Scarlett and her babies find new homes

June 27, 1996
Web posted at: 1 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Jeanne Moos

PORT WASHINGTON, New York (CNN) -- It was a story that touched the hearts of people throughout the world.

A mother cat pulled her five kittens to safety from a blazing abandoned building in Brooklyn, badly scorching herself. One kitten, weakened by smoke inhalation, died of a virus.

Three months after her heroic feat, Scarlett and her four surviving babies are not only well, but were adopted Thursday in a blaze of publicity.

After reading hundreds of letters from people who wanted to adopt the cats, a committee at the North Shore Animal League picked three families.

Two kittens, Oreo and Smokey, will go to Debbie Palmarozzo of Miller Place, Long Island. "I might change Smokey's name to Cinders," said Palmarozzo.

The two other kittens, who have been inseparable, are going to Corinne and Ginette Vercillo of Port Washington, Long Island.

As for Scarlett, judging by all the cat hair on her new owner, Karen Wellen, there was some heavy bonding going on. "I expected to see a scrawny hairless cat and she was gorgeous," said Wellen.

Named for her burned red flesh, Scarlett is certainly more like the feisty heroine of "Gone With The Wind."

Wellen's letter caught the committee's eye because she told of losing her own cat seven years ago shortly after she herself was hurt in a car accident.

"The physical and emotional pain I suffered made me more compassionate, and I vowed if ever allowed another cat in my home, it would be one with special needs," Wellen wrote.

Scarlett is special all right. "We spoiled her rotten," said Dr. Bonnie Brown of North Shore Animal League. "Scarlett is used to being queen of North Shore Animal League."

Scarlett even has a Web site devoted to her, featuring a poem entitled "Why is Everybody So Surprised That I Saved My Furry Five?"

Scarlett still needs surgery to reconstruct a missing left eyelid, but otherwise she's healthy.

Undoubtedly, these cats will live in the lap of luxury.

"My husband's building a cat condo 10 feet tall," said one proud new owner. "I went out and bought everything that wasn't tied down in the pet store," said another.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the end of Scarlett fever.

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