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Feline friend and I have a love-hate-love relationship

So I have this cat …

Actually, I have two cats. They are almost identical – both regular tabby cats. One is named Katniss (so I could call her Kat and not feel bad) and the other, a boy, was named Mushy by my grandchildren.

He’s the subject of this column and the cause of most of the daily cuts and scratches on my hands and arms.

Despite the kids naming him Mushy, I call him … well, let’s just say it’s a word that rhymes with wormhole.

Why? Because he is. I’m just being honest here.

He’s about 18 months old, give or take. As a kitten, he was so loving and sweet and that’s how he got his first name. Then at about 9 months old, after me repeatedly calling him the word that rhymes with wormhole — not in front of the kids of course, — I decided it would be his new “secret” name from now on.

I have watched this cat jump onto the kitchen counter when he thinks I’m not looking and slowly but methodically, bat things to the ground with his paw for no other reason than to see it fall. When he realizes I’m watching, he grins (not even kidding) and knocks something else off while looking me in the eyes.

He’s in cahoots with the dogs too. He will jump onto the fridge, knock down the bread, rip open the bag and share his score with the dogs. I know this because I wake up some mornings to find an empty bag of bread on the floor and crumbs on the dogs’ bed.

Katniss just shakes her head at him and generally doesn’t bother with him. She’s much too mature for such exploits and very independent aka she hates us all and spends most of her time avoiding everyone.

However, Mushy, being the wormhole he is, picks on her any time he can, which generally means eating the food from her dish, running full speed when he sees her head to the cat litter just to jump in there first and treating her tail like it was a mouse running across the floor, pouncing on it and biting it.

The other morning he caught a small bird in the backyard and brought it into the house – and then let it go.

If I wear a dress, he decides the hem is a toy and leaps up to catch it in his mouth, using my bare legs as leverage.

He will jump on my lap purring and when I go to scratch his head, he decides it would be funnier if he bit my fingers instead. Some days he’s content to just take a running leap and landing, claws out, onto my chest or stomach.

When he’s mad at me, he gets back at me by running between my feet while I’m walking. There are days I think he’s trying to kill me.

However, each night as I get into bed, there he is. He climbs into bed after me and crawls up into a ball on the pillow next to me and gently lays a paw on my cheek as if to say “good night.” Some nights, he decides to lay near my feet and somehow, it’s always the nights my feet are hurting and the warmth feels wonderful.

It’s those nights I reconsider my new name for him — until he decides that swatting my nose at 5 a.m. is a good idea.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com