There are often stories in the media about dogs saving their owners’ lives or coming to their rescue at a time of need. Cats feature in such stories less often, but that does not mean that your feline friend cannot help if you suddenly find yourself in a terrible situation. One person who was glad to have a cat around when she was in danger was Danielle Schafer, who was lucky enough to have her cat alert her to the terrible danger she was in when her apartment caught on fire.
According to The Dodo, Schafer had rescued her cat, who she calls Kitty, five years earlier after finding her abandoned at the side of the road. Initially, Schafer had not intended to keep the cat, and she was hoping to find a loving home for her. However, the cat’s sweet eyes won her over and she decided that she would keep the cat after all. Ever since then, the two had been inseparable. As an animal lover, Schafer had decided to embark on a career as a veterinarian, so she enrolled in the veterinary school at Cornell University. When she began studying for her final year, she moved into a new apartment in Lansing, New York, and took Kitty along with her. They soon settled in and Kitty would often sleep on the bed alongside her loving owner.
On the night of the fire, Schafer and Kitty had an early night because Schafer was due to start a new work placement that was part of her studies the following day. She wanted to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for the placement. As usual, Kitty curled up beside her owner. After Schafer had fallen asleep, Kitty began nudging at her, jumping on her, and meowing. This was unusual as although Kitty often slept with Schafer, she did not usually try to waken her. Schafer couldn’t understand why Kitty was doing this and as she lay wondering what was wrong with the cat, she heard a loud noise like a battering ram and then there was a loud explosion. The noise scared Kitty and she ran away.
Schafer immediately sprung into action and ran to her bedroom door to investigate the situation. When she left her bedroom, she was met with leaping red flames licking up the walls of her apartment and clouds of dark smoke. According to the Ithaca Journal, Schafer ran straight back into her bedroom to find Kitty. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find the cat, despite shouting her name over and over. Apart from the earlier banging and the explosion, which Schafer later discovered were exploding propane tanks, she could not hear a thing. She has said that none of the smoke alarms were triggered by the flames.
Although she could not find her cat, Schafer decided to escape from her apartment, and she could only hope that Kitty had done the same. After her escape, she and a passerby helped the family who lived in the apartment above her own. They dropped their two children down for her to catch before escaping themselves. Schafer had hoped that once she was outside, she would discover that had made it to safety. Unfortunately, she still could not find her and none of the neighbors had seen her either. Distraught, Schafer could only hope that there was still a slim chance that Kitty would make it out of the fire. Once the firefighters had extinguished the flames, she gave them a description of Kitty so that they could look for her while they dealt with the aftermath of the blaze.
Those who lived in the apartment block had lost everything in the fire, and they had nowhere to stay. Everyone pulled together and a local hotel was able to put up all the residents for the night. Schafer’s friend brought her some clothes so that she had something clean to wear. The following morning, Schafer and the rest of the residents returned to the apartment building, and they were all devastated by the scene that met them. The building was completely destroyed, and all their possessions were gone. However, the only thought on Schafer’s mind was Kitty. She still had a glimmer of hope that her cat was alive.
Still unable to enter the smoldering building, Schafer begged the firefighters to take another look for her cat. It was then that Kitty was discovered in Schafer’s bedroom. In an effort to escape the smoke, Kitty had buried herself beneath the pillows and stayed there until she was rescued by the firefighter. Despite her horrific ordeal, Kitty was barely harmed. She needed treatment for smoke inhalation but has now completely recovered from the incident. Schafer cannot believe that her cat survived a fire that caused such devastation. She is truly grateful to her cat for alerting her to the fire and saving her life. Schafer is also grateful to the fire service for continuing to look for her cat.
For her bravery in this incident, Kitty is being awarded a Heroic Cat Award from the PETA, says WHCU Radio. A spokesperson for the PETA, Vice President Colleen O’Brien, said that it is only because of Kitty’s unconditional love for her owner that Schafer is still alive today. The cat’s bravery made the difference between life and death in this situation. O’Brien went on to say that this is the perfect example of how a pet that has been rescued shows their gratitude and returns the favor. She then encouraged other people to consider adopting a rescue cat or dog just like Schafer. As part of receiving the Heroic Cat Award, Schafer and Kitty will receive a framed certificate and a basket of cat toys and vegan treats for Kitty. This is just a small token of recognition for her heroic bravery.