If it's true that cats have nine lives, then this fierce mama cat gave up five of hers to save her babies.
This beautiful calico and her five kittens were living in an abandoned Brooklyn garage that had become a crack house when a fire broke out. The New York City Fire Department responded to a call about the fire and quickly extinguished it. Once the fire was under control, one of the firefighters on the scene, David Giannelli, noticed the mama cat carrying her kittens away from the garage one by one.
She 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 one of them with her nose to ensure they were all there and alive, as the blisters on her eyes kept her from being able to see them.Then she collapsed into unconsciousness.
Gianelli took the tiny family to the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York where the mama cat—who staffers named Scarlett (after Scarlett O'Hara)—and her kittens were treated. The weakest of the kittens 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. One of the clinic's vet techs told reporters that, during her time there, Scarlett was "spoiled rotten and treated like a queen".
Scarlett a few days after the fire.
The story of this feline mother's heroic efforts to save her kittens attracted international media 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 would take in only animals with special needs.
It was March of 1996 when Scarlett's heroic bravery and do-or-die mother's love made headlines around the world.She lived happily with her ever-attentive human mom for more than 12 years before crossing the bridge on October 11, 2008.
The North Shore Animal League has created an award named the Scarlett Award for Animal Heroism, in Scarlett's honor. This award is presented to animals that have engaged in heroic acts to benefit others, whether humans or other animals.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they walk on four legs, and carry tremendous lion hearts inside small, cat-sized bodies.
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