‘A Friend for Life’: Sgt. Jesse Knott Saves Abused Cat in Afghanistan

A U.S. Army official from Oregon City who served at a camp deep inside Afghanistan received statewide recognition for developing an unlikely friendship with a cat.

Sgt. Jesse Knott found the young Koshka being abused by tormentors in Southern Afghanistan before beating the odds to take him home to Oregon City. Photo: Jesse Knott/Facebook

The story of army staff sergeant Jesse Knott’s remarkable friendship with a little cat named Koshka is making headlines in his hometown of Oregon City and around the nation.

Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott rescued his cat, Koshka, while serving in Afghanistan.

“You lose faith in a lot but sometimes it’s the smallest things that bring you back,” Knotts said.

Once Knott realized that Koshka’s safety was at risk living in the war zone, he even made costly and perilous arrangements for him to be sent from Afghanistan all the way to Oregon.

Koshka was a small kitten of perhaps a month or two old at the time of meeting Knott. He was a loving affectionate kitten at first, but started showing signs of being abused a couple of months after Knott’s team arrived.

“He was showing some signs that people weren’t taking very good care of him,” Staff Sgt. Knotts said.

“The final straw was when I found him limping one day with a bloody injury to his toe pad and what seemed to be a possible hip injury,” Knott said.

“I decided to treat his wounds and keep him sequestered in my office. Shortly after I treated his wounds, we bonded and I knew I had to keep him safe until I could find a way to rescue him.”

Knott was able to take Koshka under his wing after being wounded in a previous deployment to Iraq.

He was not able to perform his normal infantry duties and was assigned to gathering and processing all battlefield intelligence for the company commander. So Knott had a locked office in which he could secure Koshka.

However, the moment Koshka (named after the Russian word for “cat”) truly became family for Knott was when a suicide bomb attack took the lives of two of the soldier’s friends that December.

“I was so devastated that I lost all hope,” Knott said in an interview with WBTV. In that moment it was the little cat who let Knott know that he was not alone.

“With tears in my eyes he locked eyes with me, reached out with his paw and pressed it to my lips, then climbed down into my lap curled up and shared the moment with me,” Knott explained to the Clackamas Review.

In that moment, Knotts says he realized Koshka could not stay in Afghanistan.

“He pulled me out of one of my darkest times so I had to pull him out of one of his darkest places,” Knotts said.

With the help of a local interpreter, Koshka was transported to Kabul where he began a $3,000 journey to Oregon City. But there is no question for the family that their newest addition was worth the cost.

“I could hardly believe it,” Knott said.

“If he were stopped by a Taliban checkpoint, he surely would have been killed for working with the Americans since the locals of the area put so little value in anything but livestock. Pets were practically unheard of, and should someone take a pet, it was pretty much always a dog.”

The Oregon Humane Society honored Knott among five heroes on Feb. 27 with Diamond Collar Awards recognizing both animals and people for remarkable achievements.

OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon noted that Knott endured a chaotic, dangerous and deadly situation with so much out of his control.

But what he could control was his compassion, and in an effort to right a terrible wrong, he reached out and saved the life of a cat, writes Portland Tribune.

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