Amsterdam cafe forced to remove 20-yr-old cat

Photo: Cafe 't Loosje
Photo: Cafe 't LoosjePhoto: Cafe 't Loosje

An Amsterdammer would not startle when a cat roaming around their legs in a cafe. For many years, cats have been an integral part of the local colour, ridding premisses of pesky vermin and providing comfort to the regulars. However well known Nieuwmarkt spot Cafe Lokaal ‘t Loosje has received word from the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) that their beloved cat Smokey can no longer remain on the premises. Outraged by the order, employee Marie Boudri started an online petition which is receiving considerable community support. Smokey the cat has been part of ‘t Loosje for over twenty years, becoming so much a part of the atmosphere that she is hard to spot when she lurks behind the coffee machine, or stretches out under the large, sun-filled windows. However, two weeks ago the cafe was told by the NVWA that the cat must be removed because her food bowl was left inside the kitchen, violating hygiene policy. In an interview with the NL Times, Boudri says that she started the online petition on Friday so that she could show the NVWA signatures of support from the local community. “Two weeks ago they came in and told us that she has to leave,” she explained. “I was flabbergasted. I thought it was a joke at first because she's Smokey. She has been living here for over twenty years, we’ve never received any complaints, and she has done nothing wrong.” Walking around the Nieuwmarkt square, it is clear that many of the local cafes have cats residing in their business in open view. Amsterdam also pays host to the Cat Cafe, a themed cafe advertising itself as a place where patrons can come and lay with the cats during their lunch hour. “A lot of bars have cats for mice. Would you rather have a cat in the bar, or mice poison in the kitchen?” Marie joked. When asked whether she thought the petition would get this much traction, Marie exclaimed “Never!” “I started this petition just because I wanted some autographs to show the Authority (NWVA) that people love and care about the cat, and that she really belongs here. Now we have over eight thousand signatures! I get calls from radios, television programs and newspapers, and the response has been overwhelming.” Support has reigned in from the local community and businesses, swelling the petition to over 8,000 votes in five days. Marie explains that while she understands the decision, the cafe is Smokey's home and if she is forced to leave, Marie fears she will have to be given away or put down. For now, Smokey remains in the cafe sunning herself on a large coffee table, awaiting to see if the petition will bring any relief.