Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stop Thinking Pink.

If the Pink Panther got breast cancer, wearing a pink ribbon wouldn't help him.

The "pink" foundation - aka Susan G. Komen for the Cure - was created in 1982 to support breast cancer survivors and raise money to research a cure. Kudos to the Komen organization's marketing department, because the color pink is now synonymous with breast cancer. The organization and their network of survivors and supports have raised over $1.5 billion dollars, at least 75% of which has gone into their programs, such as research grants and scholarships. I'm sure it's a wonderful organization.

Today, I received a postcard informing me that Purina Mills, a company that makes food for horses, goats, chickens and rabbits, is packing that food in limited edition pink bags and a portion of the sales of those bags of food will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Purina is organizing at least 50 awareness and fundraising events for the organization. In the past, I have seen the pink ribbon branding of the Komen organization on Purina Cat Chow. Press releases and articles suggest that this decision is based on cancer victims' relationships with their pets.

Meanwhile, more pets are dying of cancer, and my internet searches today are not finding any evidence that Purina is supporting veterinary cancer research. If the company is donating to research into treatment of animal cancers, they're not very vocal about it.

Then I wondered if perhaps I was mistaken about the Komen organization. So, I did a search for "cat" on the Komen website and nine results came up. Not one of them had anything to do with feline cancer.
  • 4 - references to the Purina partnership
  • 3 - references to CAT scans
  • 2 - references to an herb known as cat's claw

A search for "feline" found nothing. A search for "veterinary" found one reference to using pets for therapy.

This is Mah-Mah. She arrived at our home in the winter of 2000, with two kittens in tow. It took several months (and another four kittens) before she trusted us enough to go into a carrier. We had her spayed, brought her into our home, and loved her until she died of breast cancer in 2007, about three months after this photo was taken.

My husband found the lump on her chest while petting her belly one evening. She had two surgeries, and had just recovered from the second when she began coughing. The cancer had spread to her lungs.

Research is being done in the field of veterinary cancer, and many resources exist to help pet owners recognize the warning signs. Here are some links:

Veterinary Cancer Society - an organization for veterinary professionals & researchers
Pet Cancer Awareness - an organization created by Blue Buffalo Natural Dog & Cat Foods
New York Online Access to Health -health information site started by librarians

People who consider their pets to be family members buy quality food, treats, and other products because we want them to live long, healthy, happy lives. Purina should support that tradition by raising awareness of animal cancers and by supporting pet health research at the same levels and with the same marketing power that they are putting into this humans-only organization. Leave the pink ribbons for the people products.