- Celebrity Pets
Most of the cat sanctuaries in the world do not become tourist attractions. Those that do have something unique about them, such as being located in the ruins in Rome, or the former home of Ernest Hemingway in Florida. In Amsterdam the cat sanctuary that draws in the tourist trade is located on a houseboat in the Western Canal Belt.
The mixture of cats and water seems to be counter-intuitive, but that very juxtaposition is exactly a part of the success of the sanctuary. The cats don't seem to even notice the water, but they are well-protected from any chance of taking an unexpected swim.
The sanctuary was founded back in 1966 by Henriette van Weelde, something of a local legend, who took in a stray mama cat and her kittens she found under a tree across the street from her home. More stray cats joined them as time went on. As space ran short in her home she eventually moved the cats to a houseboat in the canal that she bought just for them.
In 1971 a second houseboat was purchased as the population continued to grow. In 1979 the original houseboat had to be retired and a new houseboat, in a model appropriately called an "ark," was brought in to do the duty of cat shelter. It was outfitted specifically for this duty by a shipyard. The two boats are still moored in their original location on the Singel canal.
In 1987 the status of the sanctuary became official as the Stichting de Poezenboot, or Cat Boat Foundation. The boats were subsequent overhauled to meet all modern shelter requirements.
De Poezenboot is only open to the public for a few hours a day so that the cats do not become stressed by too much going on. The rest of the time they can just chill-out and be cats. This also makes sure that the staff and volunteers have plenty of uninterrupted time to clean up and provide excellent care.Sources: About,com, Yahoo Travel, Poezenboot.nl
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger