When a soldier rescued a stray cat while on deployment in Afghanistan, he didn’t expect the cat to save his life in his darkest moments.
In July 2010, Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott was serving in Afghanistan when he spotted a stray cat wandering around as Knott and the other soldiers set up a camp.
“There was this cute cat running running around and doing his cute kitten things,” Knott told Andrew Walsh Show. “Everybody fell in love with him.”
As time goes by, he noticed signs of abuse on the cat—part of his fur was shaved off and a toe pad was coming off.
Though soldiers are not allowed to keep animals on the base, Knott couldn’t ignore the cat’s plight and took the cat in.
“In an environment like that, if you’re limp or lame, you’re not going to make it,” he told OregonLive.
Knott named the cat “Koshka,” which means Russian for cat, and fed him some canned pink salmon given by Knott’s commander.
“This bond just started to develop between the two of us that I couldn’t put words to,” Knott recalled.
In December that year, Knott experienced one of his darkest moments in life—two friends were killed in a suicide attack, and Knott’s marriage was failing.
Knott wanted to commit suicide, but Koshka wouldn’t allow this to happen.
“He would just not leave me alone,” Knott said.
The cat would constantly demand for Knott’s attention and eventually pulled him out of his depression.
I went to the vet on Saturday for a routine check up. NO FUN – he poked me, he actually POKED ME!!! I would have bitten…
Knott then made a decision to take Koshka back with him to the United States. However, this was easier said than done.
Knott and his mother found a Kabul-based animal rescue group that could help get Koshka out of the country if they could get him over to them.
Fortunately, an interpreter offered his help on this dangerous task.
“If this interpreter had been stopped at checkpoints manned by the Taliban, he would have probably been shot,” Knott said.
Koshka eventually made it to Kabul and later arrived at Portland International Airport and was picked up by Knott’s mother.
In 2013, Koshka received the Oregon Humane Society Diamond Collar Hero Award and was also honored by the ASPCA.
“Staff Sgt. Knott’s story truly touched our hearts, and clearly exemplifies the importance of the human-animal bond,” the ASPCA’s Lindsay Sklar, senior director for special events, explained the reason for honoring Koshka.
“It is obvious that Staff Sgt. Knott saved Koshka’s life, but Koshka also saved Staff Sgt. Knott’s life in return.”
Watch the video below:
You may also want to watch this video
These kittens are rescued from the confined space they lived in—but where is their mother?