A Mother’s Love Knows No Bounds……Even When the Mother is a Cat

On March 29, 1996, an abandoned auto dealership in East New York caught fire. Fire engines were soon on the scene, and the blaze was almost extinguished when firefighter David Gianelli heard faint meowing coming from the nearly demolished building. There, he found two 4-week-old kittens huddled together, and three others were found just across the street. Their mother, who had been burned, lay nearby. It turned out that the mother had rescued her brood from the burning building, carrying out one kitten at a time — which meant she risked her own life five times in order to save her kittens. Gathering all the animals into a box, Gianelli noticed that even though her eyes were swollen shut, the mother cat counted her babies by touching each with her nose, making sure they were all there, before she lapsed into unconsciousness. The feline family was taken to the North Shore Animal League facility, where there was a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital and emergency service. The family was treated for burns and smoke inhalation and placed in an oxygen chamber in intensive care. As well as her swollen eyes, the mother’s ears were seriously burned, her paws scorched, and her fur singed. The cat was given the name Scarlett because her actions in saving her family recalled those of Scarlett O'Hara in the epic film Gone with the Wind. Thousands of adoption offers were received from around the world after the story became known. The kittens were homed — in two pairs — near the facility where they were treated. Scarlett returned to Brooklyn to live with writer Karen Wellen, whose own elderly cat had recently died. Despite needing medicated eye cream three times a day, Scarlett otherwise recovered well.
Karen Wellen and Scarlett