I grew up with dogs. Not cats. My dad hated cats. I won’t repeat the exact phrase he used about his hatred of felines, but it has something to do with car tires. And since he’s passed away, I’ll never know what could possibly have made cats that heinous to him.

However, my luck with cats has not caused me to share my father’s strong sentiments.

My first cat-owning experience was short and bittersweet. Living in Chicago, my co-worker at that time took in an adult cat and within two weeks announced, “Molly, I know you love animals. Either you take this cat or it’s going to the pound.”

I didn’t even question it. The cat was named Kramer and was the sweetest cat who ever pawed God’s green earth. He also had a habit of waking you up in the middle of the night for petting sessions and had to be as close to your face as possible at all times.  After only three months, we bonded. But then Kramer’s kidneys failed and he met a brutal end.

It’s been 12 years and I still get teary-eyed when thinking about him.

I swore off cats after that — too many feels. I nearly made it a whole year until another friend and co-worker came creeping, saying, “Molly, if you don’t take in this cat, it will have to go to the pound.”

Man, I am a sucker. Or I just need some new friends. I should have known this wouldn’t turn out like the fairy tale cat-owning experience I dreamed about. You know, the one that goes: “I feed it and it loves me unconditionally.”

The very first evening my little six-month-old black cat, newly dubbed Lucy, rewarded me for taking her in was with a claw right into the pad of my thumb. I wasn’t even trying to pet her. I had given her space to get used to the place and was innocently sitting on the couch watching a movie. Didn’t even see her coming. And so it commenced — the yearlong dance that involved me run-diving into my bed each night and Lucy hiding underneath the bed preparing to jump out at the very last second and draw fresh blood from my already scarred body parts.

I had a spray bottle on every table in the house, which lessened the attacks but didn’t stop them. Lucy is a slow learner. Yet, I loved the ever-living crap out of this cat as evidenced in the trillion pictures I’ve taken of her. I should consider therapy to explore this apparently masochistic side of my personality.

After about a year-and-a-half into our relationship, we had to prepare for a big move. With a pool of “friends” more likely to give away cats than take them in, Lucy accompanied me to Maryland to live with my sister so I could go back to school. My sister had cats without claws and so Lucy was subjected to the same fate four months before the official move. (Side note: I wouldn’t declaw a cat again, so let it go, what’s done is done.)

I read up on introducing cats to other cats and took all the advice. It didn’t work. Lucy is a loner. After countless fights, cat anti-depressants and her peeing all over my sister’s basement wall-to-wall carpeting, she was assigned to a large bathroom to live in until I moved out. She did well there. Had a window seat, tons of toys and I spent a good amount of time in the bathroom keeping her company.

She only attacked me eight or nine times that whole year. But instead of using her claws, she had graduated to teeth. Ouch! (Around this time, I began referring to her as “Lucyfur.”)

Now, five years into living in our own two-bedroom apartment, she is pretty content. It’s been an expensive roller coaster. Within four months of moving to Maryland, she was diagnosed with asthma and uses an inhaler twice a day. That’s fun. Five months after that, she had bladder stone surgery (she now eats special food) and two years ago was diagnosed with Feline Corona Virus.

She is the most expensive kitty I’ve ever known — and not even that nice.

But with age, she has mostly phased out the attacks. And I do mean mostly, I have some pretty rough bite marks on my arm right now, as I’m typing this. I rarely have to make a jumping leap into bed at night, though. She has fallen hopelessly and faithfully in love with my boyfriend – whom she actually prefers. Traitor. I am the one who feeds her, after all. And, yes, even after all that, l still love the ever-living crap out of her. And every time she rubs her head on my leg (marking myself as hers), my heart swells.

No matter what she says, I know Lucy loves me.

Molly Blosse is Jmore’s senior graphic designer.