Veterans Reunite With The Cats They Rescued While On Deployment

For longer than any of us have been alive, animals have traveled with military units in combat missions.

The most obvious mental image this fact tends to inspire is that of a medieval knight riding a horse into battle, but you're just as likely to see military dogs carry on important duties like finding explosives and neutralizing targets in modern times.

But even when the animals of war don't have official jobs, they tend to play important roles as they've been known to provide crucial comfort for veterans as they cope with the mental effects their missions have had on them.

Although we tend to picture emotional support animals as doing this once a soldier returns home, one heartwarming story of two veterans reuniting with their precious new friends shows this can happen in the field as well.

While she was stationed in Lithuania, a woman who goes by Sgt. Arielle happened upon a severely malnourished cat she would later name Cathulhu.

And as she told People, this cat would not only become much happier and more playful after Sgt. Arielle fed and cared for her, but also end up helping her back.

As she put it, "I have been going through a difficult time recently, and Cathulhu showed up at the perfect time. We refer to her as a therapy cat because anytime you are sad or upset, she starts up the purr machine and comes to give you a bath."

And while they met under slightly different circumstances, another veteran who goes by Sgt. Marisol would develop a similar relationship with the cat she named after actress Mariska Hargitay.

Sgt. Marisol told People that her base in Poland had over 20 cats milling around it, but one kitten obviously took a shine to her as she walked back to her dorm from her post.

In her words, "I looked back, and there was a baby kitten following close to me. I looked around, and she was really far from the rest of her litter. I attempted to look for her mother but could not find her."

So just like Sgt. Arielle, she started feeding the cat and became fast friends with her.

When the time came for both of them to return to the United States, neither of these veterans wanted their new friends to be abdandoned all over again.

Fortunately for them, SPCA International has a program specifically intended to reunite those in the service with the animals they befriend in the line of duty called Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide.

According to People, this program has allowed over 1,000 veterans to officially adopt their found animals. And despite what the name would suggest, the stories of Sgt. Arielle and Sgt. Marisol make it clear that this isn't just for dogs.

So not only have both Sgt. Arielle and Sgt. Marisol been reunited with their beloved cats, but it happened right in time for the holidays.

And while SPCA International is happy to give back to veterans who put in this request from any part of the world, their communications director Emma Kronish said it's not something that happens easily.

In her words, "We coordinate their vaccinations, flight arrangements, and pick up and transport to partner kennels and complete the necessary steps and paperwork to ensure that legal import requirements are followed."

But considering that both veterans are back home with the animals that gave them as much support as they received, the results are well worth it.

h/t: People

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