I saw nothing (2)

Only recently I discovered Denzel disposes over another quality – how many qualities can a cat have?

She is vigilant.

Denzel vigilant

Always keeping an eye on everything that is going on. Even while she is resting, i.e. most of the day, you can see her ears turn around like the periscope of a submarine, picking up every noise.


The more alarming the sound, the more she is inclined to take action – descend swiftly from the couch and run – never though wasting any energy for free.

If for example a little clumsy child is entering our apartment on little rattling shoes – one of the sort that will chase a cat tireless through the whole house to hit it on the back or head cause it wants to “caress” – you can see her lift her head and point her ears to think better.

Only after she has evaluated the situation extensively – stay or run? – and the child is approaching at a rapid speed with an extended arm and a tender smile on its face, she takes a decision.


For some type of uproar she will get up immediately, almost instinctively. Like the noise of metal on metal, e.g. the opening of a can, or the noise of a slamming door, let’s say the door of the fridge.

A screaming street cat and she goes straight to the balcony to check – just in case the wild beast managed to mount a three floors high, straight, outer wall.

street cat

a Roman street cat

Less unlikely than you might think – at least for humans – since a couple of weeks ago some burglars managed to break into our apartment through the balcony.

Once they were done, they had blocked the front door, so we could not get in. Two policemen tried for hours to open it with everything we and a neighbor had at our disposal: a credit & supermarket card, a screwdriver and a chest X-ray of our neighbor’s lungs which according to one of the policeman was usually highly efficient (the policemen themselves were poorly equipped with nothing more than a cell phone and a package of cigarettes).

Nothing worked.


This is some of the equipment of the notorious burglar Jacob Frederik Muller (1690(?)–1718)

During all this time me and my daughter were worried sick about Denzel. “He (that is what happens when you give a male name to a female) is too nice”, my daughter sobbed, “he will have gone straight to the burglars to greet them and they will have thrown him out of the window (cause burglars are obviously in their entirety bad guys).

I feared the same, so while the policemen took one of their breaks to smoke a cigarette or call their wives, I called through the keyhole: “Denzeltje!” (the diminutive of Denzel in Dutch), but not a sound – a frightening sign.

Eventually the police duo gave up and called the fire department.


A real red fire engine with ladder showed up in our street and seven firemen marched straight up the stairs and opened the door as if it was their home and burglars did not exist. We stormed inside.

Denzel lay on the carpet in the sun.

She looked at us and her eyes said: “Non ho visto nulla”, meaning “I saw nothing”.

denzel op tapijt in zon

A fireman tapped her on the head and she ignored him. I did the same and she couldn’t care less. My daughter caressed her and she waddled phlegmatically towards the kitchen – it was diner time.

All very unlike her. So I picked her up and turned her around, but she looked quite all right.

Then the penny dropped.

Vigilant as she was, she must have heard them coming, must have understood she had only one option:  To behave, for once,  like a cat.

That is: act indifferently.

For safety reasons she was now continuing this cat behavior.

Suddenly I felt very safe. I  just knew Zenzero had everything under control.

2014-07-11 17.22.21

On guard

running man 40 30


(1) A brief history of house cats, Smithsonian.com

running man 40 30

Image credits

(1) Beyond the Frontier, CC-BY-2.0
(2) By Andy Dingley (scanner) [Public domain], url
(3) Lorenz Frølich [Public domain], url
(4) Yellow [CC-BY-2.0], url
(5) Maarten Jansen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], url
(6) William J. Carpenter [Public domain], url
(7-8) Beyond the Frontier, CC-BY-2.0

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