By LARRY McSHANE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
October 24th 2008
Scarlett the cat, a calico hero who drew worldwide acclaim after rescuing her five kittens from a 1996 Brooklyn fire, has passed away.
The aging cat - believed to be at least 13 years old - succumbed to multiple illnesses, leaving behind the sad Brooklyn family that adopted her after the blaze.
"She was the most precious and loving cat, and in our household, it was all about Scarlett," said her owner, Karen Weller.
Scarlett's ascension to stardom began in an abandoned Brooklyn garage, where she was tending her litter of five when a fire broke out in March 1996.
Firefighters spotted Scarlett, despite burns to her eyes, ears and face, toting each kitten out of the building to safety. Once outside, Scarlett nudged each baby with her nose to make sure she found all five.
The hero cat was taken to the North Shore Animal League with her offspring - and their story soon attracted attention from around the globe.
Calls about the fearless feline's health came in from Japan, the Netherlands and South Africa, while other admirers sent Mother's Day cards to Scarlett.
She became the main character of a book, "Scarlett Saves Her Family," and received mentions from Oprah Winfrey and CNN.
In her new Brooklyn home, Scarlett was top cat. Four of her five kittens survived the blaze and they were adopted in pairs.
Scarlett died on Oct. 11, after battling kidney failure, a heart murmur and lymphoma, Animal League officials said.