Cats in the Netherlands: Are there more cats than people in The Netherlands?

It sometimes seems there are more cats than people in the Netherlands, given that on every Dutch street there is a cat mooching around doing some very important cat business and almost every window is adorned with a cozy kitty soaking up the sun napping off all that hard work.

The cat is the pet of choice and holds a special place in the heart of the Dutch. All around the Netherlands there are activities dedicated to cats, including the canal boat turned into a cat shelter that has gained worldwide fame and De Kattenkabinet, one of the stranger Dutch museums dedicated to all things feline.

cats in the Netherlands
An ancient Dutch tradition: the feline prediction of football game results

Another furnomenon that has really taken off is the Kattencafe, a café where you can enjoy your coffee surrounded by cats which are usually re-homed from a shelter. Almost all the major Dutch cities have their very own Kattencafe.

In fact, Groningen has two which were both funded by Crowdfunding projects, showing that the city dwellers themselves felt they really needed more places to enjoy the company of our feline friends.


Dutch cats have very important jobs

What is it about kitties that make them the object of Dutch affection? One theory is that living near canals inevitably leads to problems with pests. A cat can be the best rodent deterrent for any business.

Because they’re also cute, fluffy and incredibly manipulative, before you know it, your pest control has moved in and is eating all your food. It’s believed that cats actually domesticated themselves this same way around 12,000 years ago, so it’s nice that modern cats are carrying on the spirit of their ancestors.

You had one job!

Many cats have risen from these humble beginnings and have made their way to being social media famous. Such as the cat that rode the tram (who unfortunately passed away), and Nemo who hangs around the Vismarkt in Groningen. These famous felines are adored by locals and tourists alike and have become part of the city in which they’ve chosen to gift with their quirky personalities.

Why are cats so popular in the Netherlands?

Perhaps another reason the cat is the pet of choice in the Netherlands is the preference for city living in houses or apartments with no outdoor space.

A cat compliments this lifestyle with their independence and ability to entertain themselves, often in cardboard boxes or with extensive napping. Cats are as low maintenance as the Dutch themselves, making the Dutch and cats a match made in kitty heaven.

So, do cats outnumber the Dutch?

In short, while cats are incredibly popular, the Dutch just have far too big of a population. A 2018 census found there were over 2.6 million cats in the Netherlands – and just four years prior there were 3.6 million. Given there are over 17 million people in the Netherlands, that means there is around one cat for every six-and-a-half Dutch persons. Good thing the Dutch are good at sharing!

Do you have the pleasure of a Dutch cat for company? Let us know in the comments below!

Emily Hine
Emily is originally from the UK. She moved to Groningen over a year ago to study for her Master's degree and is struggling to leave. She is really enjoying learning about and embracing Dutch culture.



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