One of the first cat-themed locations I visited while traveling was De Poezenboot (meaning “the cat boat” in Dutch). It’s a few years now since I was there but this unique floating animal sanctuary is still going strong. It’s no surprise given its long history. De Poezenboot was started in 1966 by a woman called Henriette van Weelde. She had previously taken stray cats into her home but it quickly became overrun. She was a stereotypical cat lady! A woman after my own heart. To solve this problem, she acquired an old Dutch sailing barge and converted it into a home for sick, stray and abandoned cats.
Today De Poezenboot accommodates up to 50 cats. Most of these are temporary, however 14 live on the boat permanently. Visitors come to the cat boat to find a new pet, although tourists are also welcome. Once you spend a little time with the cats you will be happy to open your wallet and leave a generous donation. “The Cat Boat Foundation” achieved official charity status in 1987. It is run by volunteers who help rescue strays and cats who’s owners cannot afford veterinary care. The cats are sterilized, vaccinated and micro-chipped before they are put up for adoption.
When I visited, it was a sunny day and the cats were happily sitting in the windows of the barge looking out onto the water. It’s very clean and the cats all look well-cared for. However, this isn’t a cat cafe. As would be expected given their origins, not all of the cats are friendly. Proceed with caution and only initiate petting if a staff member gives you the go-ahead.
If you are a cat lover in Amsterdam, I highly recommend visiting this unique spot. It is located right in the center of the city, only a ten minute walk from the main station.