The historic Algonquin Hotel in New York City is famous for many things, but the furriest of all is the cat who resides in the lobby and greets incoming guests. The tradition of a resident feline at the famed hotel began in the late 1930s, when a stray cat wandered in looking for food and shelter. Legend has it, the hotel's owner at the time welcomed in the wandering stranger, and as they say, the rest if hist-purry.
Since that time, ten lucky felines have called The Algonquin home (all the boys are named Hamlet, all the females are Matilda), and last year, Matilda II went out with a swinging 15th birthday soiree, before retiring to a "classic pre-war" apartment in Brooklyn after nearly 13 years of service. Before her departure, she sniffed out a suitable replacement, and found one in Matilda III, a pink-nosed Ragdoll who was adopted from the North Shore Animal League in Manhattan.
In lieu of the annual birthday bash that was typically thrown for Matilda II every August, which also serves as a benefit for the North Shore Animal League, this year the party was billed as a "Debutante Ball," where the four-year-old Matilda III was officially presented into high society.
Mýa was overtaken by the paw-parazzi
Last night, I had the privilege of mixing with New York City's feline elite at the star-studded event, hosted by pet lifestyle expert Sandy Robins, and Grammy award winning singer-songwriter and actress, Mýa. Esteemed guests were treated to scrumptious cat-approved fare such as tuna fish finger sandwiches, bacon wrapped sea scallops, and coconut shrimp hors d'oeuvres.
For $20, guests could purchase designer kitty cocktails, also benefiting the animal rescue organization. Options included scintillating selections such as Purrtinis, Pink Pussy Cats, and of course, the eponymous Matilda, consisting of Belvedere Ponaranza, Cointreau, lemon & orange juice, and a splash of Perrier Jouet (you can read about my experience trying one back in February here).
Matilda III being presented by her executive assistant, Alice de Almeida
The furry guest of honor was being a bit shy, and only made a brief appearance for the cameras, while donning an elegant royal purple cape, trimmed in white faux fur, silver braiding, and red hearts.
Meow Wear designer Carla Reiss posing with one of the MEWdels
In addition to the food, drinks, and celebrity guests, the highlight of the affair was the Meow Wear cat fashion show, presented by designer Carla Reiss.
Sleepy Prince Charming
Elvis cruising along in his signature Pink Cadillac
While there were no Robert Pattinsons or Chiquita Bananas like in years past, this year's catwalk, starring MEWdels from the Westchester Feline Club, did feature a sleepy kitty Prince Charming, along with Elvis in his signature Pink Cadillac!
Cake by Adam Beckworth of A Little Somethin' Sweet
Of course, no social event of the season would be complete without a chichi cake, and there was one in the form a four-story fondant masterpiece, designed by Adam Beckworth of A Little Somethin' Sweet. The beautiful creation was clearly the work of a skilled artisan (it was decorated with white ruffles and pink roses, but sadly no cats!), but I can't comment on how it tasted, because it wasn't served to the guests!
All in all I had a wonderful time at the ball, and wish the new Matilda the best in her new post as "Directfurr of Guest Relations" at the Algonquin. If you ever get the chance to visit, make sure to stop by the lobby and say hello, or book the special Friends of Matilda package, where you will be treated to a welcome letter from the kitty herself, and a Matilda replica plush of your very own!