Blue Shelter Cat Originally Thought to Be 'Dog Fight Bait' Amazes 4 Million Viewers

This adorable little cat certainly "blue" viewers away.

Footage of a cat with blue fur left at an animal shelter has gone viral online, with many viewers fearful the cat's strange coloring may indicate it was used as bait in a dog fighting ring.

Theo Randall, also known as @manicrandall on TikTok, posted the sweet viral video showing off their Michigan animal shelter's latest find—a cat with bright blue fur. Since posting last week, the video has been viewed over 4.3 million times and liked by more than 1.1 million amazed viewers.

"This is Smurf," Randall writes as Smurf shakes his arm and appears to wave at the camera.

Set to the CMD Project song Blue (Da Ba Dee), Randall claims "Smurf came into the shelter looking like this." Additional clips show Smurf's patchy blue and purple coloring, with some of his natural ginger fur peeking through.

"We do not know why Smurf is blue," Randall continues. "But he seems okay with it." The cat appears to be healthy and normal, aside from his dyed fur.

Thousands fled to the comments to remark on what a unique cat Smurf is. "If I saw a blue cat at a shelter I would adopt them immediately," one enthusiastic viewer shared. "I wants to pet da blue kitty," another added.

Blue cat thought to be dogfighting bait
"He didn't have any injuries, so it's not like I can say definitively that he was [abused]," said Megan Sorbara, president of the Naples Cat Alliance in Florida. Smurf the blue cat has captured the heart of over 4 million viewers on TikTok, many of whom were concerned that he had previously been used for dog fighting bait based on the coloring of his fur. Theo Randall @manicrandall/TikTok

However, the overwhelming concern in the comments section was how Smurf's fur became blue. As reported by WLWT in 2019, cats with dyed fur often mean than they are used to bait dogs in illegal fighting circuit.

"It's common for dog fighters to take a bunch of kittens, dye them different colors and then cage them with a fighting dog and take bets," the outlet reported.

"He might be blue because people who train dogs for dog fights might have taken him to use for bait and they stain them blue. I am glad he is safe," one viewer feared. "I believe this is how they mark small animals as targets to train big dogs to fight. So happy you got him before they used him as a target," another commented.

Megan Sorbara, president of the Naples Cat Alliance in Florida, spoke with Newsweek about how often times house cats are roped into dog fighting rings.

"I learned about it...a few years ago. There were two kittens that...had magic marker on them. One was green, the other was purple," she explained. "That's where I first learned about it. [Dog fighters] apparently take bet on which kitten is going to die first, or which one is going to live.

"Then, we came across one," she continued. "It was a cat that we picked, found outside and was extremely friendly. People's pets are the most at-risk, because it's easy to be handled and grabbed. This guy was a gray one, and his white areas were dyed purple. He was found in an area that's notorious for dog fighting in just made sense that that's what was going on there."

While Sorbara was not able to conclusively confirm the cat was used as dog fighting bait, she was confident he had managed to escape from a dangerous situation.

"He didn't have any injuries, so it's not like I can say definitively that he was [abused]," she told Newsweek. "Adding all the pieces together—where he was found, the dye...and the dye was actually a dye that they use for landscaping, so it wasn't like a hair dye was used."

"We kind of put it all together," Sorbara added. "I can't really 100 percent confirm it, but just putting together all the circumstances and evidence, I would say he was a lucky cat that managed to get away."

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"Dog fighters use markers to color the white parts of cats and kittens so they can bet on which color will die first," she added on Facebook at the time. "They are 'color-coded' and then thrown to packs of dogs, while these sick barbarians place their bets. This is cruelty at its worst."

Some viewers had their doubts Smurf was in an abusive environment, given the lack of physical injuries and variations of color in his fur.

"If the cat was being used for bait they wouldn't [have] purposefully missed the eye area, I'm pretty sure their previous owner just thought it would be cute," one shared. "Lmao yall it isn't dyed for bait, it has a smooth turquoise to purple gradient, this bad boy got his hair dyed professionally," another hypothesized.

Steve Kelso, the Marketing and Communication Manager for the Kent County Health Department, confirmed with Newsweek that Smurf presented himself with no injuries and is not believed to have been involved in any dog fighting circuit.

"He appears so super healthy," he said. "We've got a full-time vet over there, they looked over the cat. There's no physical abuse or damage, aside from dying the cat. This cat is so well-adjusted to people that it's hard to believe that was part of this kitty's life.

"I went over [to the shelter] and I held that cat for about 15 minutes," Kelso added. "He was the sweetest, most docile cat. We had never met before, and that cat sat in my arms for about 15 minutes just having his head scratched."

A follow-up video posted by Randall also corroborates that Smurf was not likely involved in violent fighting rings. "Thanks for everyone's concern but Smurf is NOT a dogfighting bait cat," they write in text overlay as Smurf enjoys some head scratches.

"[Smurf's] owner has contacted us so we know that he previously had a home," they continue. "He was professionally dyed with what is likely pet safe dye.

"The owner has a week to come get him and unfortunately she never showed when she said she would," Randall adds. "Smurf doesn't understand why he wasn't claimed but will be adopted by a loving family in our area."

Randall's local animal shelter also updated followers on Facebook that Smurf was up for adoption. "Introducing... Smurf! He's a happy, playful young party animal! Smurf was found with his hair already dyed blue when he wandered into a store. Come meet him and our other awesome cats!" the shelter posted.

On Friday, Kelso shared with Newsweek that Smurf has found his new forever home.

"The cat was adopted this morning!" Kelso shared with Newsweek on Friday. "Smurf is going to a new home...He was just such a little sweetie!"

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Sorbara also told Newsweek that anyone who finds a cat they suspect is involved in a dog fighting ring should contact the appropriate authorities.

"If you see something, say something," she said. "I would definitely reach out to whoever handles domestic animals in that area, whether it be the sheriff's department or their own individual office, and express the concerns about what they know about animals that have been painted.

"If you find any animal, you should bring them in so they can be scanned for a microchip," she added. "If the animal was a missing animal or stolen animal confirmed by the microchip, that would also point you in the direction that the cat was picked up for nefarious purposes. I would reach out to animal services for help."

Kelso also reminded Newsweek of the importance of having household pets spayed and neutered. "We've got a cat explosion right now, and it's actually becoming a nationwide problem.

"During the pandemic here in Michigan, a lot of veterinarians were enjoined by executive orders prohibiting anything other than life-saving surgeries or humane euthanization. In our shelter...we were only able to do 600 [procedures]. It's an exponential problem."

Newsweek reached out to Randall for additional comment on the situation, but did not hear back in time for publication.

In February, stray dogs in Russia were photographed roaming the streets with blue fur. It was later reported their unique coloring could be a result of skin irritation and internal bleeding from exposure to toxic or harmful chemicals in the area.

Updated 07/16/2021, 3 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include statements Kent County Health Department Marketing and Communication Manager Steve Kelso made to Newsweek.