The cat that would make homework (1)

Our cat behaves like a dog, but in an intelligent way. She obeys. Not slavishly, but as a wise child: If your order makes sense she listens.

denzel paspoort foto

If I tell her “Nee, niet op de vensterbank” meaning “No, not on the windowsill”, she turns her head and looks at me interrogatively.
“It’s too dangerous Denzel, we live on the 3rd floor. If you fall, the possibility of surviving is slim to none,” I’ll explain and then, with some help,  she comes down.

When we had just gotten her from the animal shelter (yes, her name was already Denzel. A difficult one for Roman children who tend to call her Denzero or even the heroic sounding Zenzero) my husband – who felt a bit uncomfortable, never having had a pet in his life – immediately started ordering her around: Not on the couch, not in the kitchen, not under my chair, not on the bed.

To my surprise she immediately obeyed.



(Three years later the bed is allowed

denzel on the bed

– she does remember though


Quite surprising for a cat.

It are dogs that have been trained for over thousands of years to respond to orders, haven’t they?


Not cats, right?



When people started settling down and growing crops, around 9,000 years ago, the wild cat Felis silvestris started hanging around their villages, attracted as it was by the mice which, on their turn, were attracted by the stores of grain.  “The cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control”(1) and here the domestication of the cat began.

An initiative taken by the cats who, let’s be honest, domesticated themselves – no need for any human intervention, let alone command.


Felis silvestris, by Luc Viatour

Who knows what had happened to Denzel before we adopted her? Nothing bad, since she isn’t at all afraid of us or any other human beings. On the contrary, she is extremely social and addicted to attention.

Every morning she waits obedient at the side of my bed for my alarm clock to go off, the moment the beeping starts she starts meowing until we stroke (or “choke” as my husband would say affectionately in the beginning) her.

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Every afternoon she waits behind the front door and expresses her happiness about our return, meowing enthusiastically and emitting another type of sound that most resembles the sound of a rusty mechanic duck (she has a certain age).


Everybody else (friends and strangers alike) is treated in exactly the same welcoming way.

 A very particular cat indeed.

And not only is she good humored, social and obedient, she is also interested. If I am, let’s say, unpacking the groceries or cooking diner, who is watching me highly interested on top of a kitchen chair? 

I have often mumbled to myself: An ideal cat.


If she could make homework, she would

denzel looking at homework

without a growl.

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(1) A brief history of house cats,

running man 40 30

Image credits

(1-3) Beyond the Frontier, CC-BY-2.0
(4) Winston the paper retriever, cartese [CC-BY-SA-2.0], url
(5) ceridwen [CC-BY-SA-2.0], url
(6) Felis silvestris silvestris, by Luc Viatour  [CC-BY-SA-3.0], url
(7) Beyond the Frontier, CC-BY-2.0
(7) [Public domain], url
(8) [Public domain], url
(9) Beyond the Frontier, CC-BY-2.0

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