Bertie seems like a happy and well-adjusted kitty when he's with us, but he is still terrorizing the neighbors and their cats. I'm thinking I might have to take him to the SPA (la Société pour la Protection des Animaux) and see if a new home for him can be found.
Examples: Last Saturday afternoon we got a phone call from a neighbor across the street. She left a message on our machine. "Your black cat has attacked my daughter and scratched her horribly. I might have to call the doctor to come examine her." The daughter is a woman about my age. I called back later and left her a message. I apologized profusely and said Bertie has always been adorable and never aggressif with us.
Just a month or so ago, the daughter had told Walt that relations between her cats and Bertie were going much better. We thought everything had settled down.
It seems that this neighber had seen Bertie on the road out in front of their house last Saturday at lunchtime and had petted him, cautiously, for a minute. Then she turned to go in her front door and Bertie came up from behind her in a surprise attack and clawed her legs. She said she immediately went to the pharmacy and had the scratches looked at. The pharmacist treated her, as they do here if they don't think you really need to see a doctor.
I know all the details now because I talked to her yesterday evening. I had gone out with Callie just before dark and heard the neighbor calling my name — or Walt's actually. I told her it was Ken and asked her how she was. Was Bertie playing when he scratched her, I asked, or was he just being mean? Just mean, she said. She said she wondered if he had some memory of her spraying him with the garden hose last summer, when he was terrorizing her cats in her yard.
She asked me if I could get him down. What? She pointed up toward the roof of her house and I saw two cats crouched down next to the brick chimney way up top. Is that Bertie? Yes, she said. He has chased one of my cats up there and won't let him come down. I was mystified and asked her if she was sure it was Bertie.
Well, it was. I called him, he looked at me, surprised, and he started coming slowly down the steep tile roof. There's an overhang sheltering the house's front door, and he came all the way down there, where I could reach him. I took him by the front legs and he let me pick him up, all cuddly and happy to be "rescued." The other cat didn't budge from its perch.
By then, Walt had heard us talking and come out to see what was going on. I handed Bertie off to him and continued talking to the neighbors, telling her how bizarre Bertie's behavior seems. With us, he's obedient and affectionate. The older neighbor opened the front door and joined the conversation. Both she and her daughter were stunned, I think, at how docile Bertie had become in our presence.
One neighbor said she thought I ought to take Bertie to the SPA and let them find him a new home. Her daughter said that wouldn't be the best thing to do. She said we should take him to the vet's and see if they can suggest any way to curb his aggressive behavior toward other cats (and people, apparently). I guess that's what we'll do.
Meanwhile, I don't know whether to keep him closed in for a while, or just let him continue roaming the hamlet the way he's been doing for six months now. I fed him a few minutes ago but didn't open his window. Now it's raining again, so he probably won't go out anyway.