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Comfort Cat

Sgt. Knott and his comfort cat Koshka.

Experiencing the violence in Afghanistan was a horrible experience for Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott. Sgt. Knott risked his life while serving and also took a big risk to save the life of a cat named Koshka. The little cat came into his life is an unusual way.

While on deployment, a suicide bomber targeted a nearby military convoy and two of his soldier friends were killed. Knott says that he was struck by depression and was crying in his office when Koshka appeared. He says that, "with tears in my eyes, he locked eyes with me, reached out his paw and pressed it to my lips, then climbed down into my lap, curled up and shared the moment with me." From that moment on, Sgt. Knott knew that the cat could not stay in Afghanistan.

He had seen the cat around the area before and knew that the little unofficial mouse catcher wasn't being taken care of very well, so he made room for him in his office. Although soldiers are not allowed to have pets, he was glad that Koshka was there that day. "He pulled me out of one of my darkest times, so I had to pull him out of one of his darkest place," he says.

Unable to get the cat onto a military convoy, Sgt. Knott devised a plan with a brave local interpreter who agreed to take the cat to Kabul. Both the cat and the interpreter were in danger because if the man had been discovered to be helping an American, he would have been killed.

"The risk to him was immense," Knott said. "This is a cat with a purple collar and an American-brand cat carrier, going halfway across Afghanistan, going across God knows how many Taliban checkpoints." Once they were both safely in Kabul, Sgt. Knott's family paid the $3,000 to fly the cat to their home in Oregon.

Sgt. Knott has left Afghanistan and is currently stationed in Washington state. Once his military service concludes, he plans to reunite again with the cat that helped him through a very dark period in his life. "He was my saving grace," Sgt. Knott said. "He kept me alive during that tour."