About five years ago, Danielle Schafer rescued a kitten off the side of the road.
The kitten was just weeks old, the final, tiny litter-mate remaining in Schafer’s tender grasp after its feral siblings scurried away into roadside brush.
Last week, “Kitty” — as the gray, domestic short-haired cat female cat is affectionately known — rescued Schafer in return, pouncing her 12-pound body atop Schafer as she slept in her Lansing bedroom and alerting her to the flames spreading through the walls of University Park Apartments.
A native of Hicksville, Nassau County, Schafer moved into her small, first-floor apartment in September when she relocated to Ithaca for her clinical year of vet school at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The night before the fire, she readied her hospital scrubs, excited for her next rotation, and was asleep before midnight.
Around 2 a.m., Schafer was jolted awake by Kitty jumping on top of her and what sounded like battering rams at her door.