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Two Paws for Purina

September 2, 2010  6:03 AM

Recently Kevin came across a website from Purina that had a section on vaccinations. On the opening page there was a picture of someone about to give a cat a vaccination very close to the scruff area. This is of course bad news for cats who develop VAS because it makes it harder to remove the tumor and get clean margins. An e-mail was sent to Purina and they very willingly agreed to change the picture! Someone from Purina sent this e-mail back:

Good Afternoon Kevin,

I apologise for the delay in replying to your concerns regarding the picture of a cat being vaccinated on our website, thank you for your patience. After communicating with our consulting Veterinarian, Purina New Zealand acknowledges that the picture shown, while not actually depicting a vaccination in the scruff of the neck but along the dorsum (back), does not reflect best practice.

Vaccine related sarcoma's are rare in New Zealand as we do not vaccinate for rabies (rabies is not present in New Zealand). However, the guidelines for the giving of vaccines to cats has changed in New Zealand as they have changed in America.

The guidelines in New Zealand are as follows:

Although the risk of vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS) in cats is low, to facilitate treatment should the need arise, non-adjuvanted (including live) vaccines should be administered subcutaneously laterally over the shoulder, being careful to avoid the midline or inter-scapular space and adjuvanted killed vaccines subcutaneously on the lateral side of the hind limb as distally as possible.  These recommendations should be followed as far as is practicable and it is recommended that the anatomical location of the vaccination site is noted in clinical records. 

The photo was sourced from Purina United Kingdom file photos and we will now look to change or delete the picture, this may take us a few weeks to do so. Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention, as we do seek to promote best practice in animal care and welfare.


If you have any further queries you are welcome to e-mail us at AskPurina@nz.nestle.com. Please note the below 0800 number is a New Zealand phone number and the times given are standard New Zealand time.

Kind regards

Shivaun S.
Pet Care Advisor

The photo in question:


All I can say is HOORAY FOR PURINA! They at least listened to a caregiver's concerns about vaccinating in a hard to operate area. New protocols call for different injection site areas so the tumor can be removed more easily. Most veterinarian's follow these new protocols and give the vaccinations in certain predetermined areas so they are more easily identified. Fortunately my vet in Tucson did vaccinate me in the hind leg so the tumor was accessible and the radiation treatment was less invasive. If only the pharmaceutical companies were as responsible as Purina in acknowledging their errors by not listing the adverse side effects of these vaccinations and giving the caregivers the choice of informed consent, many cat lives could be saved. It is a no brainer, if you do not know the risks, how do you know what to look for? I have had a few e-mails from people who told me they suspect their cat died from VAS but they knew nothing of it.

On the subject of pharmaceutical companies, no word yet from Boehringer-Ingelheim. Kevin sent them a large (VERY LARGE!) detailed packet outlining my diagnosis, treatment and post op care. In my case, it was easy to narrow down my vaccination site sarcoma to a Ft. Dodge rabies vaccination that I received in September 2007. Fortunately for me, due to a busy life, a major move, work, etc, my vaccinations were not followed up on so I received no more vaccinations AFTER the Ft. Dodge one and there were none in that area prior to that one. Kevin has asked Boehringer-Ingelheim for compensation so if they do not respond, the next step will be litigation. Actually, that is what is expected and hoped for. A high profile litigation case would really bring this into the spotlight, something that is really needed. Boehringer-Ingelheim had sales in excess of $600 million dollars in veterinarian medicine for the beginning of 2010 alone.


You would think with such a profitable area for their company, they could afford to invest a little into disclosure literature and inform caregivers of the risks involved in vaccinations. Boehringer Ingelheim goes to great lengths to inform the HUMAN population about adverse side effects of their medicines but they say NOTHING about the risks with vaccinations. If you look at the warnings alone for ONE of their medicines, Spiriva for example, they go to great lengths to let you know what to expect, look for and do in the event of an adverse side effect.


It is of course not just Boehringer Ingelheim who is guilty of this practice, all the major manufacturers of vaccinations do the same thing. This needs to change! Profits over animal safety I guess.

Things in general are good here. I have another follow up appointment with the oncologist soon and then I have to have my first CT scan since being home. My scar is healing well but my fur is slowly coming back. Right now there is just some stubble but it feels so good when Kevin rubs it backwards. It always makes me purr. My food has been good, I get whatever I want. I am putting on some weight again which is good. They also started popping a small Pepcid tablet in me every day so when I see that bottle come out I flee. I am happy to say I fight bravely when they try to give it to me and it takes two to get it down me. Kevin was kind of sneaky the other day. After they forced my mouth open and held it shut, Kevin blasted me with a puff of air from his mouth and it startled me so much it forced me to swallow the pill. I know where you sleep Kevin! Do not be surprised if you find something in your mouth one morning!

Everyone went out and dined lavishly last night and left me here alone. I heard them talk about the big steaks followed by some ice cream desert (I LOVE ICE CREAM!) and all I get is this wet food and a bowl of dry kibble to snack on. I am working on getting the fridge open so I can eat at will.

Paws out.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
Hi Kevin, one thing you might try with the pilling for your kitty is to put the pill in some kind of gloppy food like peanut butter or somethi gloppy/sticky, then kneel down and sit him down facing away from you between your legs. Put your index or middle finger on one side of his mouth and your thumb on the other and ease his head back while opening his mouth, then scrape off the peanut butter behind his top teeth. That's worked fairly well for me with some hard to pill cats. Peanut butter might be a little hard to swallow though, now that I think about it, so maybe just do it with some canned food? Good luck, your animals are lucky to have you. Oh - Dana Spence is a friend of mine, I mentioned I had read your blog and she just raves about you. I was going to help her get that puppy from the pound a couple of weeks ago before you went up there. Take care and be strong in your quest to find justice for these victimsof vaccinating, I k now it gets hard sometimes.
Sep. 7th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
Re: pills
Hi Debbie, thanks for the note. We have tried several things with Stimpy and it works the first time, and then she is suspicious the second time so we keep trying new things.

Dana and Chris are good people. I am always happy to help when I can. She has certainly taken good care of our pets many times.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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