I tried everything I could think of to coax next door’s cat – a sturdy black creature – over the boundary line so I could give it a fuss. First, the usual pursed lips and gentle clucking noises. The cat’s only response was to settle down on the sun-warmed flag-stones, its stout front legs tucked firmly under its chest and its haughty gaze directed out over the lawn.
After a moment, I remembered what I’d read about cats and eye contact – that a direct stare is considered a threat. After a furtive glance to ensure there were no human witnesses to my debasement, I tried bestowing a slow blink on the creature - an attempt to let it know that friendly terms were entirely possible. An invitation to parley, as it were. The beast responded with a slow blink of its own – although whether eyes that close but don’t reopen can be defined as blinking, I’m not quite sure.
Desperate in the way that only a beleaguered former cat owner can be when faced with such feline disdain, I pursed my lips and chirped more loudly. The loud, high pitched squeak that emerged, entirely of its own accord, resembled the distressed chirrup of a wounded bird.
Peeping out from under my hair, I noticed two wide yellow eyes watching me intently from next door’s patio. La bête noire had finally taken note.