A kitten that was dyed purple and reportedly used as a dog's chew toy is now safe and sound in a California animal shelter.
According to CNN, the kitten — nicknamed "Smurf" by the veterinarian treating him — was about seven weeks old and only two pounds when he was found in a cardbox box, along with rags and lemon slices, on a San Jose street.
The small cat had multiple puncture wounds that his veterinarian believes were from a dog and sustained after he was dyed. She believes the kitten was being used as a toy.
"He wasn't beaten or strangled; these are repetitive bites all over his body," said veterinarian Monica Rudiger, founder of the no-kill shelter Nine Lives Foundation. "I can't imagine how else he would come to have so many puncture wounds."
Once Nine Lives Foundation starting sharing the story of Smurf on Facebook, Rudiger says she started receiving calls and emails —some as far away as Brazil — from people who wanted to adopt the poor thing. But she worries that it may be for the wrong reasons.
While Smurf's story is heartbreaking, it's not much different than most of the other mistreated animals she cares for at the shelter. The only difference here is that he's purple.
"We want to make sure people don't want him just because he's purple," she said. "We don't want to encourage other people to do the same thing."
Ruddier adds: "It's become a craze. I appreciate the exposure, but I hope the message is long-lasting that animal cruelty is real and this is just one guy who's experienced it. There are plenty of other kittens who need to be saved."
For now, Smurf is resting comfortably at the shelter before he goes into foster care. He's receiving antibiotics for his cuts and awaiting surgery for a wound on his right leg. The doctors are regularly washing and shaving him to get him back to his original color, which they think is either black or gray.
Smurf is also making quite a few friends, including a blind kitty named Wanda, whom he likes to massage daily. In a new video that shows Smurf playing masseuse to Wanda, they recommend you "listen closely for the purring...it will warm your heart!"
They're definitely right about that.