It’s no secret that cats provide lots of comfort to us, especially when we’re down. Cats can even help with depression and grief. Their soft paws, their quiet understanding, their sympathy (whether real or perceived), all conspire to help lift us up, even just a little bit. Overseas, a mutual rescue relationship has developed between our soldiers, and cats displaced by war. In the chaos and terror that is war, we find that, often, cats and soldiers rescue each other.
Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott, and Koshka, in Afghanistan
One very touching story of how cats and soldiers rescue each other is that of Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott. He was in a remote part of Afghanistan for a week when he noticed a little gray kitten that was hanging around with a pack of stray cats and dogs, according to an article in USA Today. Unfortunately, it was fairly soon that Knott began noticing signs of abuse on the kitten, likely by other soldiers in the area.
When the kitten appeared one day, trailing blood from an injury to its paw, Knott couldn’t sit by anymore. He took the kitten, and then told his commander that he had a refugee. His commander wasn’t amused at first, and left, but then returned with “humanitarian aid” in the form of tins of salmon.
The kitten, whom Knott named Koshka (Russian for “cat”), became a kind of mascot for his unit. After long, grueling, difficult missions, Koshka could provide amusement and comfort for the soldiers of the unit. For Knott, Koshka helped to distract him from chronic pain due to injuries sustained in a previous deployment. When he suffered a new injury—a fractured clavicle—he was unable to go out on foot patrols due to the pain.
A suicide bomber stepped into the middle of that patrol and blew himself up. Knott lost two friends, and became suicidal himself. He was trying to work in his office one day, and Koshka just wasn’t having any of it. He was head-butting, purring, rubbing, and pawing at Knott. Koshka reminded Knott that his life was connected to other lives. He felt he owed it to Koshka to rescue him from Afghanistan.
Knott arranged to have Koshka sent to Oregon, where he now lives with Knott’s parents. He’s healthy and happy, and a testament to how cats and soldiers rescue each other.
Three Marines have a mission to rescue animals from Afghanistan, and send them to the U.S.
Love Meow has a series of photographs of Marines with cats in Afghanistan, and is another example of how cats and soldiers rescue each other. Three Marines have actually started a mission to get some of these cats from the war-torn areas of Afghanistan to the U.S., and into loving forever homes.
The mission is found at AfghanKittyRescue.webs.com, and one of the things they talk about in depth on their main page is how cats and soldiers rescue each other. The cats provide companionship, love, and help boost morale; and the soldiers provide food, veterinary care, and their own love.
Afghan Kitty Rescue has the stories of three of the cats that they rescued and managed to get to the U.S. It’s expensive to rescue animals and ship them to the U.S., because they aren’t allowed on military transport. Afghan Kitty Rescue relies entirely on donations to meet their mission.
Cats and soldiers rescue each other quite often
Bored Panda has a ton of photos showing how cats and soldiers rescue each other. They start their listicle with this:
“War is hell, and the soldiers that fight it are just people – they need love too. The animals stranded in dangerous warzones and the soldiers that fight in them gravitate towards each other because they need each other – the soldiers can rescue animals that would otherwise remain homeless, while the animals provide soldiers with some much-needed love and therapy.”
Some of those photos are actually with dogs, which are just as therapeutic as cats, and help soldiers suffering from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. There are many heartwarming pictures where cats and soldiers rescue each other, too. This happens because they fill a mutual hole inside each other’s hearts and souls.