A little over 12 years ago there was a fire in an abandoned building in Brooklyn. As fires go, it wasn't too unusual except that one of the fireman saw a calico cat going back into the building five times and coming out each time with a kitten. After her last trip, she touched each of her kittens with her nose and then collapsed.
This fireman, David Giannelli, took the badly burned cat and her litter to the North Shore Animal League, a no-kill shelter. There the cat, named Scarlett, and her kittens were treated for their injuries. Unfortunately, one of the kittens developed a virus and died, but all the others survived. The four remaining kittens were adopted in pairs and Scarlett was adopted by a woman in Brooklyn, Karen Wellen. Scarlett's injuries were extensive, her ear tips were burned along with most of the fur on her face. Although her injuries healed, the scars remained, Her ear tips were burned off and the fur on her face never grew back.
Her heroic actions inspired two books, The Bravest Cat!: The True Story of Scarlet, and Scarlett Saves Her Family: The Heart-warming True Story of a Homeless Mother Cat Who Rescued Her Kittens From a Raging Fire. There was also a poem, "Why is Everybody So Surprised That I Saved My Furry Five?"
This week I heard that Scarlett had died. She was about 13 years old and had multiple health problems including a heart murmur, severe dental disease and lymphoma which are common diseases of geriatric cats, but the real cause of death was kidney failure.
This simple stray calico cat became world-famous because she cared about her babies and braved a fire to rescue them. She had a comfortable and happy life. She will be missed by Ms. Wellen and all who knew her.
She has gone to the Rainbow Bridge to be with all the other pets who are missed by their owners.