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!
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!
Needing to drop off some plastic recycling, which is further away than our regular recycling collection point, we decided to keep walking for a bit after our recycling duties were done. It was early on a Sunday morning with little else to do, after all.
It was a surprisingly nice morning to start, with lots of grey skies broken up by bright bursts of sunlight. With some of the trees still showing off their autumn colors, it really was a beautiful sight. Sadly, I haven’t sorted out my camera issues yet — and oh, the number of shots I would have loved to have taken today! — so I have no new pictures to share. You’ll just have to take my word that Utrecht was being its usual beautiful and quirky self.
As I hadn’t been over to the Domplein in two whole weeks, we decided to head in that direction as we walked up the Nieuwegracht. As we strolled along Achter de Dom, heading toward the cathedral, we noticed a cat following two women a few paces behind. Looking closer, I suddenly realized that I knew that cat! It’s the cat I used to see almost weekly as I would head to the Pandhof to take my gargoyle photos.
Best of all, the cat seemed to recognize us, as well, even from across the street. Spying us, he meowed and immediately crossed the street to come straight up to us, meowing the whole time. Despite knowing from past experience that this cat sets off my allergies, I couldn’t resist a quick pet as he rubbed against my legs.
Then he was off, with a final farewell meow as he went on his way. I hadn’t seen him in months and worried that he’d moved, as the antiques/art shop where he was often spotted had closed, so it was lovely to see him again.
It’s always nice to run into friends and acquaintances when you’re out and about. It helps to feel like you’re a part of a community. That applies equally to cats as to humans. Now excuse me, one of my cats is suggesting that now would be a good time for me to feed her, especially as I’ve been out carousing with other cats.
What happens when you combine Belgian beer, a cat, and a church? You get the Café Olivier, the top-ranked café in the Netherlands, according to the Misset Horeca Café Top 100 listing. The ranking was announced yesterday at a ceremony in Rotterdam, with pride of place going to the Utrecht café located just steps from the Hoog Catharine.
Café Olivier has been open for around seven years (there’s also a location in Leiden) and is known for its extensive selection of Belgian beer, as well as a knowledgeable staff to help you choose. There are seven varieties always available on tap, and another 60 bottled varieties are available through the menu. They also have an appetizing lunch, dinner, and snacks menu, and yes, that includes mussels.
As if the food and drink selection wasn’t enough to grab your interest, the café is housed in an old church. It’s unassuming from the outside, but when you walk inside for the first time, it’s pretty hard not to be left a bit gob-smacked. I had walked past the café plenty of times and had no idea it was a former church. Thus, the first time I went, I was completely stunned when I emerged through the small entrance that blocks drafts and saw the soaring groin vaulting, clerestory windows, and the old organ.
Despite the grandiose setting, it’s surprisingly gezellig, with various prints and pictures hanging on the walls and warm lighting to complement the wood throughout. And yes, there are various cats to be found in and around the café. Guus seems to be the resident kroegtijger, though.
So, great beer and food, fantastic setting, and a cute cat. It’s no wonder Café Olivier came out on top! If you’re looking for things to do in Utrecht, whether you’re just visiting or live here, I do recommend a visit to the best café in the Netherlands. I’ve been known to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of beers on offer, though, so what’s your favourite Belgian beer?
In this photo, Luna is expressing my own feelings toward the heatwave we’ve been having for the past two weeks. I don’t do heat. At all. The least bit of warmth and my head aches and I feel ill. As a result, I’ve been hibernating since it turned warm.
Both cats have been spending plenty of time soaking up the heat, indoors and out. Lots of neighborhood cats have been making an appearance, as well, even if it is a rather lethargic appearance.
There are actually three cats in this photo, the third one in the background. All were in a heat-induced state of bliss, happy that the temperatures had finally warmed after a cool start to the summer.
The cats may be enjoying the heat, but I’m ready for a return to slightly cooler temps, although even I thought wearing a heavy sweater at the end of June was a bit much. A storm came through earlier today, and though it came with a code orange warning and some impressive clouds, it ended up being rather mild, at least here in Utrecht. Fortunately, the worst of the humidity seems to have moved away with it. Small blessings.
While waiting for a friend last Sunday, I came across yet another cat who was making the most of the fine weather. Just lying there in the street — possible in large part because of the attempts to reduce cars in the city center — this multi-colored cat saw me and proceeded to roll, just like the cat the week before.
We saw a number of cats today while we were walking through town, and I managed to get some shots of most of them. The first one here is one that I’ve posted about before. S/he can usually be found in this exact spot and there’s a reason for it. Look closely at the next photo and you can probably figure it out.
I’m not sure if the cat can read and has simply been fooled or if the cover that I felt further down the street that said “warmte” just wasn’t as warm as the two the cat sits on. Regardless, s/he seemed to be smiling.
Lots of shops and restaurants have cats that live there, surely as extra insurance against any unwanted invaders of the furry kind. You will often see the cats hanging out in the front windows, people watching and probably soaking up any heat. I think this next cat was enjoying all the extra heat from the lamp displays. (This just in, a Twitter contact told me the cat is appropriately — for a light shop — called Spot.)
Finally, as distracting as the red shutters may be, if you look closely, you’ll see a cat down by the bicycles.
Admittedly, my two cats aren’t exactly the biggest cats, but this black and white cat was pretty big!
Fans of cats and Utrecht should also check out the book Kat in de Stad.
Also, if you’re an expat in the Netherlands and you brought a pet (of any sort) with you when you moved here, the author of Kat in de Stad and I are interested in getting in touch with you to include you in a book about expats and their pets. Get in touch with either of us if you’d be interested and your pet is still with you.