For the cat lover who also loves to travel, a number of interesting and unexpected destinations provide furry love as well as cultural understanding.
Japan’s Cat Island
Cats outnumber humans five to one on Aoshima Island in the Ehime prefecture in northwestern Japan. Once a thriving fishing village, the population of Aoshima has declined to just 15 permanent residents. But the cat population continues to thrive, thanks in large part to the belief here that feeding stray cats brings wealth to the family.
While Aoshima is perhaps the best known, Japan actually has about a dozen islands identified as “cat islands.”
King of Cats Festival
The French painter Balthus was fascinated by the image and movement of cats, often incorporating them into his work. He called himself “the king of cats.” When he died at his home in Rossiniére, Switzerland, the community honored his creativity with a biennial King of Cats Festival.
But this isn’t your typical corn dog and funnel cake-filled festival. This is a summer-long community art project that encourages each business and household in Rossiniére to create some piece of art that represents a cat. The public gets to vote on their favorite and the winner gets bragging rights.
The Cat Boat
A fabulous opportunity to scoop kitty litter during your vacation is at depoezenboot, which means “the Cat Boat.” Actually, it’s two barges floating on Amsterdam’s Singel Canal that have been retrofitted as animal shelters. It’s a beautiful setting, but lots of volunteers are needed to help keep it from getting too stinky inside because, you know, 50 cats produce a lot of pheromones. Yet, you can’t beat the view and the reward of a having a grateful kitten napping in your lap at the end of the day.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
With about 1,600 animals, the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the largest animal rescue facility in the country. Many vacationing volunteers stay in one of 12 on-site cabins and cottages. It’s OK to take a kitten or two to your room for a little overnight snuggling. Area hotels allow you to bring Best Friends cats to your hotel as well.
Laughing Cat Winery
The official name is Carlson Vineyards, but most people know the Palisades, Colorado vineyard as the Laughing Cat Winery because of the playful cat juggling mice on the labels. The Laughing Cat series includes semi-sweet wines like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and a few blends. Hank and Gunny, the current feline residents, greet each guest with a handshake. Take that any dog that ever called a winery home.
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