Amsterdam, the picturesque city known for its canals, windmills, and tulips, has a one-of-a-kind attraction that has captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike – The Cat Boat.
This floating sanctuary for rescued cats is situated on a charming houseboat that gently drifts along the Herengracht canal.
Although it wasn’t initially intended to be a tourist hotspot, The Cat Boat has since gained immense popularity, attracting around 4,500 visitors every year.
The Cat Boat’s Origins
The remarkable journey of The Cat Boat began in 1966 when a compassionate woman named Henriette van Weelde took in a stray cat and her kittens.
As her reputation for kindness spread, people began leaving more cats at her doorstep, and she happily welcomed each one.
Within two years, however, her home was overflowing with feline friends, prompting her to come up with an innovative solution – housing them on an unused houseboat nearby.
A Legitimate Floating Sanctuary
For two decades, this “pirate” ship secretly provided refuge to Amsterdam’s feline population until it finally received an official permit in 1987.
Known as “de Poezenboot” (the Cat Boat), the floating sanctuary continued to serve as a safe haven under Henriette’s care until her passing in 2005.
Today, a dedicated team of staff and local volunteers keep the operation running smoothly.
The Cat Boat’s Residents and Adoption Process
The Cat Boat is home to approximately 50 cats, 14 of which are permanent residents, while the rest are available for adoption.
Upon arrival, each cat is quarantined, neutered, and implanted with a traceable microchip.
This process helps control the feral cat population and ensures that adopted cats remain safe and accounted for.
Adopting a cat from the Cat Boat is a thorough process, as the staff is extremely selective to ensure the perfect match between cat and owner.
Prospective adopters must demonstrate their understanding of the responsibilities that come with caring for a cat, and both parties must sleep on the decision before it’s finalized.
Supporting The Cat Boat
Despite the challenges of finding the ideal home, the cats at The Cat Boat lead happy lives, often gazing at ducks through the fence and enjoying their time on the houseboat.
While visiting The Cat Boat is free, most tourists donate generously upon learning that it receives no government support. Cat enthusiasts worldwide also contribute through online donations, ensuring that this unique floating sanctuary remains a safe and thriving space for Amsterdam’s feline residents.
To learn more about The Cat Boat and its mission, visit depoezenboot.nl. Embark on a memorable adventure in Amsterdam and witness the heartwarming story of a floating sanctuary that offers love and care to its feline inhabitants.