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In Memoriam: Samie, Daughter of Hero Cat Scarlett

North Shore Animal League America is saddened to report the passing of Samsara, also known as Samie, whom we believe to be the last surviving offspring of Scarlett. Samie was a beloved member of the Vercillo family, who cared for the sweet cat from kittenhood until her death at the age of 17 on May 14, 2013.

The inspiring story of how Scarlett rescued her kittens from a fire made headlines as far away as Japan, touching the hearts of animal lovers around the globe. In 1996, Scarlett was tending to her kittens in an abandoned Brooklyn garage when a fierce blaze erupted. After firefighters extinguished the fire, they were stunned to see the heroic mom gently carrying her four-week-old kittens from the building.

Despite her own severe burns, Scarlett was undeterred in her mission to rescue her babies. Unable to see because her eyes were scorched, she touched each kitten with her nose, reassuring herself that all were safe. Then, she lost consciousness.

Another hero rescuer, firefighter David Giannelli, brought the family to the safety of North Shore Animal League America. Sadly, the white kitten succumbed to a virus a month after the fire. But Scarlett and her surviving babies recovered after three months of extensive medical care and were ready for adoption.

Animal League America received more than 7,000 inquiries about adopting Scarlett and her kittens. Scarlett was adopted by Karen Wellen, who tenderly cared for the brave mother until Scarlett’s passing in 2008. (Read the full story here.) One pair of kittens was adopted by the Palmarozzo family, who named them Cinders and Oreo. The other two kittens, Tanuki and Samie, were adopted by the Vercillo family, who gave them a loving and happy home for many years.

Ginette Vercillo shares the story:

Samie was an important part of our family from the day she was adopted 17 years ago. We had the privilege of also adopting her brother Tanuki who, sadly, passed away about five years ago.

Their adoption occurred at the same time their mother Scarlett was adopted by Karen Wellen.  Karen and her parents provided a loving and caring home for Scarlett.  That gave rise to a wonderful friendship with Scarlett’s adopted family, which continues to endure.

Tanuki was the happy-go-lucky overweight brother of Samie.  He loved company. His favorite position was lying on his back so you could rub his tummy. We miss him a lot.

Samie was the petite princess that ran the household. She was a beautiful, intelligent cat, but the burn she experienced during the horrible fire (when she was saved by her Mother Scarlett) left her with a fear that resulted in appearing unapproachable. But once she got to know you, she was a loving companion. She could sense when you were ill and would stay close until you became well.

Samie and Tanuki were always part of our happy events. When we moved to Florida, we decided she would be happier remaining in her Port Washington surroundings, so our daughter Valerie became her surrogate mother.  They became inseparable. When Valerie went to bed, Samie was close behind. She slept in a sweater drawer in a dresser next to Valerie.

Samie’s passing was a source of great sadness. Despite loving care and remarkable support from the outstanding medical team at North Shore Animal League America, the inevitable occurred. We are comforted knowing she is now enjoying being reunited with her Mother Scarlett, brother Tanuki and other members of her family.

We are grateful to all of the wonderful people at North Shore Animal League America. We are especially appreciative of the recently deceased Mrs. Babette Lewyt, a wonderful lady, who together with her husband Alex fostered the growth of this fine organization. Words cannot fully express the love and appreciation we had for Babette, who was a beautiful lady in every sense of the word.”

Everyone at Animal League America extends our sincerest condolences to the Vercillo family on the loss of their beloved Samie. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for the years of love and devotion they gave to both Tanuki and Samie.