1. Scarlett, Hero Cat Mom

Scarlett and her owner, Karen Wellen (via Facebook)

This hero momma cat became famous after a Brooklyn building caught fire in 1996. Firefighters extinguished it, and noticed a stray cat carrying her kittens, one by one, out of the rubble. The cat herself had been burned by this process of saving her kittens; her eyes were blistered shut and her ears, paws and coat were burned. She and and her kittens were treated, named and adopted. Her story received national attention and the creation of the "Scarlett Award," given to those who display an act of selfless heroism.