(Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott)
Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott was stationed in a small village in Afghanistan in 2010, setting up camp with some of his fellow soldiers, when a small kitten came up to investigate. The cat came back to the camp many times, and Knott noticed that he showed signs of abuse. The last straw came when the cat limped back with a missing toe pad. It was then that Knott broke military regulation and kept the kitten on base, naming him Koshka and feeding him from a ration of pink salmon from a can.
Later that year, Knott’s life took a turn for the worse. His patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber, injuring everyone in the formation and killing two. Even though Knott wasn’t with them that morning, it took a heavy emotional toll. At the same time, Knott’s marriage was falling apart at home. He grew deeply depressed and planned to commit suicide.
But just when things seemed their darkest, Koshka began pawing and jumping on Knott’s lap. He climbed on his shoulders and head and made a deep purring noise that Knott had never heard before. It brought the soldier back from the edge. Knott gave up his plans and started to go about getting Koshka out of Afghanistan.
He got in contact with an animal rescue group in Kabul who would take Koshka. An interpreter volunteered to sneak the cat past Taliban checkpoints and get him to the city. It was a bold move, as the interpreter would have been killed if he were caught working with Americans. Koshka made it to the rescue and was shipped back to Knott’s parents home so that they could take care of him until the soldier returned home.
In 2013, the ASPCA honored the cat for saving Knott’s life. Knott’s couldn’t be more grateful to Koshka for helping him restore his faith in people when he’d lost it.