One soldier in Afghanistan says his life was saved -- by a cat. Staff Sgt. Jesse Knotts was an emotional wreck after seeing two of his friends "violently taken away" in the war zone by suicide bombers. He says he was in his office crying when the sweet tabby cat he had earlier snatched off the streets because he was being abused came over and crawled into his lap. His life, and the cat's, would never be the same.
Knotts adopted the spotted tabby cat, whom he named Koshka, which is Russian for "cat," when he realized the kitty was being abused. One time, he saw the cat had paint in his fur -- another time, someone had shaved him with clippers. Despite rules that soldiers cannot have pets (dumb rule!), Knotts set up the kitten in his office. It's a good thing he did, because Koshka ended up being there at a time when Knotts really needed an angel.
Knotts describes the moment he was in his office, devastated at the deaths of his friends:
I was so devastated that I lost all hope. Two of my friends were violently taken away. I'd lost hope in myself. I'd lost faith. Then all of a sudden this cat came over and it was like 'Hey, you are you.'
I know this feeling all too well. There once was a time in my life when I was thrown into such a dark emotional place that I didn't know how I would ever crawl out of it. My cats (I had three at the time) were my lifeline. Just like Knotts, who said he couldn't let himself get too down because he had to take care of Koshka, I couldn't think about doing anything too rash because I couldn't possibly leave my babies behind.
Animals are like that. They give you absolute unconditional love. Humans can be amazing -- but unconditional love is something you're never going to get from them. Even the most loving spouses can get cranky and fed up with you.
Knotts has no doubt that Koshka saved his life. He told KPTV-KPDX:
He was my saving grace. He kept me alive during that tour.
Determined to get Koshka out of Afghanistan, he sent him on a very risky trip with an Afghani interpreter, who volunteered to smuggle the feline to Kabul. If he'd been caught with the cat, he could have been killed for helping an American! From there, Knotts' parents paid the $3,000 fee to bring the kitty home to Portland, Oregon. Oh man. This story makes me cry!
This is one lucky cat. And one lucky soldier. I'm so glad they found each other.
Have you ever had a pet save your life?
Image via KPTV