the Hero Cat, Passes Away
October 15, 2008 (Port Washington, NY) - Scarlett the cat, whose story
of bravery, uncompromising love and triumph over all odds, has passed on.
The heroine calico, who in 1996 made headlines around the world for pulling
her five kittens to safety from a raging fire, lost her battle with multiple
illnesses this week after living with her adoptive family in Brooklyn,
New York for over 12 years.
Back in 1996, Scarlett was tending to her kittens in an abandoned Brooklyn
garage when fire broke out. Having extinguished the blaze, firefighters
sighted the mother cat, slowly carrying her four-week-old kittens from
the building. Badly scorched, her ears radically burned, she lined up her
babies. With her eyes blistered from the inferno, she was seen touching
each with her nose, to reassure herself that her litter of five had made
it to safety. She then collapsed, unconscious.
Firefighter David Giannelli transported the little feline family to North
Shore Animal League America where the mother, who was named Scarlett, and
her kittens, were treated. The weakest of the kittens died of a virus one
month after the blaze. However, after three months of treatment and recovery,
Scarlett and her surviving babies were ready for adoption.
In the flurry of worldwide media attention to the heroic feline mother
and her family, the Animal League received more than 7,000 inquiries about
adopting Scarlett and her brood. Ultimately, the kittens were adopted in
pairs and Scarlett herself was adopted out to Karen Wellen, whose story
of losing her own cat, shortly after an accident in which she herself was
injured, struck a chord at the Animal League. Wellen said her experience
made her a more compassionate individual, and, if ever she was to adopt
another cat, she wanted to devote herself to one with special needs.
Once in Wellen's care, Scarlett continued to be a media darling, capturing
the attention of regional, national and international outlets as far away
as Japan, and including the most powerful voices of CNN and Oprah Winfrey.
She was the subject of numerous books and articles and appeared in the
first aired segment of Animal Planet. She was even honored by Great Britain's
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Living in Wellen's
Brooklyn home, Scarlett was a cherished family member, given run of the
house and abundant love. "She was the most precious and loving cat
and in our household, it was all about Scarlett," said Wellen.
Scarlett, who required ongoing care as a result of her injuries, and who
was diagnosed with a heart murmur during her recovery at the Animal League
Veterinary Medical Center, became a Sponsor Pet, and the symbol of all
the real and wonderful pets in the Animal League's care. She was the guest
of honor at the Animal League's Christmas Tree Lighting and was a surprise
for a little boy whose birthday wish was to meet her. The Animal League
created an animal heroism award in her name and recently unveiled The Scarlett
Room, an online site showcasing the animals in the organization's Sponsor
Program. This month, National Geographic Kids' Magazine, circulated around
the globe, honored Scarlett as one of its Ten Cool Cats.
The Infinite Cat Project
Presented by Mike Stanfill, Private Hand