There are so many reasons to visit Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. But there is a hidden attraction not like any other. It is home to the world’s one and only floating cat sanctuary. De Poezenboot literally translates to “The Cat Boat,” and it was founded in 1968 by cat lover Henriette van Weelde. It is home to around 50 cats, with 14 of them being permanent residents. This attraction is for anyone who would like to adopt a cat, but since the coronavirus pandemic, the cat boat remains closed to the public, but you can still call and arrange for a future meeting for adoption.
Since 1966, Heriette has taken stray cats in. It all started when she found a family of cats sheltering under a tree next to her house. Soon, another feline joined, and so on. She soon became known as the “cat lady,” and people started bringing her cats they could no longer care for. With so many cats, she was running out of space in her home. That’s when the idea of a floating cat sanctuary came to mind. Her house was facing a canal, and in 1968, she purchased a Dutch sailing barge, and customized it for her feline family. But the original barge Heriette bought was getting filled up within three years. So she bought a second one in 1971, and the rest is history as they say. People started just dropping cats off at the boat, but soon enough, more people visited the sanctuary to adopt a feline and take them home. “Nobody back in 1966 could have dreamed that one mother cat and her kittens would begin what was now the world’s most famous cat sanctuary,” the official website reads.
What started as a home for stray and abandoned kitties soon grew into an official charity. June 3 of 1987 saw the Cat Boat registered as an official charity, and a Cat Boat Foundation was established. Unfortunately in 2006, one of the cat boats had to be towed away by city officials. So volunteers had to work with half the space, but they did not give up. The cats are cared for by about 25 volunteers, and the boat is open to the public for visiting a few hours a day. It remains to be a sanctuary to care for cats and help them find suitable homes, not just be a tourist attraction. While the adoption process may be tedious, it is to make sure the adopted cats will really be cared for. That is after all what Henriette had in mind. Well for now due to the pandemic, visitors may be welcome back starting June. For those looking to adopt a cat, you can make calls and start the ball rolling. Before you know it, a furry ball of fun may be rolling into your home.