So, we have some great news: We have a new furry creature at home!  Last month, we adopted an adorable kitten from a Dutch cat shelter.  Compared to the United States, it was significantly different, so I figured that I’d quickly post about what it’s like to adopt a cat in the Netherlands. 

Why we decided to get another cat

Beautiful Norwegian Forest cat adopted from the United states.  Read about expat cats!

I actually adopted Lu, a beautiful cat that looks like a miniature Norwegian Forest, in the United States.  She has a very interesting life so far, including moving from the US to the Netherlands, briefly living in France, Belgium, and Romania, and moving back from France to the Netherlands.  She’s truly a European cat as her passport states. 

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Surprisingly, she’s been easy about the moves and settles in quickly to all of our apartments so far.  She’s been a shy cat, however she’s blossomed over the past few years as she has become more affectionate with us.  I always worried that she was bored sitting around the house with us. (She stays indoors rather than going out, which is atypical for the Netherlands.)

However, we’ve had a thought in the back of our mind: What about getting her a friend!?  Our own instability, another post for another day, has made us wonder when we would be settled enough to get another cat. It’s been almost a year since we left France and moved back to the Netherlands.  Things are finally feeling in order.  We’re finally feeling settled in terms of friends, home, and work.   Of course, we had to throw off the balance by adding a new kitty to the mix.

Process of adopting a cat in the Netherlands

Adorable three month old kitten adopted from an animal shelter in the Netherlands.

I believe in adopting, rather than shopping.  In the Netherlands, especially on rural farms, it’s pretty common for people to have barn cats.  Often, these cats are not always spayed/neutered and a few of my friends have gotten their cats from local farms/family friends who were looking for homes for the cats.  In kitten season, this is common.  We considered this route, but in the end, we didn’t know any farmers and I felt more comfortable going to an animal shelter in the Netherlands.

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In the United States, shelters are quite strict about people taking cats home.  Maybe because this is the Netherlands, things aren’t so strict.  We ended up visiting two different cat shelters near us and generally as long as you fill out the forms that they request, you can bring home your cat the same day.  This shocked me!

Shelters will try to gauge your degree of knowledge regarding animals as well as learn about other animals in the house (age, gender, whether they’re spayed).  Most cats are tested in regard to how well they get along with other cats, dogs, and small children.  (Many also try to see if the cat will be a mouse hunter!)   We were also asked about our jobs as many shelters are apprehensive about giving kittens to people who work full-time as they require extra time.

All of the shelters also asked about the status of whether we’d let the cat out and whether our balcony was covered.  (One shelter that I contacted told us that they would check to see if our balcony was 100% enclosed prior to allowing our application to go forward.)

A four month old kitten adopted from a Dutch animal shelter!

We went on a Wednesday afternoon at the largest cat shelter in the Hague, however ALL of the kittens that we had gone to look at were adopted by the time that we got there about two hours after they opened.  Even in terms of the other cats available, there were two left that did not along with other cats.   

Although there are certainly stray cats in the Netherlands, I’m always struck by how many cats are house cats that simply roam the streets during the night rather than strays.  I also felt that the shelters felt surprisingly empty compared to the overcrowded shelters that I’m used to in the United States.

We ended up going to a smaller local shelter after checking their website and calling to see if they had any cats at the moment who were younger and got along well with other cats.  We were told about a kitten that was three months…and we promptly headed over to see the kitten! After washing our hands and heading into the room, we fell in love with the kitten and about ten minutes later (not kidding!), we adopted him.

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Things you’ll need to adopt a cat in the Netherlands

Adorable Dutch kitten adopted from a cat shelter in the Netherlands.

You need to show proof that you live in the Netherlands.  We had to show both our work permits as well as our passports. Most shelters have a fee that covers the adoption that is typically around 125 euros (or more).  We also had to sign a contract promising that we would take care of the cat, neuter/spay the cat, and agree to a home visit at some point in the future.   Most importantly, you need a cat carrier to bring your new kitty home with you.  You’ll also need a second room and a second litter box if you have another cat.

In return for these things, you’ll get the pet passport and you might be required to neuter or spay the cat at a later time.  We’ll need to neuter our kitten in about a month, however it’s very reasonable here in the Netherlands (80-100 euros).

One important note: You need to make sure that you’re allowed to have a pet in your apartment.  Although many Dutch housing contracts do not say anything about pets, many “expat apartments” specify it.  Even for our first apartment in Amsterdam, our landlord initially said no cats, but quickly changed his opinion to say that cats did not count when we said that we had a well-behaved indoor cat. (The shelter didn’t ask about this, but it’s an important 

The initial period of introducing the two cats and do the cats get along!?

Say hello to our little orange rascal! Having a second bedroom was really key in the initial introduction period.  Although Lu has been around other cats and generally gets along with them, cats need a period to get used to each other. Ours lasted about three weeks.

Cat peering into door during the initial adjustment period!

At first, there was a lot of hissing as we let Lu smell him through the sliding door.  Eventually (1-2 weeks), they seemed okay enough that we let them interact with each other while supervised.  It went mostly okay besides at feeding times, when we followed Jackson Galaxy’s great advice of having a joint feeding time.  (The kitten tried to steal Lu’s food!)  

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Finally after three weeks, Lu accepted the kitten happily almost as her own kitten.  She constantly grooms him and he’s always following her around the house.  Although Lu’s behavior towards us changed a bit as she has become less affectionate and needy, but I generally feel that she’s happier and more fulfilled as she constantly is playing with him between naps.  They don’t sleep together yet, but I’m hopeful that this will happen in the future. 

Two adorable rescue cats playing.  One cat was adopted in the Netherlands and one was adopted in the United States!

It’s striking to me how different the kitten’s behavior is compared to Lu’s.  This is my first time having a kitten and it’s so wonderful watching him grow up.  Overall, I am so glad that I adopted a second cat.  It seems fitting that we have one from each of our home countries. 

Have you adopted a cat abroad?