Purina Pays More Homage To Madonna And Child Motif, For Some Strange Reason

Yesterday we posted about how a package of Purina Naturals cat food bore striking resemblance to the Madonna And Child motif, a central icon of Christianity, represented in hundreds of paintings through thousands of years of human history.

Today, we went to the grocery store and happened across the pet food section. Most of the bags just had cats on them. Two more packages showed female owners cradling a cat in their arm. Both were made by Purina.

Packaging design choices are often made at random, often by studying bird bones, lofting balloons, examining the lumps on men’s heads, and by games of spin the bottle, so it’s just one of life’s little coincidences that one of the images burned into humanity’s collective consciousness shows up on a bag of cat food. Marketing isn’t about manipulation, it’s about fun, family, and togetherness.

More snaps, inside…





And for editorial balance, some dog food.




Edit Your Comment

  1. superlayne says:

    I have that kitten chow…The one in the yellow bag.
    Never made that connection, though.

    The power of Christ compels me to buy cat food? D:

  2. faust1200 says:

    Ok the first story was kinda cute. This is just plain silliness now. Why should we be surprised that graphic artists are inspired by historical art? I think Consumerist ‘pounces’ on any excuse to put cats on the story photo! (Seriously, how many photos have cats on them????)

  3. zolielo says:

    I thought that gawker media just loves cats? The best being the Wanky [the creepy] The Safety Cat over on jalopnik.

  4. The Bigger Unit says:

    As a kid I don’t recall going nuts very often…but man, one time my dad bought this cat food that had a picture of a cat I didn’t like on it. I guess the cat was ugly. I went crazy in the grocery store. My dad had to relent and get the cat food with the cat that I liked on it, my actual cat be damned if she didn’t like that flavor food.

    My point? I forget. But I remember that incident in my early life, cause it was the only time I recall going batshit in a store (or anywhere really..I was pretty even-keeled as a kid). All because of package design. Hooray marketing!!

  5. mschlock says:

    So…a female embracing anything smaller than herself is automatically the Virgin Mary? Pardon me while I pry my tongue out of my cheek.

    I heartily endorse the use of cats on all tax-related posts, however.

  6. zl9600 says:

    I’m in the package design business and fully endorse the practice you mention to come up with good packaging that makes people buy.

    However, nothing other than sheer see-and-say unimaginative design is at work here and I assure you it has nothing to do with the Virgin (I agree with mschlock) and everything to do with the sad, sad fact they could not think of how else to depict a person and a cat.

    The way I hold one is away from me while it’s claws are extended. Unfortunately the lump on Ben’s head makes it clear to me in my studies that this would not sell food for cats.

    I’m also sure the statistical fact that more women than men own cats by a huge, huge margin (and it’s usually the really weird ones who talk to them and own over 3) has NOTHING to do with the females on the package.

  7. kweee says:

    I think this violates my constitutional rights to a separation of church and pet food. Better call my congressmen (but not the congresswomen; they’re too busy holding cats).

  8. They’re all infected by Toxoplasmosis Gondii!!!

  9. LAGirl says:

    sure, sure…just another excuse for the ‘crazy cat ladies’ at the Consumerist to post cute kitty pix.

  10. chrismar says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If the pet people are gonna get flak for their logo, then the bread people gotta get flak for theirs too.

    For the record: I’m not necessarily for or against flaking either, but I think it’s a bit unfair to single out Purina. Especially when its quite apparent that many companies use popular and/or Christian art as a basis for their logos.

  11. Ravenwaift says:

    I think that the first picture is of a young girl. If they are copied the madonna-child thing, then Purina is now creepy.

    Besides, look at what is on the package and who it is supposed to appeal too. The first one is of a little girl and a young cat- really cute picture really. The second has a woman and a kitten. Both genders pretty much would rather see a woman on the cover of a product than a man. The only products where men are featured are “manly” products- cologne, alcohol, etc. And cat food is generally going to have a cat on it.

    I think that this is less madonna-child and more attractive woman/cute little girl-fluffy cat.

  12. Neev says:

    Panera Bread is, in fact, the Holy Grail of bread-stuffs, so I find this logo to be fitting.

    That said, I’m pretty sure plenty of women have held babies/bread/cats long before the Virgin Mary existed. I think we need stricter criteria for Mary-ness. For example, if the logo spontaniously cries tears of blood, then we can safely say that it is, indeed, a reference to the Virgin Mary.

  13. AcilletaM says:

    They’re just showing their target audience: crazy cat ladies.

  14. AcilletaM says:

    @LAGirl: Damn. Should have read your comment first.

  15. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    i’m at yur Madonna statue
    worshipin’ yur Virgin Mary

    Happy Easter, comrades!

  16. ShadeWalker says:

    A woman holding her child imagery that the Madonna and Christ symbolism stems from the idea of a mother lovingly holding her child. So the product choosing such imagery is supposed to invoke a feeling of motherly love towards a cat. Theoretically, it makes you want to buy it because it invokes a motherhood instict for your cat.

    i think it’s a great idea to use that kind of imagery for cat food. why? because it’s part of their branding scheme that their products instill a sense of motherly love.

    so for christians, when they see the imagery, they won’t outright think of the Madonna and Christ but maybe the subconciously will which will make them want to buy the product.

  17. CumaeanSibyl says:

    For heaven’s sake, Christianity didn’t invent holding things.

  18. yakkyjoe says:

    Most of you should know that Purina makes really crappy catfood. Even their best product is chock full of by-products[beaks and necks etc]. Who really cares about the front of the package…..you should care about the ingredient list on the side of the package.