On May 15th, 2017, the Naples (Florida) Cat Alliance shared a post on Facebook where they documented their experience, after having received a cat that had purple paws from local animal control. The post by the shelter detailed how the cat embodied how dogfighters color the white parts of kittens and cats using markers. They are colored that way then thrown to dogs while these sick twisted individuals place their bets to see which one dies first. The post created an uproar as many people were enraged about the practice, with some terming it as disturbing and barbaric. Since then many social media users have been made aware of the practice through various articles written on the same. There have also been that alerts asking them to rush any kitten or cat they see with purple paws to the nearest vet or shelter since there is high chance the cats were being used as dog bait by dogfighters.
Mr Purple Claws…
The cat that had been received by the Naples Cat Alliance was named Mr. Purple Claws. The shelter didn’t have any direct knowledge of whether Mr. Purple Claws had escaped or if he had been rescued from barbaric dogfighters. According to Snopes, the most probable assumptions as to why his paws had been colored purple was based solely on the fact that Mr. Purple Claws had come from an area that has a reputation for dogfighting. There were attempts to try and get the dye off to no success meaning that the dye wasn’t a water-soluble marker or hair color. The shelter stated that Mr. Purple Claws’ arrival to the establishment was quite coincidental as they had been alerted by local law enforcement regarding dogfighting and the practice of coloring and/or numbering the animals that were used as bait.
It was still unclear whether Mr. Purple Claws had been a victim of the practice of dogfighting . However, the shelter deduced that he probably was due to the fact that he was a friendly feline and readily approached anyone who seemed friendly to him – making him an easy catch or target. The question that would remain is whether these organized dogfighting rings exist or not. Unfortunately, they do exist and they are both horrific and cruel, to say the least. The issue raises another question that needs to be addressed.
Are Cats Really Used as Bait?
Do dogfighters use animals such as cats as bait to provide entertainment for the spectators or to train their dogs for the practice? There have been various reports that suggest that while some of the dogfighting rings have done so, there is a lack of evidence to substantiate this fact as investigated and reported by animal welfare organizations. Organizations such as RSPCA have debunked these claims that cats are often used as dog bait in dog fighting rings after conducting their investigations. In a statement, the organization noted that its special operations unit has never found substantial evidence to support the claims.
There however have been several commenters who offered other possible explanations as to why cats would have purple claws. Such explanations include one which explains that a feline can come into contact with Cydectin which is a treatment for parasites and infections on livestock. Cydectin is usually purple in color to help farmers differentiate between the treated and the untreated animals. One thing to note though with regards to this whole issue would be to assume that if the dogfighters were indeed coloring the kittens to help the wagerers differentiate between the animals during the events where the cats are mixed together, they would have to color each kitten differently and not just use the color purple.
What is dogfighting?
According to Wikiwand, dogfighting refers to 2 or more dogs pitted against one another in a pit for the entertainment of those present or the satisfaction of dogfighters. They usually last until one of the dogs is declared the winner. This occurs when one dog dies, fails to scratch or jumps out of the pit. Other times the owner of the dog might call off the fight resulting in no dog being declared the winner. The revenues from the blood sport are generated mostly from gambling and admission fees. Bloodsports, most especially dog fighting , get their roots from the Roman Empire. The dogs were used in wars and for the entertainment of guests and spectators. Today though, the practice has been banned and remains to be illegal in most countries worldwide except for some such as Japan, Albania and certain parts of Russia.
Bait animals are used to test a canine’s fighting instinct. They are often attacked or killed in the process though. The training process for the dogs includes torturing or killing of bait animals. Most of these are always stolen or are feral animals obtained from shelters. The bait animals often have their mouths covered in duct tape to prevent them from fighting back. Its teeth are also broken often for this reason. If they are still alive after the match, dogfighters often give them to the winning dog to finish them off.
The alerts arose from a single Facebook post that talked about a colored cat. It is only logical that in as much as the animal organizations have found no evidence, readers should beware and be responsive to cats with unusual artificial hues. If by any chance you come across an animal that seems to be mistreated or neglected, looks like it might be suffering from an injury or an untreated illness, seems to be dehydrated, malnourished, unkempt or is unusually colored it is best to get in touch with a welfare agency or a local animal control and let them investigate the matter. Together, we can keep all animals safe. Fortunately for Mr. Purple Claws, he is now in a loving and caring home as he was adopted by a family outside of Pittsburgh.