Premonition missed evil cat

During the summer period, you may notice an increase in the number of awful news stories. People slip-sliding over roads, off boats, into rivers, down paths and getting lost in the wild.

I had a home invasion.

It started, I think, with a phone call from my aunt asking, very tentatively, if I was all right.

"Yip. All good," I said. "Why? What's wrong?"

In our family (and many others, I'm sure), you always have to preface phone conversations with "What's wrong?" because nine times out of 10, something is wrong. No-one ever just rings for a chat, so you spend the opening gambit with a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach waiting for how the conversation will go. Something like this:

"Hi, how are you?"

"Good, thanks. You?"

"Good, thanks. Grandma's dead."

Anyway, Aunty Helen told me she had woken up crying for two mornings in a row because of recurrent dreams that I was dying.

"I'm absolutely fine," I tell her down the phone.

"But Rebecca, it's been awful. I've had to tell Grandma."

Suddenly there are two clues that this is serious. One, she's called me Rebecca, and two, she's told Grandma.

There are plenty of worries in Grandma's life and I am sure someone else's dream does not have to be one of them.

I spend several minutes assuring Aunty Helen that I am in rude health while simultaneously texting my "still alive" status to the grandmother, who was also relieved but not completely sold.

The pair of them love premonitions but neither is known for ever being right.

I am house-sitting again for a friend who has gone to Aussie. She has a cat called Russell.

Russell is a small tabby cat who hangs around when he's hungry, stays for a quick pat and is otherwise unseen.

When pet-sitting, I believe it is responsible to get to know the pet, make it feel relaxed and all that. So I fed and petted old Russ, had dinner and went to bed, lights out.

In the morning, I heard the sound of a cat padding.

"Here, Russell," I called from bed.

The padding drew closer, followed by the brief pause before a cat leaps.

And then my heart actually stopped.

A dark grey cat with - and I don't think this is over-egging it - evil in its eyes had landed on my bed.

The home invader was not Russell the tabby cat. It was a weird little Burmese with low-slung shoulders and a tiny head. It gave me the fright of my natural days.

New Cat was dark and got his grill up into my grill. He tried to get under the sheets. This was no first- time offender.

Then I remembered the homeowner saying a dark cat sometimes came in and I should shoo it out. I did so but not before being a proper investigative journalist and reading the name on its collar. Murphy.

Perhaps this was the premonition my aunt spoke of?

Anyway, last night I was having trouble getting to sleep. I tossed and turned, arms and legs in all directions. Eventually I found a sweet spot, face down near the edge of the bed, left arm hanging off the bed.

I'd stopped worrying about sharks and serial killers under the bed years ago, so this position was perfect. I was just about asleep.

Until something wet nudged my finger. This time my heart didn't stop, it went into double, maybe triple time. It was Murphy's wet nose.

Do you think I could sleep after that?

Aunty Helen didn't say exactly what I was dying of in her dream but if it was feline-induced coronary, then we may have proof of psychic abilities in my family.

At least then we'd never have to ask what's wrong at the start of a phone call. We'd just know.

Cat lovers and haters. I know you number in your trillions. Got any hot tips on deterring strange cats (or strange aunties?).

The Press