Purina On Virgin Mary-Esque Packaging: They "Reflect The Close Bond Between The Consumer And Their Pet."

We received a response tonight to the inquiry we sent Purina on 4/09/07 asking if there was any truth to the rumors (which we spread) that the recurrent “Woman And Kitty” imagery that bedecks numbers of their pet food packages seemed to recall, if not draw directly from, the “Madonna And Child” motif (undoubtedly to serve manipulative marketing ends).

We wrote:

Dear Purina,

Me and my kitty love Purina Naturals! It’s the purrrfect fuel for keeping her coat lustrous and her eyes shiny.

I was looking around at other Purina brands on the website and I noticed a lot of the packages show a female cradling a cat. I’m fond of religious art history and couldn’t help but notice that it sorta looks like those Madonna and Child paintings. Is there any truth to that?

Either way, Mittens thinks Purina Naturals is heavenly!

They responded:

Thank you for contacting Nestl

Purina PetCare Company.

We appreciate your patience while we investigated your inquiry. We have been in contact with the appropriate individuals within the company and have been advised that the images are intended to reflect the close bond between the consumer and their pet.

We hope this information is helpful and that you will let us know if you have any other questions.

Again, thank you for visiting our web site.

Good thing we got thought settled. Now we’re off to give our kitten his communion, oops, we mean Purina Natural snack. — BEN POPKEN

Dear Purina: Why Do You Love The Virgin Mary So?
Purina Pays More Homage To Madonna And Child Motif, For Some Strange Reason
Purina Cat Food Logo Rips Off Christianity


Edit Your Comment

  1. antirem says:

    I dont think that the link between the two is big enough to make a case out of… in the first post about this it seemed like there were a lot of others with the same opinion but this is the third post on the same thing.

  2. AndyMan1 says:

    Ok, seriously, what is the point of these posts? Are you trying to call them out on religious imagery to make them change their bag? Just pointing out “teehee they look the same”?

    It’s cat food. It’s not a big deal. Sheesh.

  3. RST1123 says:

    I think they’re trying to draw upon the relationship between an infant and a kitten.

  4. Rajio says:

    this is really absurd. stop this purina garbage. it’s really whittling away at consumerist’s credibility. Soon people would rather read cat fancy for consumer advocacy.

  5. ghettoimp says:

    Maybe instead of trying to read some weird religious meaning into Purina’s labeling, we should be thankful that they haven’t had to recall any of their pet food.

  6. Uncool says:

    As an art historian, I think this is hilarious and wonderful. A lot of popular culture imagery comes from fine art imagery. Perhaps this was an unconscious portrayal of owner and pet but I think the question to Purina is all in good fun.

  7. Jim C. says:

    Earlier, Ben posted how to tie a produce bag.
    Now he hints at a Xian conspiracy in an image on a cat food bag?

    Ben, why have you posted these seriously lame things?

    Actually, some people contend the devotion to Mary and the child Jesus was a replacement for the cult of Isis and the infant Osiris. So this is really an ancient Egyptian conspiracy. I’ll let someone else follow the absurdity.

  8. Hexum2600 says:

    Infant Osiris or Horus?

  9. faust1200 says:

    Cat photo –> Cat story. Hey c’mon that’s progress!

  10. mantari says:

    I can kind of see it. But could it be that it is more of an archetypal image than a religious one?

  11. PDQ says:

    What they should really do is feature an obviously gay, West Hollywood man with his pussy cat or his puppy dog. There is no pet more spoiled than one belonging to a WEHO gay boy.

    Oops….middle America might not appreciate an image of Skip and his cat Pussy Galore or his Poodle named Butch. My bad.

  12. thejbs says:

    here’s the big secret:

    Art directors are pretty much unoriginal idiots – they are subconsciously regurgitating imagery stuck in thier heads, and guess what: Christian Art has been around a loooong time.

  13. MadMolecule says:

    Every cat-owner I know holds their cat this way. It appears the only explanation is that they’re all in on the Great Judeo-Christian-Feline Conspiracy.

    Coming next summer to your local multiplex: The DaFriskies Code.

    Seriously, folks, these posts are lame.

  14. Buran says:

    Oh, come on. Let it die already.

  15. FLConsumer says:

    How dare the Catholic church rip off Purina! Where’s the copyright infringement lawsuits at? Maybe they’ll get around to suing Purina after they’ve finished all of the cases of priests diddling little boys.

