Stray cats find a home on an Am­s­ter­dam house­boat

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

In the heart of the Dutch cap­i­tal, on a canal near one of the busiest shop­ping streets, a float­ing an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary called The Cat­boat pro­vides refuge for about 50 stray and aban­doned fe­lines. Known in Dutch as De Poezen­boot, the house­boat in Am­s­ter­dam's pic­turesque canal belt has be­come a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion, draw­ing cat lovers from all over the world. The shel­ter has been oper­at­ing since 1968, when Hen­ri­ette van Weelde ac­quired an old Dutch sail­ing barge and con­verted it into a fe­line-friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion.

To­day the boat is run by around 20 vol­un­teers and a few part-time work­ers and draws about 100 vis­i­tors a day. "What I love the most is meet­ing all kind of peo­ple from all over the world," said Ju­dith Go­bets, who man­ages the boat. Cat lover Judy My­ton, 79, of Palm Springs, Cal­i­for­nia, was in town for a week with fam­ily and said vis­it­ing The Cat­boat was one of the top items on her to-do list. Mon­ica and Tom Bui­j­ten­dorp lives in nearby Zaan­dam and find them­selves at The Cat­boat ev­ery time they're in Am­s­ter­dam. Their cat was hit by a car and died a year ago.

"For sev­eral years we have been vis­it­ing The Cat­boat when we are in town, and this time we felt it's the right time to adopt a cat," Mon­ica Bui­j­ten­dorp said. Vis­i­tors can make a do­na­tion to "adopt" a cat; the cat keeps liv­ing on the boat and the adopter gets reg­u­lar up­dates. In some cases, vis­i­tors also take cats home with them. "We are, how­ever, very picky about adop­tions, as we want to find the right match for the cat and the new owner," Go­bets said.

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