There have been myriad queries (okay, one or two) about the lamentable cat situation (chronicled here November 23). Pictured at right is an actual Novalis cat at risk of villainous entrapment (did I mention...? ha ha). (Due to a technical glitch, illustration later removed).
One additional cat was trapped, although it actually wasn't one of ours, but rather a stray (we think) we had seen lurking around the neighborhood for a while. My wife pleaded for its release, as it would have faced sure euthanasia at the animal shelter. The neighbors relented, and the stray was pardoned (although I haven't seen it since, so I wonder).
It turns out that the neighbor wife's cat phobia (stemming from a past "bad experience") is the issue, as well as the teenaged son's fear of having a cat scratch up his pristine new car. My first car was a 1975 Dodge Dart--I was more worried about making it across intersections without stalling than about domestic cat defacements. But I did not bring up that "bad experience."
Water guns were proferred and declined. Neighbors agreed to withdraw traps so long as steps are taken to limit feline prowling. As a gesture of good will (and a kind of neighborly placebo), we agreed to erect a privacy fence in the back that will at least keep that neighbor out of sight, out of mind (with pleasure), both for the cats and for us.
I point out that we were actually, without knowing it, offering the neighbor wife free therapy, in the form of graduated exposure, for her cat phobia. In a better world, our friendly felines would gradually have infiltrated their yard, stamping out their rodents and gently marking their territory, and, no catastrophe ensuing, neighbor wife would have been won over to their charms: cure effected. But as usual, psychiatry's efforts go unappreciated.
I tried to think of a proper cat-trapping poem to dignify the occasion; the corpus in that category being limited, I could only choose Rilke's great and terrible "The Panther" (translated by Robert Bly):
From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted
that it no longer holds anything anymore
To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand
bars, and behind the bars, nothing.
The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride
which circles down to the tiniest hub
is like a dance of energy around a point
in which a great will stands stunned and dumb.
Only at times the curtain of the pupil rises
without a sound...then a shape enters,
Slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
reaches the heart, and dies.