Charlie is a smart dog. Too smart sometimes. He can open doors with ease, give you a high five, jump through hoops, and much more. But he does have his less than brilliant moments. Such as today. We were walking around the northern part of town, following the ring canal when I stopped to take a photo of this little bit of black cat wall art. I’ve seen this cat pop up in various spots around town, so I thought I’d get a photo of it.
What you see in the photo is the exact moment that Charlie spotted the cat. He’d been looking elsewhere until then. Being a good boy, he didn’t move until I started to walk. At that point he zoomed over to the (fake) cat. Poor thing can’t be blamed, as he does live with two black cats. But it amused me that he was taken in by the shape. It also amused the three girls who were walking past at that moment and saw him go straight for the painted flat cat. I wasn’t the only one laughing. Bless his heart.
My friend who visited last week is a fellow cat lover, so as we were wandering around town, we invariably caught sight of quite a few cats, indoors and out. She spotted this one, who was high up on a wall, surveying his domain.
I also took her to Flora’s Hof, with the express hope of seeing a cat. I was originally thinking of the marmalade cat who is usually spotted in this little garden area, but it was a lovely tuxedo cat who was out that day, enjoying a bit of the winter sun.
Eventually, he got a bit thirsty, so he headed over to the bird bath for a refreshing drink.
He may stalk any birds that come for a bathe and a nice view (and perhaps a few dropped patat), but I wonder if he’s noticed the even larger cat who seems to be stalking him and anyone else in the garden!
Today is what is referred to as rokjesdag (skirt day), due to the fact that the sun is shining and the temperatures have begun to warm up considerably. In other words, lots of skirts are likely to be worn.
However, I think a better word for days like today is katjesdag, because today is the kind of day where you’ll see a preponderance of cats in windows. The whole country becomes like a kitty red-light district with cats on display in almost every window. Our two have been baking themselves silly all morning.
On Sunday, it was a similarly sunny day, as you can see from the photo above. At first, it looks like any charming little street in the sun. Yet as we got closer, we couldn’t help but notice multitude of cats, upstairs and down. The first one to catch my eye was this sneaky fellow who seemed to be testing the waters of a fish bowl.
The next was this black cat who looks just like my lovely Luna.
This next charmer managed to find a spot amid the foliage, like a true jungle cat.
And finally this cat was doing a good job of camouflaging, by picking his own perch among the birds. Though he may have been in too much of a torpor to do more than eye up the birds.
While I was out the other day dodging hail, the weather took a breather long enough for me to notice the window display at the bookstore on the Stadhuisbrug. (Polaris? Selexy & Broese? Something else completely?) Of course, a window display full of cat books would catch my attention. I’m a sucker for cats in windows, whether they’re real or photos. However, I might not have taken a photo of the display if it weren’t for the fact that I had a little moment of pride when I saw this display. It includes the Amsterdam Pub Cats book that I edited!
I woke to horrible news yesterday. A neighborhood icon, Sheriff the cat, had died. Even more tragic, his death came as the result of some vile person kicking him. The animal ambulance came, but there was too much internal bleeding to save him. The psychopath who kicked him has been arrested.
It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without Sheriff. Although he called Café Tilt home, he could be found wandering throughout the immediate neighborhood and among the many bars and terraces. A friendly cat, he seemed to take his name seriously, often walking with us as we returned home, as if making sure we made it safely. Once we were in our house, he would then continue his patrols, vigilant, but often with a friendly meow.
He is one of the stars of a wall mural just off Wittevrouwenstraat behind Café Tilt, along with other icons of Utrecht. The mural is a nice reminder, but it will never make up for losing the real Sheriff. The loss has been felt by many, with outpourings of horror and grief throughout social media. He was such a frequent sight that losing him really does feel like losing one of my own beloved cats. It’s hard to believe we’ll never see his battered ears and beautiful black and white whiskers again.
Cats and boxes go together like peanut butter and jam. In our household, if there’s a box, there’s a cat either in it or on it. That’s pretty normal, as even wild cats, such as lions and tigers, have shown a fondness for boxes. There’s just something about boxes that cats love.
Well, it turns out a couple of veterinary medicine researchers at Utrecht University have been studying this special relationship. Ruth Van Der Leij and Claudia Vinke have found that boxes significantly reduce a cat’s stress levels. In their studies, they looked at the behaviour of cats who were in a two-week quarantine at an animal shelter. Half of the cats were given a box and half were not. Those who had a box were significantly less stressed than their boxless counterparts and the box cats adjusted to their new environment more quickly. They also tended to remain healthier, due to reduced stress levels.
It was a month or so before we got a lot of boxes after we moved here, since the bulk of our boxes came much later. But we did pick up a few items in boxes when we first moved. Luna was appreciative. Lola sulked, while waiting her turn.
As you can imagine, Christmas is a good time for the cats with the arrival of lots of boxes. A little over a year ago, Luna and Lola got a particularly nice box. The perfect size to sit in and survey the surroundings, while still feeling kind of cozy. Add in a little catnip and it’s pure love. Here’s Luna rubbing on the edge, as if saying, “I love you, box!”
Both cats liked it so much, I couldn’t bring myself to toss it. So I gussied it up a bit. I trimmed off the lid and then wrapped it in fabric and cut a fleece liner for it. We still have it, more than a year later. First up is Luna, followed by Lola. Luna does typically sit upright in it, while Lola tends to hunker down.
But don’t even think of getting rid of the box. The wrath of the cats will be rained down upon you!
However, some more catnip sprinkled in would be appreciated.
By the way, I’m up for the “Top 100 International Exchange and Experience Blogs” competition. If you would like to vote for me, click the button below to get to the voting page. Much appreciated if you do! Voting runs through 15 February 2015. Thanks!
Lurking in the shadows — or on a wall, or under a bench, or beneath a grate, or out a window — at Flora’s Hof and the connecting bookstore, you’re bound to come across a fearless ginger cat. I’ve seen this cat grow from kitten to adult, and it’s always doing something crazy or cute. In other words, a classic cat.
A few weeks ago, while taking the Utrecht Free Tour with visiting friends, everyone got to see this charming cat for themselves. Many photos were taken, especially by my fellow cat lovers, as on that day, the orange tabby was relaxing in the shade of the palm tree in the center of the garden. Yes, a palm tree! No wonder it’s one of my favorite spots in town!
So the next time you’re in the little garden area off Servetstraat, next to the Domtoren, keep an eye out for this crazy kitty. She’ll typically pose for photos, but be fast, as she may suddenly change her mind and race off to parts unknown, through her own secret system of tunnels and bolt holes. But beware if she’s hanging out in one of the gratings along the garden path. She’s been known to swipe at hands reaching down irresistibly to pet her. Ouch!
As my visiting friends discovered, Utrecht is full of adorable cats and we were all stopping regularly to admire them. This is one I happened to spot on one of the little side streets off Twijnstraat leading down to the canal. After a good stretch, this pretty kitty looked ready to scale a wall or two.