March 28, 2023

People often get confused between a cat shelter and a cat sanctuary. The names sound similar and most people simply assume they do the same type of work.

Although both have the same purpose, which is to help homeless or rescued cats, they actually operate very differently.

cat shelter

A cat shelter is only a temporary solution for homeless or rescued cats. Their aim is to provide temporary home and help for cats and re-home the animals as soon as possible.

Compared to shelters, cat sanctuaries tend to be a more permanent solution for cats. Cat sanctuaries are facilities where cats are brought to live and to be protected for the rest of their lives.

Cat sanctuaries usually offer cats adequate space, playgrounds, care, food, medicine, and love so that they can live in comfort for the rest of their lives.

cat sanctuary

They are rarely funded by governments and are almost always dependent on generous donations, sponsorships of animals, and volunteer work from the general public or corporations.

The responsibility of all cat sanctuaries is to ensure that cats are given appropriate care until their natural death.

However, not all cat sanctuaries are the same. Fortunate homeless and unwanted cats end up in unique sanctuaries staffed by professional, caring people who give their best to provide the cats all the care and attention they deserve.

Here are some of the world’s most unique cat sanctuaries any cat would enjoy living in:

The Catboat


De Poezenboot, which is Dutch for “The Catboat,” is the world’s one and only floating cat sanctuary.

Founded back in 1968 by passionate cat lover Henriette van Weelde, the floating sanctuary on the Singel canal in Amsterdam is home to over 50 cats, many of which can be adopted.

Henriette van Weelde founded the Catboat after she had run out of room at home for all of the cats she cared for.

The Catboat has a spacious play area, cages for sleeping and an outdoor deck from where the cats can watch the canal life unfold.

catboat view

Thanks to social media, the Catboat has become a very popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam and very often queues of tourists can be seen outside, waiting for their turn to board the boat and explore this amazing sanctuary.

The Catboat is open to visitors, but only for a few hours each day. The main focus of the sanctuary remains the same as it was decades ago: to care for cats and help to find loving homes for them.

Here is a video tour of the sanctuary:

The Cat House on the Kings

cat house

The Cat House on the Kings is California’s largest no-cage, no-kill, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. The “no cages and no kill policy” means a peaceful and happy life for the cats.

The sanctuary was founded in 1992 by Lynea Lattanzio who dedicated her whole life to rescuing and helping cats. To this day, the Cat House on the Kings has saved almost 20,000 cats.

cathouse owner

The Cat House on the Kings spreads across12 acres of land. The cats have plenty of space to wander around and play.

The sanctuary employs 50 cat loving staff and a lot of volunteers who are giving their best to make the Cat House on the Kings one of the best cat sanctuaries in the USA.

You can watch this video to find out more about this amazing sanctuary:

The Odd Cat Sanctuary

odd cats sanctuary

The Odd Cat sanctuary was founded by Tara Kawczynski in 2015. It is located in Salem, Massachusetts.

Tara’s aim was to provide a safe place for cats where they would receive all the care and attention they deserve. They currently host a large variety of felines of all breeds, ages, and colors.


All the cats in the Odd Cat are provided with a home-like environment until they are adopted into loving families.

The sanctuary is mostly volunteer driven, and relies on donations, contributions, and fund raising to fulfill its mission.

Tabby’s Place

tabby's place

Tabby’s Place is a cage-free sanctuary located in Ringoes, New Jersey, United States. The sanctuary was founded in 2003 by Jonathan Rosenberg and his wife Sharon.

In April, 1999 Jonathan and Sharon found that their beloved cat, Tabby, had untreatable cancer and had only months to live. After their beloved cat died, the couple committed themselves to opening Tabby’s Place, in memory of their pet.

tabby cat

Tabby’s place provides refuge to cats regardless of their age, medical issues, or temperament. It houses approximately 100 cats, which mostly come from too crowded animal shelters.

Here is a short video about Tabby’s place:

Lanai Cat Sanctuary

lanai sanctuary

The Lanai Cat sanctuary was founded in 2004 by Kathy Carroll. Kathy is a passionate cat lover also known as “the cat lady.”

The sanctuary is located in Lanai, the smallest inhabited island travelers can visit in Hawaii. It covers over 25,000 square feet, providing the cats with a lot of places for playing and exploring.

The Lanai Cat is open to the public for a few hours every day. It has also become a tourist destination in its own right.

The visitors can adopt or foster if they fall in love with a cat, and the sanctuary helps to facilitate adoptions.

cat adoption

Those who fall in love with a cat but think that taking one to a home to the mainland is a bit too complicated can “adopt in place.” This means that visitors can pay for the upkeep of the cat right there at the sanctuary.

Here is a great video about this unique cat paradise:


Those are some of the world’s most unique cat sanctuaries where cats can live in comfort for the rest of their lives.

Did we miss some? We probably did – there are so many other amazing and unique cat sanctuaries out there that deserve more recognition.

Please let us know about any unique cat sanctuary that we missed in the comments below.

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