Child Protective Services is investigating the families of two children who admitted to stoning and hanging a 4-month-old kitten using a wire from their video game.
Liz Barker Alvarez, spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Security, said CPS can look into a situation when children younger than 8 years old commit a crime, even when there are not allegations of abuse or child neglect.
"The investigation includes visiting the family home and doing an assessment of the family's situation and determining what the families needs are and putting in services and supports to meet the needs," Alvarez said.
The boys, ages 6 and 7 - too young to be charged with a crime - were approached by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies in October after a call came in about a dead cat hanging from a tree in the neighborhood of the 9000 block of Apache Trail in Mesa.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a news release Friday said language and cultural differences "made it difficult to persuade both boys' parents of the urgent need for counseling, but ultimately they have agreed to perhaps seek counseling for the boys."
Deputies report the boys had been playing Grand Theft Auto.
"This level of animal abuse at such a young age could be a predictor of worse violence in the future," Arpaio said.