Jesse Knott was an Army Staff Sergeant based in Afghanistan when he first met Koshka the cat. And before his tour was over, they would both save each other in more ways the one. This isn’t an action-hero story, this is a story about the importance of friendship in unimaginably difficult circumstances.
The sight of cats on the base
was not uncommon, there were always plenty passing through or hanging around.
But it was Koshka that really stood out from the crowd. “He had a great,
infectious personality” recalls Staff Sergeant Knott, “he was always playful
Once they’d become
well-acquainted Jesse started noticing signs his friend had been mistreated.
He’d turn up to the base with cuts and scratches. As any friend would, the
sergeant carefully nursed his wounds and helped him recover his health. And,
even having been mistreated, Koshka responded with love and trust.
Jesse cared so diligently for
the cat and it would soon be time for Koshka to repay him. On losing two
soldiers from his battalion, Sergeant Knott, says “I lost my faith in myself to
accomplish my mission, my faith to make proper decisions for my soldiers”. He
added that “In war you can’t count on your ability to control your environment”
and that Koshka was one of the few things he felt he had control over.
Koshka pestered him to play and wouldn’t
leave him to stew in his own thoughts. He became even more playful, gregarious
and loving. Jesse says this behaviour was “really important in getting me
through the war”. His friend had helped him focus on what needed to be done.
At the end of his tour, Jesse
ended up taking Koshka back to the USA where his parents adopted the cat and in
Jesse’s words “treat him like a king”. The sergeant saved the cat, but would
admit that the Koshka saved him every bit as much.