husband, my children.”
Stanley reportedly became increasingly ill over the last few weeks and was being treated by various veterinarians, Boyd told The Sun.
Last week it was discovered Stanley had contracted peritonitis, a life-threatening condition that inflames the abdomen. Because of his previous medical history and age, vets advised Boyd to avoid further treatment for her cat, The Sun said.
Even though Boyd went to extreme lengths to keep her feline friend alive previously, the Baltimore native knew it was best to put her beloved pet to sleep.
“It was such a hard decision,” Boyd told the newspaper. “I believe he would have suffered more if we hadn’t done that… I will miss him so much.”
Stanley made headlines last year after he underwent the almost $20,000 kidney transplant surgery, given to him by homeless donor cat Jay, who Boyd adopted as part of the donor agreement.
Though Boyd earned just $46,000 annually as a part-time writing professor, she didn’t hesitate to pay the hefty cost in transplant-related expenses.
“Stanley loves me as much as any human being has ever loved me and I love him the same way,” she told PEOPLE at the time. “I want him around.”
Boyd first adopted Stanley as an eight-week-old kitten and he was by her side through ups and downs including breakups, marriage to husband Michael (a freelance journalist and stay-at-home dad to their 3-year-old twins), fertility struggles and pregnancy. He even was the inspiration for the cat character in her new book.
“Stanley is like my spirit animal,” she said. “He’s the friend who has witnessed my trials and tribulations.”
In November 2016, however, Boyd noticed that, “he didn’t have as much of that Stanley spark,” losing interest in eating, chasing other kitty friends or going outside for walks on his purple leash. Boyd’s regular vet suspected kidney disease, a diagnosis confirmed by a specialist who gave Stanley three months to live.
“I started sobbing,” Boyd says. “I freaked out.”
But instead of preparing to lose her furry best friend, Boyd contacted the feline renal transplant program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital, one of only three in the country performing such procedures.
Her total out-of-pocket cost ended up totaling around $19,000, which included the transplant fees and weekly post-op blood tests, as well as payment to a local emergency vet after Stanley suffered a complication, she said.
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Though the price tag was hefty, Boyd said she’d built up savings through frugal living and is compensating by cutting back on expenses, including forgoing a new car to replace her 2009 Toyota.
“He’s my muse and my best friend,” Boyd said. “I know I did the right thing.”
While Stanley’s life was prolonged for just a little bit longer — Boyd had no regrets.
“I know he had a wonderful year of eating lots of poultry and feeling happy and well,” Boyd told The Sun of her pet who would’ve been 19 in March. “And he didn’t suffer with the transplant. He healed up at home, and he was really comfy.”
“I just wish he could have lived longer,” she added. “He was so… present, but his time came, and I had to accept it.”