How Are Stray Cats Cared for in Amsterdam?

Most cats aren't particularly fond of water, but some strays in Amsterdam are willing to ride the waves in order to have a home.

Since the 1960s, Amsterdam's stray cats have had a home onboard De Poezenboot ("The Catboat").
Since the 1960s, Amsterdam's stray cats have had a home onboard De Poezenboot ("The Catboat").

It all started on a sad note in the mid-1960s, when Henriette van Weelde lost her husband and decided to spend some time traversing Amsterdam's many canals on her sailing barge. But rather than go alone, she modified the interior so that she could take along some of the Dutch capital's many homeless cats.

Over the years, more and more abandoned cats came aboard, and the barge was renovated and replaced several times. In 1987, the venture gained nonprofit status as "The Catboat Foundation." Locally known as De Poezenboot ("The Catboat"), the floating sanctuary is unique, housing approximately 50 cats at any time.

While most of the felines are available for adoption, more than a dozen are permanent residents. Although van Weelde passed away in 2005 at the age of 90, a dedicated group of volunteers continues to ensure that De Poezenboot lives on. Donations are welcome and go towards making sure that every kitty is neutered or spayed, equipped with a microchip, fed, and protected.

The lowdown on stray cats:

  • A single pair of cats and their offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in seven years if they are not neutered/spayed.

  • In the United States alone, only about 2 percent of the approximately 40 million stray or feral cats have been spayed or neutered.

  • Feral cats overproduce to ensure species survival, and some females have three litters every year.

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