The World’s Only Floating Sanctuary: The Catboat!

Image Credit: thingstodoinamsterdam.com

When people travel to Amsterdam, it’s usually to visit the Keukenhof Garden in spring, experience the “weed culture”, or to visit the Red Light District. Here’s another reason to visit Amsterdam especially for cat lovers: they have a floating cat sanctuary called the Catboat!


The catboat, or De Pozenboot in its native Dutch, is the only floating animal sanctuary. It is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and is a refuge for stray and abandoned cats. De Pozenboot draws thousands of visitors each year, and it has quickly become a world-famous tourist attraction.

The Founding of the Catboat

In 1966, Henriette Van Weelde found a feline family that was sheltering under a tree opposite her house on Amsterdam’s Herengracht canal. She very kindly took them in. Soon after, she took in more and more stray cats, but she had nowhere to keep them anymore. It occurred to her that if people could live on houseboats, why couldn’t cats? Therefore, in 1968, she purchased a sailing barge, and placed all the cats on it. That was the start of the Catboat.

Image Credit: nationalgeographic.com

Over the Years

The original barge had been replaced and renovated over the years to accommodate the growing number of cats, and most recently, to meet legal requirements of an animal sanctuary. It was iterated as a houseboat in 1979, and the Catboat Foundation became an official nonprofit in 1987. Its most recent renovation on 2001 saw the boat carefully fitted with wooden slats and wire, to prevent cats from jumping overboard. Today, the Catboat hosts around 50 cats, 17 of which are permanent residents that have been on board for years.

Image Credit: nationalgeographic.com

Volunteers & Adopters

Back in 2005, Mrs. Van Weelde passed away at the ripe old age of 90. However, the Catboat had accumulated a number of volunteers over the years, and the volunteers keep the Catboat running smoothly. There are 20 to 25 volunteers, from youngsters in their 20s to the elderly in their 70s. Friendly but fiercely protective of the cats, they communicate with the tourists who visit them. Visiting a particular cat is more complicated than you think; if you want to meet a certain tabby, you must first make an appointment! Prospective owners must then take a day to think the adoption process over before they can continue with the adoption procedure. If an adopter ends up not wanting the cat, Catboat will take the cat back without any hesitation.

Image Credit: nationalgeographic.com

The Catboat depends on donations, and the money is used to pay for new residents to be neutered, spayed and implanted with traceable microchips. If you ever pay a visit, make sure you donate to keep the Catboat afloat! Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam yet?