March 23, 2013

A soldier in Afghanistan saves a wounded cat from the battlefield and nurses him back to health.The soldier soon realizes that the bit of compassion and love that cat showed him is what it took to stay strong

A soldier from Oregon City and a feral cat from Afghanistan might be one of the world’s best pairs. They both saved each other’s lives, although the soldier is probably the only one who will admit that.

Sgt. Jesse Knott met the stray cat while in one of the roughest, most dangerous places on earth. He was stationed at an Army base in southern Afghanistan when he noticed the feline roaming around the rugged base.

He was a handsome cat, but had open wounds – deep cuts and blood. 

“I remember he came limping out from one of the barriers. We had these giant concrete barriers to protect us from mortar attacks,” Knott said. “I saw a blood trail behind him as he was limping.”

Knott suspected the cat was abused by people in the area so one day he snuck the animal into his office on the base and locked the door.

He managed to lure the animal with a piece of steak. Knott also gave the cat a name – Koshka, which is Russian for cat.

For seven months Knott cared for Koshka, fed him and nursed him back to health.

Knott is currently stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Seattle, but spoke to KATU today via FaceTime. 

“(Koshka) gave a lot of love back to me. He was the thing that got me through some of my darkest times on that deployment,” Knott said. “When two of my friends were killed in a suicide attack I lost all hope. It was my darkest time and he’s what got me through it. Just the bit of compassion and love that cat showed me is what it took to remind me to stay strong.”

When Knott’s deployment ended and he left Afghanistan, he knew he couldn’t leave Koshka behind. He worked with a non-profit in Kabul to help get the necessary permission to bring a cat back to the states.

His parents then ponied up $3,000 for a flight to bring the cat to Oregon City. Koshka lives with Knott’s parents until he is discharged from Fort Lewis. 

“I miss him so much. I think about him all the time,” Knott said.

Technically cats aren’t allowed on Army bases, but in Afghanistan Knott’s commanders made an exception when they saw how both the cat and soldier helped each other.

“It means more than I could tell you,” Knott said. “That cat saved my life.”

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