...qui n'égratigne. That means: "No cat is too small to scratch you." Never underestimate your adversaries, in other words. Not that I have any!
Let me say this about the neighbor whose only solution to the Bertie situation is to take him to the SPA (the French counterpart of our SPCA and RSPCA). She doesn't seem to be anybody's favorite neighbor. She and our other neighbors across the road have been on the outs with each other for years... decades, actually. I wouldn't call it a feud, but an icy silence reigns.
From what I can glean, she is also on the outs with other neighbors too. I surmise as much from her absence when there are neighborhood gatherings and she and her daughter are about the only neighbors not in attendance. A few years ago, some people invited us and them over together for a New Year's cocktail, but they first asked us to assure them that we were all were on speaking terms. That was a clue.
So I do consider the source of the cat-handling advice. And I hope none of them reads this blog!
It's interesting that two other neighbors have told me that one of these neighbors' cats — a beautiful, pure white one, the polar opposite of Bertie in appearance — is also very aggressive. One neighbor says that several times the white cat has come into her house through an open door or window, and she says the cat gets pushy and uncooperative when she tries to shoo it out. Another described the white cat as « effronté » — the dictionary gives "insolent, impudent, cheeky (Brit), sassy (US)" as translations for that term.
As for Bertie's aggressive behavior, I of course have no idea why he mounted a sneak attack on the neighbor woman's legs. I can't know whether she did anything to provoke him. I am really glad that she and her mother witnessed our interaction with Bertie, when we found him up on their roof the other day. I called him and he came to me immediately. He almost jumped into my arms. I handed him off to Walt and their was no struggle or commotion. He was docility incarnate.
I appreciate all the advice and information in the comments. I don't want to keep Bertie confined, especially since he and Callie don't mix happily. Chats et chiens, mauvais voisins, they say. Bertie is too independent to become an indoor cat now. I also don't want to give him up, and I certainly don't want him euthanized. We've become really fond of him. Besides, he hasn't committed any crime, and he doesn't have a terminal illness.
"Day by day..." is my blog tagline. So that's what it will be.
It's time for Bertie to go to the vet's anyway, so I'll take him this week, if I can figure out how. He needs some booster shots and a general checkup. It'll be a good chance to talk to one of the vets about his behavior, cat behavior in general, and our options.
By the way, looking around I found French this blog written by a cat. It's called "in the eye of a cat" — as the cat sees things.