RIP Katniss: Kitten Burn Victim Dies


A sweet baby kitten who had thousands of animal lovers rooting for her recovery and triumph over horrendous abuse passed away Sunday, two weeks after being intentionally burned.

Katniss the kitten was physically abused and deliberately set on fire at 8 weeks old in an incident occurring in Cleveland, Tennessee on October 6. She was rescued by a good Samaritan and brought to the local emergency clinic, where the veterinarian on duty, Dr. Todd Dolen, who is also the veterinarian for the non-profit organization Animal Aid, in Athens, Tennessee took a special interest in her and brought her home for care.

Katniss suffered severe burns and required a couple of surgeries, including the amptation of a seriously damaged rear leg. Dr. Dolen performed the procedures and was able to use skin from the amputated leg for grafts over the kitten’s burns.

Katniss was given her name in a gesture that honored her great courage and strength in the face of terrible adversity.

The sweet kitten received love, prayers, support and donations from thousands of animal lovers during the two weeks that she fought to recover from her injuries.

Katniss was rushed to the emergency clinic late Friday night, at 1 a.m.,  due to sepsis, an inflammation caused by infection. A feeding tube was put in at the clinic. She had improved by Saturday morning and went home. Katniss greeted Dr. Dolen and his family Sunday morning, purring for them, but passed away shortly afterward.

Dr. Dolen announced her passing, writing:

Dear friends,

It is with broken heart that I must tell you this morning that sweet Katniss has passed away. She fought a brave fight for two weeks and was kind to those she met even after suffering such brutality in her short life. She was awake and purring to us this morning and even talked a bit. I left her alone on the bed while I showered for church and when I returned to her she had peacefully passed, leaving behind her broken body and the fond memories of her we will always cherish.

Please keep the Dolens and staff of Animal Aid in your thoughts as we mourn this sad loss. 2 weeks of critical care has given us much time to bond and fall in love with her. We are grateful to have met her and witnessed her bravery. We were blessed by your prayers and community support.

Please continue support Justice for Katniss and Animal Aid TN. Together we will ensure that her short life has a lasting meaning by educating those around us about animal cruelty and ensuring her tormentor is properly prosecuted.
I struggle in search for understanding of why such innocents must needlessly suffer, but know I am a better person to have loved this courageous, sweet, loving little being.

I will forever hear her tiny purr in my head from when I leaned over to kiss her this morning. That is how I wish to remember her and I hope you too will remember her fondly, not allowing hate for her tormentor to overshadow her memory.

Please join me in redirecting those negative feelings toward positive change in this world in which we live.
I love you all and am thankful to have been her doctor. I am so sorry that I could not save her.

Many have given their condolences and shared memorial photos at the Justice for Katniss Facebook page, which had been the gathering place for the love and support she received during her struggle to survive.

You can see much more about Katniss at the Facebook page. The memorial photos can bee seen in the photos posted to the page.

Cleveland police are investigating the abuse case and believe Katniss received her fatal injuries at the hands of a group of young males. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information on the case.

A touching tribute video:


Dr. Dolen and Katniss


Memorial created by Steph Ping

4 thoughts on “RIP Katniss: Kitten Burn Victim Dies”

  1. Katniss touched my heart in so many ways. Every time I read a story about her, see her picture, or look through her Facebook page my heart aches and my eyes fill with tears. It’s because little creatures like her and children depend on us to look after them. They are innocent. I struggle with my feelings towards the perpetrators who burned Katniss. Yet she brought together more than 10,000 people who are now aware that they can do something to prevent and address animal abuse. So I focus on the love she created and not the anger I have. Bless all the creatures who depend on us to be their advocate.

  2. how could someone not know she had sepsis in her body? and he was a vet! I am so sorry to hear this but maybe it was just too much for her little free at the bridge darling…

  3. Bless that vets heart, literally. Baby katniss had no one and he gave her all he could medically and emotionally. If I EVER see anyone hurting an animal or another person like this I promise you they will be in the hospital. I pray one day there will be nothing but peace on earth. No creature deserves a life how katniss lived. This breaks my heart that poor baby kitten.

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