April 20, 2007
“A houseboat inhabited solely by cats? Something like that exists? I have to go there!” I was first made aware of the existence of De Poezenboot (it translates to Cat Boat) by the Lonely Planet guide to Amsterdam. It described the boat as a unique kind of shelter that allows its denizens to roam freely and even offers low cost medical care to catowners. Best of all, De Poezenboot has visiting hours.
I’m enough of a bleeding heart liberal to love all animals, and I’m a confirmed cat person, so I was very excited at the prospect of visiting a shelter in a foreign country. De Poezenboot more than lived up to my expectations. The main area was bright, sunny space with plenty of toys, huge window ledges, and plush places to nap. And yes, there were probably around 30 cats and none of them were in cages (it is a decent-sized boat).
I was completely amazed by how well all of the cats got along with each other and with humans. Of course, these felines do receive a good number of visitors, so that definitely helped with their socialization. Or maybe it’s just the gentle rocking of the boat on the Amstel river that lulls them into a permanent relaxation mode. I spent two hours petting these cats – and wishing I could take them all home – and talking to some of the staff. It’s wonderful how just one common interest can turn strangers into friends.
If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, go visit the cats in the boat. They’ll be happy to see you.