Has your winter malaise set in, triggering a serious case of wanderlust? Whether you’re looking for a local escape or planning your dream cat vacation, here’s a list of seven lucky travel destinations where kitties are always on the itinerary!
Key West, Florida
The beautiful island is a cat mecca of sorts, known for its feline-friendly atmosphere and attractions. Stray cats cared for by the island’s inhabitants are known to pop up at restaurants and hotels, and Key West also hosts the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which is home to sixty polydactyl cats. Catman Dominique’s Flying House Cat Show is also a favorite nightly attraction, where trained rescue cats delight onlookers by jumping across stools, walking on a tightrope, and leaping through fiery hoops.
Have a hankering for some cool kitty culture? Tokyo is home to at least 39 cat cafes, where patrons pay a fixed rate to hang out in the company of cute cats, while enjoying a yummy snack. Other popular cat-themed tourist attractions include Sanrio Puroland and Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise, indoor theme parks and shopping areas where you can meet Hello Kitty and all of her friends. While in Japan, you’re also likely to find no shortage of unique cat souvenirs to bring home, particularly in the form of the ubiquitous maneki neko (beckoning cat) sculptures, which are designed to bring good luck to their owners.
Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy
Did you know that just minutes from the great Colosseum, there’s a no-kill cat shelter located among the ruins? Torre Argentina is home to 250 homeless kitties who are cared for by volunteers from other countries. The sanctuary is open every day from noon to 6 p.m., and visitors are welcome to meet the cats, take pictures, browse the gift shop, or adopt one of the cats from a distance to help support the colony.
The Cat Boat (De Poezenboot), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In 1966 Henriette van Weelde found a family of cats living outside her house and decided to take them in. As other strays followed, van Weelde quickly became the town cat lady, with people dropping off cats they could no longer care for. She soon ran out of space, and with more cats coming, decided to purchase a houseboat where she could provide refuge for her rescued kitties. Today, The Cat Boat remains the only floating animal sanctuary in the Netherlands, and a popular tourist attraction thanks to its attractive location in Amsterdam’s picturesque canal belt.
Kattenstoet Parade, Ypres, Belgium
Most of us celebrate cats every day in our own homes, but one European city has turned the practice into a parade and festival, held every third year on the second Sunday of May. The Kattenstoet (Festival of the Cats) parade in Ypres, Belgium, is steeped in tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, but nowadays it celebrates the history and tradition of the cat with floats, music, stiltwalkers, and costumed spectators enjoying the festivities.
The CFA Foundation’s Feline Historical Museum, Alliance, Ohio
The Feline Historical Museum, billed as the largest cat museum in the United States, opened its doors in June in association with the nonprofit Cat Fanciers’ Association Foundation. The one-room museum and library features hundreds of cat books, along with figurines, art, advertising, and more. Rotating exhibits are also a part of the attraction, including “Japanese Welcoming Cats,” which opened in February and and will be on display through the end of October.
Disneyland and California Adventure, Anaheim, California
In 2001 with the help of Best Friends Catnippers and FixNation, Disney began instituting a Trap, Neuter, Return policy to help manage the feral population in their Anaheim theme parks. The cats are caught and fixed before being released back onto the grounds, and kittens are promptly adopted out. Cats that remain in the park receive food and shelter, and in return they work as part of the nightly maintenance crew, keeping the mice of Mickey’s kingdom (except Mickey and Minnie) in check. Since the cats are feral, they avoid human contact and remain mostly hidden during operating hours; however, keen-eyed guests have been known to spot them throughout the park.
About the Author: Stephanie Harwin is the founder of Catsparella.com, an award-winning cat culture blog dedicated to her passion for finding and sharing all of the coolest cat-related content online. Read more about her here.