Pollux, Minetje, Nero, Falla, Riffie, Poel, Cesar, Peter, Niek and Mietje, Simiertje, Lutin and Carlo: the Willet-Holthuysens certainly owned a lot of pets (cats and dogs) – and this is probably not even the full list of names.  

Louisa was very fond of dogs from a young age. On one of her portraits, she is depicted adoringly stroking a little white dog. She was an only child and the pets likely provided welcome companionship. The animals would have led a comfortable life in the salons and parlours of the house on the Herengracht. 

The dogs even joined Louisa in the trains and coaches on her trips through Europe, first together with her parents and later with her husband. Sometimes as many as four went along for the ride! When one pet died during the Holthuysen’s trip to Paris in 1849, it was sent to be stuffed by Verreaux, a famous firm of taxidermists. The pet was to be brought back to Amsterdam at all costs.

Once Louisa’s parents had passed away and Abraham had moved into the house on the Herengracht, it remained home to many ‘four-legged friends’. In addition to the cats and small dogs was Abraham’s St. Bernard Figaro. The Willet-Holthuysens loved their pets. After a raging fire broke out in their French country house in 1884, costing the lives of three dogs, they decided to never return. From then on, the abandoned house was to serve as a monument to the pets that had perished in the flames.