The story begins with a stray cat named Scarlett, known worldwide as a hero
It is not known when Scarlett was born because being a street cat, nobody knew anything about her. But from the looks of her, it is believed that she was not even a year old when she became the heroine of her own babies.
On March 30, 1996, the New York Fire Department headed to Brooklyn to attend to a report of a raging fire in an abandoned apartment building. Scarlett (as she was later called) a tricolor kitten, had had all 5 of her kittens in the garage of that building just 3 weeks ago.
As firefighters arrived and began battling the flames, David Giannelli, one of them, watched as a badly burned kitten carried her babies out of the garage to safety and back for the others. She went through the flames five times and, one by one, she carried them all out of danger.
When taking out the last one, she verified by smelling her babies, one by one, that all of them be fine since at that point she could no longer see because huge blisters completely covered her eyes. Once this was done, she collapsed unconscious.
Scarlett had her face, ears, and paws burned off and all of her furs completely singed.
When the firefighters finished fighting the fire, they picked up the family of kittens and took them to a veterinary clinic where one of them unfortunately died and the others, especially Scarlett who was severely burned, remained for 3 months in treatment.
This story of heroism where the maternal instinct overcame the survival instinct was widely reported. Even at that time when social media did not exist, she attracted international attention in an impressive way.
The clinic where Scarlett and her babies were hospitalized received more than 7,000 letters and countless phone calls from people interested in adopting them.
Karen Gave Scarlett a New Opportunity
As a result of the fire, Scarlett lived the rest of her life with extensive scarring primarily to her eyes and ears, and required lubrication and cream on her eyes several times a day throughout her life.
Scarlett lived happily in Karen's home for 12 years. At the end of her life, when she was over 13 years old, she began to have poor health: kidney failure, heart murmur, lymphoma, and other diseases.
Finally, after the veterinarians who had cared for her all her life saw the impossibility of a cure and the inevitable suffering, Karen was forced to make a very difficult and bitter decision: Scarlett was put to sleep forever in her arms on October 11, 2008.
The North Shore Animal League created the Scarlett Award for Animal Heroism in her honor, which is given to animals that have performed heroic acts towards other animals or towards humans. Likewise, Scarlett's story has been the inspiration for numerous books, television shows, and magazine articles.
Her memory lives on in Karen's home and on her Facebook page, which has more than 23,000 followers. And, in parallel, another global story has grown, especially in the Ibero-American sphere. Social networks, in which there are numerous profiles that personify cats —those of the Spanish Kratos, the Chilean Sakura, or the Colombian Tommy the monkey cat would be a good example— have extended the use of the term “Karen” for women who they live with cats and “Male Karen”, for men. With a subtle mixture of the gifts of felinity —that is, indifference, moral superiority, irony and natural grace— the kittens who are the protagonists of the videos have popularized the term Karen to speak —and criticize; and command— their owners.
That's why every time we see memes referring to 'Karen', it evokes that inspiring story of the cat Scarlett and her owner Karen, as well as being a story worth remembering on International Cat Day which is celebrated on August 8.
So, if you have a cat at home and others bother you by calling you Karen, feel honored because it is a woman who gave all her love, understanding, and cares to a kitten who, regardless of the danger, rescued each of her babies from a raging fire that caused permanent injuries but that was undoubtedly worth it because her kittens were able to enjoy a dignified and loving life in a home.
Did you already know this story? I am sure that it moved you and it is not for less, because this kitten teaches us that true love and altruism have no limits.
This is the story of why cat owners are called Karen. Thank you, Scarlett, thank you, Karen!