The Mother Cat

The Mother Cat


Scarlett, a mother cat, walked through the flames to save her kittens from a building fire.


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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 has been described in several non-fiction books. If the kittens were her first litter, Scarlett was probably about nine months old.

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.


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