Nothing is more Dutch than a houseboat on a canal. You’ll find hundreds of them throughout the canal rings in the center of Amsterdam. But not all of them are houses for people. One boat on the famous Singel canal is a dedicated sanctuary for stray and abandoned cats, aptly named De Poezenboot, or The Cat Boat.
In need of some therapeutic time with some fuzzy animals? You can visit the Cat Boat for free between 13 and 15h! Although, a small donation is always appreciated for this heartfelt cause. Inside the boat, about 50 cats live happily where they are cared for by volunteers until they are adopted into loving families. In fact, two Poezenboot cats were adopted by our very own staff member, Franca!
Franca’s cats, Mister (left) and Toulitoush (right), were originally named Chip and Dale when they lived on the Poezenboot.
But how did this ordinary house boat become a kitten-haven? The story goes all the way back to 1966, when Henriette van Weelde, the “cat lady”, found a family of stray cats and took care of them in her home in Herengracht, part of the old center of Amsterdam. She took in more and more cats until they no longer fit in her house, and she had to purchase them a separate domicile. Who said cats are afraid of water? They seemed to fare just fine on a house boat!
And so it began. The cats continued to pile in, and so did the people willing to adopt them. Over time it gained accreditation as a legal non-profit animal shelter, and the sides were reinforced to ensure the cats cannot fall into the water. Now the boat is so much more than just a place for cats. It’s a unique feature of Amsterdam, and in fact, it’s the only floating animal sanctuary in the world. People come from all walks of life to see the kitties playing, sleeping, and just enjoying life in this historic monument.
For more information, check out the Poezenboot website: https://depoezenboot.nl/en