for the love of cats
From time to time, I am reminded of the story of a momma cat named Scarlett. Usually, it's by something really appalling like that of a human mother who recently beat her 13 mo. old baby boy to death because he wouldn't stop crying.
Scarlett was a stray cat who lived in an abandoned garage in Brooklyn, New York in 1996. It is believed that she was less than a year old when she had her first litter of 5 kittens. If so, this would place her in the area of mid-teens when she became a heroine. For reasons unknown to the Brooklyn Fire Department, a fire started in or near the garage which quickly engulfed it in flames. When reported to the fire department, they were able to get to the scene fairly quickly and began extinguishing the fire. While fighting the fire to prevent its spread to nearby structures, a firefighter noticed Scarlett who was severely burned but still managing to re-enter the still burning structure repeatedly, each time emerging with one of her five kittens in her mouth trying desperately to drag them all to safety.
Scarlett's face was almost completely devoid of fur and her eyes were blistered shut, her ears were severely burned as were her paws and her coat was seriously singed. After saving the kittens, she was observed touching each one with her nose to verify that they were all present and alive before collapsing unconscious. Although one kitten later died, the other 4 survived because of her efforts despite extreme risk to herself.
The firefighter who saw her perform her heroic task took her and her kids to a nearby veterinary clinic where she and her kittens were treated. The story received nationwide attention and I remember hearing about it on the news. I was moved by the story and felt a sense of pride for her and what she risked her life to accomplish. As I recall, Scarlett received some 5000 letters from people wanting to adopt her or one of her 4 surviving babies.
An animal league in Brooklyn created a special award named after Scarlett to honor animal heroism. Since then, Scarlett has been featured on several TV shows including Sally Jesse Raphael and a PBS special about extraordinary cats and has had at least two books published recounting her story. Scarlett is now a legend worldwide. Despite nearly constant attempts by media to get interviews or updates on Scarlett, her new owners refuse stating "Any cat that has been through what she has been through deserves a peaceful life." And they now have a license plate on their car that reads "4 Scarlet".
Scarlett is a calico and as of the last report I've read, is healthy and weighs in at a whopping 16 pounds. If you want a yardstick by which to measure how you have lived your life and the decisions you have made, consider using Scarlett. But be warned. She set the bar pretty high.
I'll post the last picture I have of Scarlett on my page shortly.