Cat Gets Second Chance Thanks to Lifesaving Cancer Treatment

Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund helped cover the cost of Mao’s cancer treatment at Ohio State University.

Teri + Mao

When Teri’s cat Mao was diagnosed with nasal lymphoma, Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund helped fund his treatment at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Today, Mao is in remission, and Teri is glad to share his story to help other pet parents look out for warning signs.

“How did I meet Mao? Well, it’s probably more accurate to say that Mao met me,” explained Teri. “I still remember the day my mom came in from outside with a huge grin on her face and announced to me that she’d just seen the most beautiful cat that she’d ever met. That was Mao. That’s how he got his name, because ‘Mao’ means ‘cat’ in Chinese. He’s become part of our family for almost 17 years.”

"Every pet parent knows their pet the best, so just be very cognizant of any change, even subtle."

In January 2020, Mao began showing subtle warning signs. It started with a sneeze. Teri thought Mao was just having an allergic reaction from the dust from her house remodeling, but then as time went on, his symptoms worsened. “I remember when I was reading on the internet, trying to find out if there was something wrong with him (way before it became very obvious that he had an obstruction in his nose), it was hard to connect the dots.” Then a visit to the vet determined Mao had a growing nasal tumor.

Given the pandemic, finding treatment for Mao was challenging. Mao was increasingly having trouble breathing and sleeping, so Teri drove two hours from home to the emergency room at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for help. After the first three days of radiation treatment, Mao started feeling a bit better, but because he was diagnosed with nasal lymphoma, OSU recommended that he get additional chemotherapy to catch all the cancer that could potentially be in his body.

For a whole year, Teri drove Mao to treatment. “I think because he had such trouble breathing, he was more aware that something was wrong with him, and he looked forward to going to OSU,” said Teri. “He would walk into his carrier and willingly go into the car. At OSU, they said they’ve never seen a cat happier to be at the hospital. I think somehow Mao understood that going to the hospital was associated with feeling better. He’s been a trooper the entire way.”

In January 2021, Mao completed his cancer treatment, thanks to financial assistance from Petco Love and Blue Buffalo. Because Petco Love and Blue Buffalo believe access to veterinary treatment shouldn’t have to be a financial decision, grant investments are made to oncology universities across the country, like the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, to offer support to pet parents with the cost of pet cancer treatment, the #1 disease-related killer of cats and dogs.

“You know when you’re at Petco, and that little message pops up for us to donate, we might think that our dollar or two makes no difference, but I can assure you it makes a world of difference. It certainly made a world of difference for Mao, giving him a chance to get cancer treatment.”

When asked what advice she’d give other pet parents regarding pet cancer warning signs, Teri said, “Especially with an older cat like Mao, he’s almost 17, I would say that any difference in behavior, or even a sign that could in a younger cat just be a cold or something, should be looked at very seriously. I would just encourage pet parents to talk to their local veterinarian, and be hyper vigilant, because a tumor obviously grows exponentially, so you want to get to it as quickly as possible.”

Today, Mao is recovering well at Teri’s side. “I think Mao realizes that he’s had a second chance at life. He’s returned to an even more adventurous version of himself. He’s definitely made the most of it.”


Petco Love and 
Blue Buffalo are proud to partner to fight pet cancer. Together, they’ve invested more than $16 million in universities, like Ohio State University, to help pet parents afford the costs of pet cancer treatment, and to support pet cancer research. Make a donation today to help fight pet cancer and provide other lifesaving care to pets in need. 

If cancer is detected early it can be treated more effectively. Check your dogs and cats regularly for the 10 Early Warning Signs as recommended by the Veterinary Cancer Society.