The Cats for the CureTM story began in August 2005 when Sonoma County artist Claudia Sanchez was diagnosed with breast cancer.
After her eight-month ordeal, Claudia wanted to help others through their cancer experiences. In fall of 2006, she discovered Catwalk for a Cure, an annual fashion show put on by the Breast Care Center of the Sutter Medical Center, Santa Rosa, California. Not only was Claudia a model in the fashion show, but she also donated a live auction item: a commissioned painting of the highest bidder’s cat. The cat would be painted with a pink ribbon around its neck. The following year, Claudia modeled again. She donated an already-completed painting to the silent auction; it was "Purrsie’s Hope".
Shortly thereafter, Claudia decided to become a regular philanthropist. In early 2007, she founded Cats for the Cure. She made the decision to donate a percentage of the proceeds from all products in the collection to breast cancer research and treatment.
Claudia’s first cat for the cure was not the winner of the Catwalk auction. Priscilla became the second cat in the collection in the painting "Priscilla’s Promise."
The first cat, painted in 2007, was Purrsie, the Purrfect Platinum Pussycat, who happened to be a perfectly adorable platinum-colored American Shorthair. Purrsie’s heart-shaped markings made her the perfect model for Purrsie’s Hope; since then, the painting has appeared on many Cats for the Cure products. Purrsie belonged to Suzie Geraldi, who was Claudia’s assistant at the time.
Then tragedy struck. Claudia lost Sabrina, her ten-year-old American Curl, to fibrous sarcoma, a viciously aggressive cancer. It was only after Sabrina passed that Claudia heard about UC Davis Veterinary School of Medicine and CCAH Director Dr. Niels Peterson’s innovative feline disease research. Sabrina might have lived, if only she had been taken to the Small Animal Clinic early in her diagnosis.
With this in mind, Claudia adjusted the mission of Cats for the Cure. Half of her donations would go to UC Davis for feline disease research, and the other half would continue to benefit human breast cancer research.
Five months after Sabrina passed away, the Sanchez family adopted a new kitten, a little four-month-old Scottish Fold named Lucy. She was sweet and loving—everything Claudia wanted in a cat. Lucy spent two months adjusting to the new household and irritating Simba, Claudia’s other cat. Then, one late October day, she became lethargic. Claudia took her to the local vet, who told her that Lucy had a fever, most likely the flu. By the end of the weekend, however, she was worse. Within a week, she was gone; she was only six months old. She was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) at UC Davis. Within two months, three of her litter mates also died of FIP. The kittens’ owners and breeders were devastated.
FIP is a virus that attacks the intestinal tract. It is nearly always fatal and afflicts cats of all ages—though most commonly kittens and the elderly. It has become one of the feline diseases that Claudia is most passionate about curing. She is a founding member of SOCK FIP, a nonprofit organization that supports FIP research at the Center for Companion Animal Health at UC Davis Veterinary School of Medicine. As of 2011, Claudia’s portrait of Lucy, entitled "Here’s Looking at You, Kitten", has become SOCK FIP’s official logo.
Claudia has always hoped that her artwork served a purpose—even if that purpose was as simple as making people smile. Now, however, she hopes that her artwork and her work with Cats for the Cure will help save lives, human and feline, in the fight against cancer, FIP, and other diseases such as HCM.
In Memory of Suzie Geraldi
12/21/60 ~ 6/23/11
In early March of 2009 Claudia's assistant, Suzie Geraldi, was diagnosed with Stage-3 Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.
On June 23, 2011 Suzie passed-away after an extended yet courageous 26-month battle against this awful disease.
Suzie worked with Claudia since 2007 and was fortunate enough to know little Lucy during her her battle with FIP. It was through her work with Claudia that Suzie learned just how devastating a disease FIP is, and how important the work is at CCAH.
That work, combined with her cat Purrsie being the first official model for the Cats for the Cure series, resulted in SOCK FIP becoming a cause that was near and dear to Suzie's heart.
In accordance to Suzie's wishes, 50% of all contributions made to Cats for the Cure in her memory will go to The Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH) at the UC Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, specifically to help support research in the areas of feline diseases including FIP, HCM and cancer.
The next 25% of contributions made in her memory will go to The Cancer Wellness Program (CWP) at the Santa Rosa Airport Health Club. Having participated in The Cancer Wellness Program herself, this was a cause she deeply supported.
As it had been Suzie's earnest hope to be able to walk in the Catwalk for the Cure show one day as a breast cancer survivor, the remaining 25% of her memorial contributions will go to the Breast Care Center at Santa Rosa's Sutter Medical Center.
Please visit Suzie's Memorial Page for additional information about her, and the July 17, 2011 Celebration of her Life.
For more information about Cats for the Cure or about making donations in memory of Suzie, please contact firstname.lastname@example.orgShop the Cats for the Cure TM Collection