Dutch Donderdag – Of Mice (& Cats) & Men

They say in the UK you are no more than 6 feet away from a rat at any one time, especially in the big cities where rats can outnumber the human inhabitants. Apparently the same can be said for mice in Amsterdam & it’s something I can attest to. Last week, after I had left a restaurant, I happened to glance in the window of a neighbouring café… only to see a little brown mouse staring back at me. As I went in for a closer look it got spooked & dived down the radiator shelf it had been sitting on. “Well that was a first” I thought as I went to the pub next door for a quick drink.

However, it wasn’t my last… as a mouse running across the floor in the pub then freaked-out two of the women I was drinking with (something to do with open toed shoes). Me being ever the biologist I wanted to see it, but it was too quick for me & for the shrieking 30-something women I was with. Nothing like giving in to stereotype hey ladies?

The prevalence of rodents in Amsterdam warrants a course of action & this being the Netherlands things are done a little differently. Whereas in the UK café after café would be shut down & fumigated here in Amsterdam a more practical approach is taken. Cats! Walk down a restaurant-lined street after closing time & you will quite often be greeted with a pair of luminous eyes staring at you out of a window.

The feline guardians aren’t just there during closing hours. I was once surprised to see a very well fed cat weaving its way between packed tables in a busy restaurant, although the size of it was probably more down to scraps than mice. That’s just something you wouldn’t see in an eatery in the UK. With our council’s overdeveloped sense (& I use the term “sense” loosely) of health & safety an animal’s presence in an establishment that sells food just wouldn’t be tolerated… even if it did more good than harm.

In Amsterdam I’ve seen cats not just in restaurants but also in veterinaries (I assume they weren’t just escapees), pet shops (again… not escapees) & had a lovely time cuddling the most gorgeous black kitten between potting balls & my local pool hall.

Amsterdam maybe overrun with mice but that doesn’t mean the rodents are getting it all their own way. The battle lines have been drawn. All hail the cats, our new overlords (& don’t they just know it)!


A Windmill In Old Amsterdam

A mouse lived in a windmill in old Amsterdam
A windmill with a mouse in and he wasn’t grousin’
He sang every morning, “How lucky I am,
Living in a windmill in old Amsterdam!”

I saw a mouse!
There on the stair!
Where on the stair?
Right there!
A little mouse with clogs on
Well I declare!
Going clip-clippety-clop on the stair
Oh yeah

This mouse he got lonesome, he took him a wife
A windmill with mice in, it’s hardly surprisin’
She sang every morning, “How lucky I am,
Living in a windmill in old Amsterdam!”


First they had triplets and then they had quins
A windmill with quins in, and triplets and twins in
They sang every morning, “How lucky we are
Living in a windmill in Amsterdam, ya!”


The daughters got married and so did the sons
The windmill had christ’nin’s when no one was list’nin’
They all sang in chorus, “How lucky we am
Living in a windmill in old Amsterdam!”


A mouse lived in a windmill, so snug and so nice
There’s nobody there now but a whole lot of mice.


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