I Can Haz Screening? Cervical cancer awareness raised by feline YouTube hits in University of Salford scheme

By Danielle Wainwright

No longer content with lazy lie-ins, whisker washing or playing piano in smash YouTube hits, cats could now help to save the lives of millions of women with the launch of Salford University’s new cervical cancer campaign.

The scheme, Cat That Got the Screen, is part of this week’s Cervical Screening Awareness event as a shocking 32.5% of women aged between 24 and 29 in the North West miss their cervical tests.

After the success of online memes such as ‘Lolcats’, including ‘I Can Has Cheezburger?’ which feature pictures of cats alongside various phrases to describe the activities in their pose – Google them, they’re hard to describe – the university is using their success to highlight important messages.

Along with the NHS, they have used a combination of serious messages and cat-based viral content such as photos and videos to encourage young women to get involved.

With three deaths every day from the disease, a five minute cervical screening can prevent 75% of cervical cancers and campaigners are hoping that the comical cats will lead to higher test attendances.

Professor Paula Ormandy from the University’s College of Health & Social Care said: “Of course there are lots of digital campaigns promoting health.

“What’s innovative about this project is that it has embedded evaluation mechanisms so that we can constantly audit its performance, and change things if they’re not working or they become tired.”

The campaign is being run by a combination of academics from the health departments and also experts in social media as women can join in the fun to create feline-themed postcards using the campaign website or watch hilarious YouTube videos of crazy cats.

As part of the evaluation process, women aged 24-29 are being encouraged to take part in an online survey and will have the chance to win various prizes, including £150 in shopping vouchers.

Below is a video created as part of the scheme.

Details can be found at

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles