When you look at this photo, what do you see? Just another house boat along one of Amsterdam’s many canals? Well, this isn’t just any house boat … it’s a actually a floating sanctuary for stray cats.
Look closer and you’ll see that this is De Poezeboot (the Cat Boat), a project started by Henriette van Weelde in 1966 when she took in a family of abandoned cats.
Henriette had such a big heart that she continued to take in more cats until her home until she had no more room. Two years later she figured out solution when she bought a house boat, made it animal friendly and gave her cats a sexy new address on the canal.
Fondly nicknamed the “cat lady” by locals, people from all over Amsterdam started to bring Henriette their cats. She took in all of them, sick ones, strays, even those no longer wanted. So inspired by her love and compassion, people also wanted to visit the sanctuary and best of all, adopt the cats. Even Puss in Boots of Shrek fame visited the boat last November!
The cat boat is open to the public from 1:00 – 3:00 PM daily, except for Wednesdays and Sundays. This gives time for people to check out the set-up, meet the cats and decide whether or not they want to make one of them a member of their family.
After learning about the good work being done here and really because I just wanted to hang out with cats, I went to see the cat boat for myself.
As I was snapping photos, I saw an older woman enthusiastically talking up visitors and telling them about the cats. She then started excitingly wrapping presents and then handing them out to the cats. Yes, really! Almost toothless and sporting a wild mane of grey blue hair, could have this been Henriette herself?
I’m not sure exactly how the cats would manage to open the packages but it’s the thought that counts, right? See this guy with his Christmas gift.
This next photo is my absolute favorite photo as I captured this cutie “mid-lick.” I also like the cat pictures displayed in the background.
In 1987, the Cat Boat Foundation was formerly registered as a charity and now survives solely on donations. Thanks to the kindness of Henriette and her volunteer staff, hundreds of cats have found loving homes and haven’t suffered a tough life on the streets. While admission to the boat is free, I strongly encourage you to throw some cash their way.
In case you were wondering, the cats aren’t imprisoned on the boats. Some of them are let outside for fresh air under careful supervision of staff.
Go to this sanctuary. Make a donation. Pet cute cats. Heck, even adopt one! De Poezenboot can be found at Singel 38.G, 1015 AB Amsterdam.
If you’re really into cats like me, read about my other post about another Amsterdam site for feline lovers which is a museum containing only cat themed art. And if you want even more, read my post about the curious spectacle of cats in the Roman coliseum.