For a normal domestic cat, the average life expectancy is about 15 years, but for Stanley, a domestic cat from Baltimore, its pretty much the beginning of another new. Stanley is enjoying a new lease on life, having just celebrated his 18th birthday, all thanks to his owners, who decided to call off plans to buy a new car with their savings and instead paid $19,000 for a kidney transplant when Stanley was 17 years old, CBS Baltimore reports. According to an essay Betsy Boyd wrote for Ozy.com, her cat had stage 4 renal failure, which required surgery as well as a kidney from a donor cat.

A University of Baltimore professor, Boyd defended her and her husband’s decision, because they consider Stanley to be more than just a pet. Boyd said, “He’s seen me through the worst moments of my life. He’s an old cat. He doesn’t run around as much as he used to. He seems almost human to me. He’s a friend, and I believe that this friend wanted to live, so I paid for the surgery.”

Costs continue to mount, as pricey antirejection medication and blood tests run into the hundreds. The couple also adopted the 2-year-old donor cat, Jay.

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Boyd told CBS that her story has been met with some “tacky and cruel” reactions, and even friends have questioned her decision. “One close friend told me she wanted to do an intervention to stop me from spending my ‘sons’ tuition money,’ so I stopped telling friends,” the mother of twins wrote in her essay.

Regardless of the criticism, she hasn’t regretted her decision and remains optimistic about Stanley’s longevity. “Twenty-five would be great,” she said of his lifespan. “I had always hoped for 30.”

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