Did you hear the story of Stanley? The 17-year-old Baltimore cat needed a $19,000 kidney transplant in late 2017.
What would you do in that situation? In our family, we’d do a really quick calculation:
Super Old Cat + Really Expensive Operation = Mandatory Cat ‘Separation’ from Family
How old is 17 in human years? You might think that you’d simply multiply the cat’s age by seven, but that’s a rookie mistake that doesn’t take into account the cat’s environment, non-linear aging, etc. I found this handy chart online:
Then I found this and this cat age calculator online, which told me a 17-year-old cat is actually 84 or 78, respectively. The younger age is compliments of the Purina calculator, which wants you to maintain hope – and cat food purchases – to the bitter end.
How much is $19,000? Depends on your income or net worth, I suppose. To me, it seems like a lot.
For the owner of Stanley, it was 41% of her $46,000 salary. But Betsy Boyd is far from a spendthrift. She and her husband are very frugal with no debt – they drive a used car and wear consignment clothing.
So they went for it on November 28, 2017, giving Stanley a new kidney at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia.
What Stanley’s Owner Gets Right
“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,” she told the Baltimore Sun in March 2018.
I think that’s a solid message. As our daughter Pippa is looking at colleges, we’ve told her to not focus too intently on cost – tuition, room and board, or travel to and fro. It’s a factor, but one of a handful.
And yes, I know not everyone has that luxury. Importantly, she knows too. We’ve been blessed, but we also scrimp and save, so that we can splurge on things like Hamilton on Broadway, a trip to Belize, or $250,000 in private school tuition.
What Stanley’s Owner Gets Wrong
The bible is filled with examples of people who clung too tightly to material things:
- The rich man who rejected Jesus’ offer of salvation because it required giving up his possessions (Mark 10:17-31)
- The couple – Ananias and Sapphira – who were struck dead for claiming to donate all their possessions, while secretly withholding some (Acts 5:1-11)
- The rich fool who stored up things so he could take it easy, but then lost his life (Luke 12:13-21)
The same holds true of relationships – with people or pets. We must hold loosely to the things of this world, so that we don’t lose grip on the Kingdom to come.
Especially since we don’t really know when our number will be called. The rich fool certainly didn’t: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
Neither did Stanley or his owner. A few months after the surgery, Ms. Boyd said: “Knowing Stanley as I do, I think he’s one of those cats who could make it to age 25.”
Nine months later, in December 2018, he passed away at age 18.
The good news: the Boyds adopted the kidney donor – a 2-year-old tabby named Jay – who continues to thrive.
What’s the most money you’ve ever spent on a pet? Was it worth it?