Even homeless cats in Amsterdam are at home on the water. The city known for its picturesque canals also has the country’s only floating sanctuary for cats. It’s called De Poezenboot, and welcomes visitors. It has become a popular tourist destination and charges no admission, although donations are welcome.
The woman responsible for this unique refuge is Henriette van Weelde. In 1966, she rescued a family of cats sheltering under a tree near her house on Amsterdam’s Herrengracht Canal, according to KittyArmy.com. Henriette took in another stray, then another. She became known as the “cat lady” who rescued strays and accepted cats abandoned by their owners.
Weelde told KittyArmy that the cats filled her home, then her garden and even her roof terrace. Still, they kept coming. That’s when she came up with the idea to buy a houseboat. If people could live on the houseboats that line the canals, why not cats?
Today, tourists like Emma Tabitha enjoy visiting the boat where the cats have a play room and are also let outside under the supervision of the staff, according to KittyArmy. “What this lady does is great!” Tabitha said. “There is a lot of passion involved and its such a nice cause!”
“The place is well maintained and most cats look quite contented there,” another tourist said. “Most cats are free to go around and even outside the boat safely! Don’t expect to hug the cats though, as some don’t like human touch. But all of them look very healthy and adorable!”
In 1987, the Cat Boat Foundation was registered as a charity and depends solely on donations. De Poezenboot has helped hundreds of cats find good homes. De Poezenboot is located at Singel 38.G, 1015 AB Amsterdam.