Meet Mittens, a Burned Mama Cat Who Changed Laws and Lives

Posted by Stacey Venzel
Life With Cats and Ohmidog

This feline that was set on fire by teenagers in Baltimore was named ASPCA's Cat of the Year in 2011. More like Mother of the Year.

In January 2011, Mittens had just given birth to a litter of three kittens when two teenage boys decided to test the laws of physics, dousing the nursing mother in lighter fluid, throwing her in a milk crate on a balcony, and setting her aflame. Seventy percent of Mittens' body was burned, leaving her with diminutive ears and charred skin.

But this mama cat didn't abandon her young. Instead, after leaping from the balcony and running in circles to put out the flames, Mittens returned to the house where she had been set on fire, the house where her babies were nestled, and let the litter continue nursing.


Prior to the incident, Mittens was being cared for by a grandmother, whose grandson and his friend were responsible for inducing the trauma. When the woman heard Mittens screaming in pain, she dialed 911. The 17-year-old arsonists were arrested and charged with animal cruelty.

The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun

Meanwhile, Mittens was transferred into the loving care of feline foster mother Cindy Wright, who later adopted the lovable cat, adding to a growing menagerie of rescued pets.

With the help of donated funds collected by the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), Mittens was able to continue nursing her kittens and get back to good health. The kittens were adopted to other homes two months later.


Though some patches of fur are still missing and her ears will forever have a singed look to them, Mittens captured the hearts of Americans. Advocates on her behalf led to a crackdown on animal rights legislation, laws that had previously been shot down in the Maryland Congressional Session.

Mittens' achievements as a doting mother and voice for animals in need led her to be awarded "Cat of the Year" in 2011. She then went on to spread awareness for animal welfare on the "Today Show."

Cindy Wright via Stubby Dog
Cindy Wright via Stubby Dog

With her newfound fame from street cat to celebrity cat, Mittens has become a therapy animal, visiting kids at the Ronald McDonald House and the Children's Home of York. Mittens educates children about empathy for animals through Jasmine's House's Project Mickey and Teachers for Tails.

She is also a fashion diva and paparazzi connoisseur, strutting her stuff on the pet runway with Show Your Soft Side to raise awareness and funds for needy animals.

This is one cat who truly made a name for herself and who is using her experience to make the world a better place.

Read Mittens' "purrsonal" account of her survival story here.

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