Whether you’re an art lover or a cat lover, you’ll find that your interests collide in the capital city of The Netherlands
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Just around the corner and across the canal from our hotel, we saw it: De Poezenboot. While the name looks as if it might be a riff on Puss in Boots, it’s actually the name of a unique shelter for cats -- the Cat Boat.
While Amsterdam doesn’t have a large population of free-roaming cats -- at least not in the center of the city -- there are always some cats who need a temporary or permanent home. The Poezenboot (pronounced POOH-sen boat) was founded for them 54 years ago by cat lover Henriette van Weelde, who found herself caring for more cats than her home could comfortably hold. Her solution was to buy a barge where they could live safely and comfortably.
Today, the Poezenboot can house up to 50 cats, although at the time of our visit a few weeks ago, there were about 25. Some, like Beyaz, a blind white cat who was making the most of a lap provided by a visitor from Alabama, have a home for life, but others are available for adoption. Cats coming in make a two-week stay in a quarantine room before being integrated into the larger cat area, which is amply stocked with cat toys, beds and other feline paraphernalia.
A fleet of volunteers cares for the cats, who have the run of a large room, including a door to the outside, also fitted out with beds and ledges for sunbathing cats. A high fence ensures that they don’t take an accidental dip in the canal.
The Poezenboot welcomes visitors three days a week who must make an appointment online and use hand sanitizer before entering the cat room. Entry is free, but the Poezenboot is supported entirely by donations, so don’t forget to drop some euros in the contribution box as you leave. And if you yearn to bring a cat home but can’t, you can choose one to sponsor instead. See the website -- depoezenboot.nl/en -- to make a reservation or donation.
Art lovers can get their cat fix in an unusual way: a visit to the Kattenkabinet, a museum devoted to the feline persuasion (kattenkabinet.nl/en). Located in a grand old home on the Herengracht, the canal where 17th-century movers and shakers built their abodes, the museum was founded in 1990 by Bob Meijer in memory of his cat John Pierpont Morgan. Meijer and his family still live above the museum.
The Kattenkabinet contains paintings, posters, photographs, lithographs, drawings, sculptures and more of, yes, cats. Among the artists whose works are represented are art nouveau painter Theophile Steinlen; Henriette Ronner-Knip, a 19th-century portrait artist who specialized in cats, dogs and landscapes; early impressionist Edouard Manet; cubism pioneer Pablo Picasso; and Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt van Rijn. Morgan himself can be seen in some of the more modern works, such as Dutch painter and cartoonist Aart Clerkx’s depiction of him on a $1 bill, with the motto “We Trust No Dog.”
As befits a museum devoted to them, several cats wander the five rooms of the floor where the art is displayed, rubbing up against a corner or sprawling on a sunlit chair or table, awaiting the attentions of visitors.
Visitors to two of Amsterdam’s art heavyweights -- the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum -- can also see depictions of cats in art. Cats in paintings represent themes ranging from deceit to danger to domesticity. Some works featuring cats to look for at these museums include Gabriel Metsu’s “The Cat’s Breakfast” and Henriette Ronner’s “The Cat at Play” (Rijksmuseum) and Vincent van Gogh’s sketch “Hand with Bowl and a Cat” at the Van Gogh Museum.
Buy bird from
Q: I’m ready to buy a pet bird. What should I look for in a pet store?
A: It’s always a good idea to make sure sellers are knowledgeable and ethical. Here’s what to consider.
Employees at pet or specialty bird stores should be well-informed about the species they sell, able to tell you the care, personality and health differences between, say, a yellow-naped Amazon and an African grey.
Store employees should know about proper nutrition, cage size, toys and other paraphernalia birds need. Run from retailers or breeders who promote an all-seed diet for birds; they’re not up on the latest avian nutritional knowledge.
Avoid purchasing from stores where employees proffer medical advice and promote over-the-counter products instead of advising you to take a sick bird to a qualified avian specialist.
Welcome staff who ask you about your personality, your home environment and what you’re looking for in a bird so they can help match you with the perfect parrot or other feathered friend. Don’t think of their questions as an intrusion, but as their concern for ensuring that you and your bird will suit each other and become best friends.
Look for a store that is clean, bright and odor-free. There’s nothing wrong with temporary untidiness -- it takes a lot of work to clean up after birds! -- but be concerned if you see evidence of long-term unsanitary practices, such as a deep pile of feces beneath perches.
Good stores carry a variety of appropriate cages, playpens, toys, perches, formulated diets, and reference books and magazines. They offer grooming and boarding services in an area separate from birds for sale, reducing the risk of exposure to disease for their own birds and client birds.
Go with the retailer who shows evidence of current knowledge and a willingness to share information. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
-- The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association, is directing a $100,000 donation from Merck Animal Health -- plus its own $100,000 match -- to support veterinary and animal welfare groups providing relief to Ukrainian refugees and their pets. Donations will be used to provide food, medical care, disaster relief and emergency support. People who wish to support these efforts can do so through AVMF at avmf.org/donate.
-- When people go to the emergency room, it’s usually because they are in pain. Therapy dogs to the rescue! A study published earlier this month in the journal PLOS One by University of Saskatchewan researchers found that visits from therapy dogs bring more than smiles. In the controlled study, which had more than 200 participants, patients at an emergency room were asked to rate their pain levels before and after a visit from a therapy dog team. Patients who received a 10-minute visit from a therapy dog team experienced significant improvements in pain, anxiety, depression and well-being, compared to those in the control group, who did not interact with therapy dogs.
-- People who are immunocompromised can have concerns about keeping pets, but taking precautions can help them stay safe. North Carolina veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD, makes the following suggestions for cat lovers: Keep cats indoors to prevent exposure to animals that could carry disease and parasites; deworm cats monthly, and have their veterinarian conduct fecal testing twice yearly to reduce risk of exposure to intestinal parasites; have another family member scoop the litter box, or wear gloves and a mask and wash hands afterward; keep cats on a flea preventive year-round; keep cat claws trimmed; immediately wash any scratches with soap and water and call your physician for advice; and wash hands after handling cats and before meals. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker is founder of the Fear Free organization, co-founder of VetScoop.com and author of many best-selling pet care books. Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has been writing about animals since 1985. Mikkel Becker is a behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/Kim.CampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.