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Scarlett and her adoptive owner, Karen Wellen
|Born||c. June 1995|
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||October 11, 2008 (aged 13)|
Brooklyn, New York
|Known for||Rescuing her kittens from a fire|
|Parent(s)||Unknown sire and dam|
Scarlett (June or July, 1995 – October 11, 2008) was a former stray cat from Brooklyn, New York, whose efforts to save her kittens from a fire attracted worldwide media attention, and have been described in a number of non-fiction books. If the kittens were her first litter, she was probably about nine months old.
She later became a featured animal in the fund-raising and public relations efforts of the shelter that treated her and her kittens, the North Shore Animal League. On October 15, 2008, the League announced that Scarlett had died.
On March 30, 1996, Scarlett and her five kittens were in an abandoned garage allegedly used as a crack house in Brooklyn when a fire started from undetermined causes. The New York City Fire Department responded to a call about the fire and quickly extinguished it. When the fire was under control, one of the firefighters on the scene, David Giannelli, noticed Scarlett carrying her kittens away from the garage one by one.
Scarlett herself had been severely burned in the process of pulling her kittens from the fire. Her eyes were blistered shut, her ears and paws burned, and her coat highly singed. The majority of her facial hair had been burnt away. After saving the kittens she was seen to touch each of her kittens with her nose to ensure they were all there, as the blisters on her eyes kept her from being able to see them, and then she collapsed unconscious.
Gianelli took the intact family to a veterinary clinic at the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York where Scarlett and her kittens were treated. The weakest of the kittens, a white-coated, died of a virus a month after the fire. However, after three months of treatment and recovery, Scarlett and her surviving kittens were well enough to be adopted.
The story of this feline mother's efforts and bravery to save her kittens attracted international attention, and the clinic received more than 7,000 letters offering to adopt Scarlett and her kittens. The clinic ultimately chose to divide the kittens into two pairs and the pairs were given over for adoption to residents of Long Island.
Scarlett herself was adopted by Karen Wellen. In her letter, Wellen indicated that, as a result of losing her cat shortly after being injured in a traffic accident herself, she had become more compassionate and would take in only animals with special needs.
Scarlett died on October 11, 2008, while with her adoptive family in Brooklyn. Scarlett needed continuing care as a result of her injuries. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur during her recovery at the Animal League Veterinary Medical Center. At her death, she was reported to have multiple illnesses.
The Scarlett Award
The North Shore Animal League created an award named the Scarlett Award for Animal Heroism, in Scarlett's honor. The award is presented to animals or humans that have engaged in heroic acts to benefit others.
- "Scarlett, the World-Famous Brave Mother Cat Who Survived a Fire and Saved Her Kittens, Passes Away", North Shore Animal League America, October 15, 2008, Retrieved December 15, 2013
- In Memoriam: Samie, Daughter of Hero Cat Scarlett North Shore ANimal League Events & News. Published in 2013, specific date not known. Accessed online December 10, 2015
- "Scarlett Dies", New York Daily News, October 24, 2008
- Scarlett, the World-Famous Brave Mother Cat Who Survived a Fire and Saved Her Kittens, Passes Away. October 15, 2008 North Shore Animal League press release. Replacing dead link with the Internett Archive Screen Shot link December 10, 2015
- NBC News Anchor Chuck Scarborough’s Dog Oliver Honored for Bravery at North Shore Animal League America’s 9th Annual Lewyt Humane Awards July 16, 2010 North Shore Animal League Events & News. Accessed online December 10, 2015.
- Driscoll, Laura (1997). The Bravest Cat!: The True Story of Scarlett. illus. DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0-448-41720-0.
- Spinelli, Eileen (2011). Hero Cat. Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 0761452230.
- Weinstein, Emily Eve (2002). Cat Book. Huntington, W.V.: Beau Soleil. ISBN 0-9666085-8-5.