$15K for Your Cat's Kidney Transplant: Is It Worth It?

Sarah Zhang explores the question in the 'Atlantic'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2022 7:45 AM CST
Your Cat's Kidney Transplant Will Cost $15K
Stock image.   (Getty / Nadya So)

It's a provocative question: "How much would you pay to save your cat's life?" It's also the headline of Sarah Zhang's piece in the Atlantic about people willing to pay $15,000 to get their ailing cat a kidney transplant. That's the going price for the procedure at the University of Georgia's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and people from around the country and as far away as Moscow have shelled out for the surgery, which typically extends the cat's life about two years. Figuring out whether it's worth it gets complicated, and Zhang talks to everyone involved, from owners (many of whom do not want to be identified for fear of being judged) to veterinary surgeon Chad Schmiedt, one of the few surgeons anywhere who performs kidney transplants on cats.

Zhang argues that the "unease" people feel with the idea of so much money being spent on a pet is really "an unease with the status of pets." Zhang frames her story amid the backdrop of our changing attitudes toward pets—contrast our treatment of them today to that of our grandparents' era, for example. "They are not simply property, as pet owner implies, nor are they fully equivalent to children, as pet parent implies," writes Zhang. "They occupy a space in between." One interesting facet of all this: The kidney donors are living cats, who, of course, cannot give their consent to losing a kidney. But they are typically cats who were destined to spend their lives in labs, and they do get something in return: The standard practice is for the family whose cat received the kidney to adopt the donor cat as well. (Read the full story.)

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