Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cats of Amsterdam

A few years ago a friend rented an apartment in Amsterdam for a week. Charlie and I were among the group of five along for the ride.

We were shown in by a man who looked like he belonged on the New Zealand rugby team rather than the little moped that he arrived on. He ran through the ground rules and reminded us not to leave food out as ‘mice are all over this city’. (I’d already checked out tripadvisor reviews on the apartment and there were numerous cautionary tales from previous guests who’d suspected mice were nibbling at their purchases.)

On the second night the four guys were insisting that a mouse was in the apartment. After returning from a wine tasting session I didn’t care and let them chase the poor, terrified thing around the apartment. It was only when one of them suggested flushing it out from behind a cabinet and stomping on it that I decided to get involved.

I ran to the kitchen grabbing a colander and a fish slice, insisting that capturing it was kinder than death-by-stomping. It must have been a ridiculous sight and they had the attitude of ‘stand in the corner and we’ll take care of it.’ The cabinet was pulled back and the mouse panicked to find a safe place to run. Apparently where I was seemed like the best option.

Without thinking I threw down the colander and, to everyone’s surprise, there was a little brown town mouse doing laps inside. The mouse, who was later named Johan, was put out the window but came back the following night regardless.

A lot of people and establishments have resident cats to stop madness like this.

Whether it’s Café Luxemburg’s grey tabby or the mellow black cat of a coffeeshop you’ll notice them everywhere. I brought my rescue cat over from Ireland and within weeks of arriving I had acquaintances asking if they could borrow her to deal with their mouse problems. I don’t think she’s ever even seen a mouse.

One friend has an apartment on Singel and he swears he hears them ‘dancing’ around his kitchen in the middle of the night. Another Ex-pat told me about a dinner party she held and a mouse climbed onto the table in the middle of the room before starting to sample from the serving bowls.

Mice of Amsterdam are bold and plentiful.

A lot of tourists, particularly North Americans and Brits, find it concerning when there are cats strutting around restaurants and cafes, wandering in and out of the kitchens and joining you if they approve of your meal (every time I order salad niscoise at Café Luxemburg their cat wants to make friends with me). It helps that I’m a cat person but even my mother, who has a cat allergy, finds the situation pleasantly charming.

Plus, I’d rather have a cat meowing because he wants to share some tuna than a mouse who’ll silently nibble a bit of everything.

Photo credits:
Nel (the cute black cat) - © Katie Lips
Ginger and Black cross - ©  Enric Martinez
Pub cat - ©   Jeremy Keith
Molly's kitten - © Helen Olney

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