  16. runningwolf says:

    While I’m not exactly sure how bag-o-cat-lumps decoration has to do with consumer advocacy. Though, the issue does seem to raise an interesting schism in the readership:

    Are Consumerists cat people or dog people?

    I for one am a dog person. Cats, while fuzzy and cute, are not very tender.

  17. a says:

    I’m going to go rip off Madonna and child artwork. By which, of course, I mean I’m going to hug my cat.

    When I have children, though, I’ll be sure not to ever hug them, because I am against blatant plagiarism.


  18. informer says:


    I love the idea behind the Consumerist, but Ben, sometimes your douchebaggery really makes this site hard to read…

    In any case, suppose Purina did rip off the Virgin Mary. Who the hell cares?! Are you afraid they are trying to indoctrinate your cat?

  19. EtherealStrife says:

    @Consumerist: You need to get out more

    In other news, Mr. Pibb’s head is Jesus-esque! *gasp*

  20. philbert says:

    This is just dumb!

  21. madktdisease says:

    lamest non-issue ever.

  22. MisterE says:

    Hasn’t anybody noticed that Purina never acknowledged the original question concerning the art? Yes, it’s a blatant copy – but instead of being direct about it, they give a vague “no answer” response. I’m surprised Ben settled and accepted Purina’s bullshit response; given this is a consumer advocate website. I would expect better.

  23. Antediluvian says:

    @MisterE: Haven’t you noticed the original question was asked in a manner to make it seem as if it were being posed by a moron?
    “Me and kitty love”
    “purrrfect fuel”
    “Mittens thinks”
    I’m impressed Purina didn’t just throw the letter out.
    And deeply disappointed that Ben & Co are reading way way WAY too much into every image of a woman holding a small child or animal.
    Hey, according to the letter, he’s “fond of religious art history,” so wouldn’t he already know the answer?

  24. j.a.s.o.n says:

    This has to be how the majority of the people in the world cradle their children and their cat. Christianity wasn’t the originator of the pose, and Purina isn’t ripping them off. Please, please, please, put your energy into real issues.

  25. joyflop says:

    I can’t believe the number of posts that have been devoted to this! Everyone knows you are supposed to hold cats upside down!

    I hope this is the last one concerning this (non)subject matter. It was old the first time around. I love Consumerist, but this nit-picky-ness really got on my nerves:/

  26. FLConsumer says:

    @joyflop: Is that before or after you put them into the washing machine?

    A real Cat Washing Machine.

  27. John Stracke says:

    @Hexum2600: Yes, Horus. Christ-as-a-man was invented by merging the Horus stories with the earlier mystical tradition that saw Christ as Yahweh’s agent in the world.

  28. akira says:

    Sometimes a cat food bag is just that…a cat food bag. It’s like the dog’s butthole that resembled Jesus. People see what they want.

  29. TinaB says:

    You people are a bunch of whiners! I like the kitty posts, no matter how far they’re looking into it. It’s a nice change from all the other “Comcast killed a bunch of customers” entries. Keep it up Ben!

  30. royal72 says:

    4 of 5 deities prefer purina brand pet food for their cats.

  31. joyflop says:

    @FLConsumer: tee hee! before *and* after :D

  32. elbuzzard says:

    May this be the last post on this. This site’s anti-religious attitude is really quite naive and childish.

    Guess what, religions exist. Look at it from a purely historical point-of-view, if you are personally bothered by personal issues.

  33. somefatchick says:

    MadMolecule says: “Every cat-owner I know holds their cat this way.”

    My cat would eat my face if I tried to hold her this way! But DAMN does she love that Purina Naturals!

  34. elbuzzard says:

    I apparently work in the department of redundancy department.

  35. Ben, after all the criticism I just wanted to remind you that I am sure that we all still love you and everything you do for the consumerist. Most of these comments are right however but please keep up the good work with the rest of consumerist.

  36. JohnMc says:

    Folks I am with the other posters here. There are times when things can just be an odd mix of commanality. This is one of them. This is your third or fourth post on the issue. One would almost make the observation that there is antireligious undertone to this dogmatic pursuit.

  37. MadMolecule says:

    runningwolf said: “I for one am a dog person. Cats, while fuzzy and cute, are not very tender.”

    Dude, you’re not cooking them right.