Proof that love and courage come in all shapes and sizes.
When Danielle Schafer rescued a kitten she found on the side of the road, she never imagined the tiny fluff ball would one day save her life and the lives of others during a devastating fire.
We have to stop!” Danielle Schafer pleaded to a friend when they spotted a kitten on the side of the road as they were driving near their Cornell University campus in upstate New York. Studying to be a veterinarian, Danielle had a soft heart for animals. Scooping up the tiny ball of fur, she whispered, “I’m going to find you a good home.”
But as she gazed into the kitty’s eyes, Danielle realized the sweet girl had already found a home with her.
Over the next five years, Danielle and “Kitty” became inseparable. Kitty was her study buddy and best friend. And one night, in October 2019, she became her lifesaver.
Danielle was in her final year of school and was living in an off-campus apartment. Every night, Kitty slept curled up beside her. They’d been asleep for a few hours when suddenly…
What’s going on? Danielle thought groggily as Kitty pounced on her chest. “Stop,” she grumbled. But Kitty kept pawing at her. Maybe she heard a noise, Danielle thought. Climbing out of bed, she stepped out into the living area…and froze. A wall of bright orange flames raged in front of her!
The apartment is on fire! Danielle panicked as she ran back into the bedroom. “Kitty, we have to get out of here,” she cried. But she couldn’t find the cat. “Please, Kitty, come to me,” Danielle begged. It shattered her heart, but with the flames growing, she had to get out and ran out through a patio door.
Hearing Danielle screaming, the family in the apartment above threw open a window. “Please help us,” they pleaded, then dropped one child out the window for Danielle to catch, and another to a man who had been passing by. Then the mom and dad escaped too.
By the time the fire department arrived, the entire building was engulfed in flames. “My cat’s in there!” Danielle stammered to firefighters as she and her neighbors were taken to a hotel. Please, let them find her, she sobbed.
As soon as the sun came up, Danielle went back to the building. Firefighters were still there but hadn’t found her cat. Danielle’s heart sank, but she refused to give up hope and began searching under cars, behind bushes.
Then, like something out of the movies, a burly firefighter approached her cradling Kitty in his arms, covered in soot. He’d seen Danielle’s desperation and went in to look one more time. He said he’d found her hiding under the covers and pillows on Danielle’s bed, which had miraculously survived the blaze.
“She’s a miracle kitty,” Danielle sobbed as she took Kitty to the vet, where, after a couple of days on oxygen, she was deemed healthy.
“You saved me and our neighbors. You are a hero,” Danielle wept, nuzzling Kitty. The American Red Cross agreed, awarding Kitty their Animal Rescue award.
“I don’t know what would have happened if Kitty hadn’t been there that day,” Danielle says. “She truly is a gift from God.”