Guest contributor: Annie Cooper
Amsterdam is one of my favorite European cities for many reasons. The cafe culture, the beautiful architecture, stroopwafels, poffertjes and Dutch cheese (not all together!), the list goes on and on. Each time I return I discover something else amazing.
As a cat lover, I’m always delighted to encounter local felines when visiting a new city. To my delight, I found cats everywhere in Amsterdam. Lisa has kindly allowed me to share some of my best experiences as a cat lover in the capital city of the Netherlands.
One of my favorite things to do in the city center is to walk around the streets of the inner ring (Centrum). You can also do as the locals and take a bike. If you look at a map of Amsterdam, you’ll see that it’s made up of a semi-circle of concentric streets and canals with an inlet of the North Sea to the east.
The inner rings contain most of the popular tourist attractions - the flower market, Anne Frank’s house, the National Opera and Ballet theatre…Not only is this area very scenic with streets full of the characteristic narrow Dutch houses, but it’s also home to a lot of cats and cat-themed businesses.
Cats & Things was the first shop I stopped at. It’s more than just a pet store. In addition to practical items like cat beds, scratchers and toys, there are plenty of cute trinkets for us pet owners too. I managed to haul home a rather large porcelain ornament of a lovey-dovey cat couple. Surprisingly, it survived the flight back in one piece! You can also find mugs, cushions, artwork and other home decor items here. I didn’t see them on the day but three cats apparently live in this shop too.
Nearby was Quattro Gatti (four cats), an Italian restaurant with a chubby orange cat as its mascot. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to try it that day but from the reviews, it seems to be a nice dinner spot.
Next on our list was Kattenkabinet, a gallery showcasing art with cats as the subject matter. The Kattenkabinet is housed in a traditional Dutch building which dates back to 1667. It’s been restored to its original state and could be a tourist attraction on its own merit. Apparently some cats also live in this gallery but they were hiding out of sight on the day I was there.
As an art lover as well as a cat lover, this place kept me amused for quite a while! I nearly left with a package of 50 posters for €100 from the gift shop but realized that I wouldn’t have enough wall space in my home to display them all.
Houseboats are a common sight in Amsterdam Centrum but one in particular is very special. I’m talking about De Poezenboot, aka the cat boat. It is as the name implies, a boat full of cats. To be more precise, it’s a floating cat sanctuary.
De Poezenboot is a registered charity, housing up to 50 cats at a time. Volunteers help rescue strays and cats whose owners cannot afford veterinary treatment. They take care of sterilization, vaccination and micro-chipping before the cats are put up for adoption.
Visitors are welcome to hang out on the cat boat in return for a small donation. Despite the large number of feline residents, it’s kept very clean. All of the cats looked happy and healthy.
Staff were friendly and told us which cats were okay to pet. Since it’s essentially a shelter, not a cat cafe, not all of the cats are comfortable with human interaction. There were plenty of hiding spots for those kitties while their more boisterous companions threw themselves in front of us for belly rubs!
There are also a few restaurants with cat-related names, as well as a full on cat cafe. Even some regular cafes I stopped at had a cat or two living inside. I’m not sure if they belonged to the owners or were just cheekily stopping by for a drink and a rest. It was a pleasant surprise either way.
European restaurant Hofje van Wijs served a tea called Poezenpootjes - Cat’s Paw tea. Another bar had a bed in the window where a black cat was sleeping the day away. Someone had kindly provided a glass of water for the exhausted creature.
Even souvenir shops were not safe from the sleepy kitty invasion! I saw a tabby curled up in a basket amongst some painted clog keychains. Nobody paid him any attention. It seems like this sort of thing is a regular occurrence in Amsterdam.
Overall, I highly recommend Amsterdam as a destination for cat lovers. I haven’t had a chance to check out the cat cafe yet but it will be my first stop next time I visit. Do you know of any other cities with lots of cat-themed attractions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
About the author: Annie Cooper blogs at catobsessed.com. She lives in Australia with her husband and two very fluffy felines. Apart from cats, Anne loves traveling, DIYing and all things cute.