Danielle Schafer was sleeping in her apartment one night last month when her cat Kitty suddenly woke her up.
“She jumped on me and I woke up,” said Danielle.
The woman and Kitty had recently moved into their New York apartment while she was in her senior year of veterinary college at Cornell University.
The pair have been inseparable since Danielle rescued the kitten five years ago from the roadside.
“I wouldn’t keep it,” said Danielle. “I was trying to find a good home for her.”
But the cat won her heart.
Kitty sometimes sleeps next to Danielle, but she usually doesn’t try to wake her up.
However, shortly after being awakened by the cat that night, Danielle heard a huge explosion outside her apartment.
The loud blast startled Kitty, who immediately jumped and ran out of bed.
Danielle ran to the door of the apartment. “I saw red flames, smoke and fire,” she said. “I started running back to my room.”
When she returned to the room, the woman did not find her kitten, and knew that they had to leave the apartment immediately.
“I was screaming, Kitty! Kitty! Kitty! It was the desperate screams that probably scared her the most, ”said Danielle.
The door was blocked with all those intense flames.
“I was trying to unlock my bedroom windows. They wouldn’t open, ”said Danielle. “The smoke was coming. I started crying because I couldn’t find my cat. ”
She closed the bedroom door and, wearing only her pajamas, ran out of her last exit, a courtyard door, also surrounded by flames.
“I ran through fire and smoke,” she said. “I was shouting:‘ Help! Help! Help! Help! ‘”
Fortunately, the woman’s shouts were heard by a man near the building.
“’ My cat is here! My cat is here! ”Danielle said, pointing to the bedroom window.
The man broke the window glass with a kick.
“I tried to go back, but he grabbed me and said, ‘You can’t go back there!’”
Danielle was so focused on saving Kitty that she didn’t realize how quickly the fire spread. She looked up and saw that her entire building was now engulfed in flames.
As she stood and stunned, the parents of two small children living on the second floor opened the window for help. They could not leave the front door because of the fire.
“There was an entire family trapped in their apartment,” said Danielle. “They left one baby for me and the other for the man.”
She ran with the child in her arms to a nearby parking lot for safety. Soon the parents escaped and reunited with their children.
Danielle believes her cries for help finding Kitty may have been what awakened some residents because she doesn’t remember hearing fire alarms.
When the firefighters arrived, Danielle begged them to save Kitty.
“I told them she must be hidden and scared”
Rescuers promised they would try to find their kitten.
Authorities persuaded her to safely leave other residents to go to a nearby hotel while firefighters were fighting the fire.
Danielle went to the hotel and a friend brought her clothes. But the next day, she returned to the apartment.
She was heartbroken to see the apartment, but she clung to the hope that Kitty had survived.
The fire consumed almost everything Danielle had.
“I heard a firefighter say,‘ Where’s that girl? Where’s that girl? ‘,” Said the woman.
He was holding Kitty!
“It was like a movie. It was fantastic! She was in his arms. Kitty looked at me like she was mad because she was being held by someone else. ”
“I got into what was left of her apartment,” said Brad George, deputy chief of the fire department and first responder for Kitty. “I opened the bedroom door and saw the bed and the pillows against the wall. I started pulling back the pillows very slowly and saw a kitten. She was breathing. I was like, ‘She’s alive!’ ”
George put Kitty in his coat and took her to Danielle. And that’s when Danielle learned about the incredible series of events that helped save her cat.
When Danielle closed the bedroom door, the fire that was about to take over her room diminished.
When the man broke Danielle’s window, he created a fresh air opening for the kitten to breathe.
And when Kitty buried herself in Danielle’s pillows, it may have helped filter the smoke she breathed.
Danielle took Kitty to Cornell University’s veterinary emergency room, where she spent several days recovering.
“The doctors said it was a miracle she was alive. She is a miracle! ”
Now Danielle wants to find and thank the mysterious man who responded to her desperate requests and broke the window trying to find Kitty.
“I have no idea who he is,” she said. “But I am very grateful to him.”
And most of all, Danielle believes Kitty saved many lives that night.
“If she hadn’t woken me up, I don’t know if she would be here now,” said the woman. “She waking me up was what helped me save the others. I think God was watching. He put these people and these animals in my life for a reason. I saved Kitty. She rescued me. So I saved her back. ”
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