Felines in fedoras and feathers showed off their catitude at The Algonquin Hotel’s 11th annual Cat Fashion Show: “The Purring '20s.”
Eight cats, or “mewdles” as they’re called at The Algonquin, were dressed up in 1920s get-ups celebrating the illustrious men and women who frequented the hotel’s “roundtable” during that time (George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker and Harpo Marx, among others) and were be “supervised” by the hotel’s new resident cat, Hamlet.
Thursday's show, which starred cats who actually don’t mind being dressed up and held by their cat moms, also featured Broadway star Sarah Rice and an adoption hour.
The show acts as a fundraiser for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. The agency, which helps support 150 animal shelters across the five boroughs, will get 100 percent of the proceeds from tickets, raffles and the silent auction, according to the hotel’s “chief cat officer,” Alice De Almeida (yes, that is actually her title).
Each feline wore custom-made costumes by designer Ada Nieves. “If it moves, she designs for it,” De Almeida told amNewYork inside the hotel’s lobby. Nieves has made costumes for dogs, cats, chickens and even lizards.
In past shows, cats have appeared as Carmen Miranda with a big hat, Little Orphan Annie, a cabaret dancer, Harpo Marx and many more.
Hamlet, the resident cat, is unhappy wearing clothes, so he just wore fur (his own).
The usually mellow orange and white shorthair is new to the show but was up for the task, De Almeida said.
“Hamlet is so full of it,” she said. “He loves people and loves being down here having encounters with people and both dogs and cats. He couldn’t care less. He’s a lover.”
On the big night, he had a lot of responsibilities to juggle: Making sure people are happy, giving out goody bags, running the raffles and making “furends” with all the people, De Almeida joked. She constantly “talks cat,” using puns whenever possible.
With all the excitement, he had to get into tiptop shape with a bath and got his nails clipped so he could represent the hotel.
There has been a line of 12 cats (Hamlet included) that have lived at the hotel since the early 1930s. Billy was the first, followed by Rusty, a stray orange cat who was renamed to Hamlet to honor actor John Barrymore and his greatest stage role.
Technically, today’s Hamlet is the eighth — resident male cats are Hamlet and female cats have been named Matilda.
Matilda III retired last summer to a wildlife refuge in Minnesota and died a few months later.
Even though De Almeida considers herself as Hamlet’s cat mom, she has to leave him when she goes home to her own three cats for the day. Hamlet stays at the hotel 24/7, but has a wide range of lounging spaces, from custom-made tree houses to the lobby’s desk and a window display. When visitors come into his house, he makes sure to check them out from afar.
Having a cat around is definitely a work benefit for De Almeida.
“Cats are easy and they know how you’re feeling and when you really need them,” she said. “They’re like women, too — unpredictable.”
Get to know the whiskers behind the curtain
Name: Hamlet VIII
Nickname: “Hammy” and “My boy”
Breed: American shorthair with tabby/orange and white coloring
Weight: 16.2 pounds
Hometown: Hempstead, Long Island
Family members: Alice and those men who lug those big, rolling boxes in and out of the hotel.
Likes: Being pet; greeting visitors to the hotel; watching people; lounging in my tree houses, especially the one with the glass window; ignoring oglers; being in front of the camera; grilled chicken filet treats; getting cards from fans; helping other felines get homes; being fabulous.
Dislikes: Baths; being pet for too long and costumes, oh God, the costumes.
Years as official resident cat at The Algonquin: 1
Duties: Looking cute; posing for the camera; doing “intermews;” watching for other four-legged and six-legged creatures; overseeing the Cat Fashion Show.