Written By: Melissa Lapierre
If ever a cat went from rags to riches, it’s Hamlet, the Algonquin Hotel’s newest feline mascot.
While on the job for less than a year, he’s already an expert at stealing the hearts of hotel patrons!
Early last summer Hamlet was searching for food in a Hempstead, Long Island feral colony when a Good Samaritan spotted him sitting on a windowsill.
A tipped left ear indicated that he had been TNR’d (trapped, neutered and returned), but before long he was pawing his way to Bidawee animal rescue in search of a forever home.
At around the same time, the Algonquin’s mascot for the previous seven years, Matilda, was planning her well-deserved retirement.
Hotel officials starting searching for an orange tabby just like the very first Algonquin Cat.
It had been over 40 years since the hotel had housed a male mascot.
As luck would have it Hamlet had just arrived at Bidawee, and it was love at first sight!
He moved into the hotel in July where he studied under the tutelage of Matilda (and a cat trainer) until making his debut in August at the Algonquin’s annual Cat Fashion Show, which raises money for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.
By September he was on the job full-time as hotel ambassador.
The tradition of the Algonquin Cat dates back to the early 1920’s.
The hotel’s first cat was named Billy, who lived in the hotel during the famed Round Table of the 1920’s.
In 1933, two days after Billy passed away a stray cat wandered into the hotel looking for shelter. He was immediately welcomed to stay and named Rusty.
Frequent guest John Barrymore, felt this name was too common for a cat residing in such a prestigious hotel.
He then renamed Hamlet in honor of Barrymore’s greatest stage role.
The tradition of the Algonquin Cat was born and over 96 years the hotel has had eight Hamlets and three cats named Matilda.
Today Hamlet charms everyone he meets, spending his days in the front lobby greeting his adoring public.
His favorite foods include bonito flakes, Temptations and Lickable treats.
Hamlet loves playing with wand toys and balls.
When he needs a time out he enjoys taking long cat naps in his multi-level cat tree and watching the city that never sleeps from the comfort and safety of a cozy window.
Guests are asked not to pick him up – he doesn’t like that – but he happily soaks up love and attention like a sponge from everyone he meets.
Hamlet even has his very own purr-sonal assistant, “Chief Cat Officer” Alice De Almeida, who assists with his social media presence, fan mail, grooming, feeding, and basically catering to his every whim.
He is a superstar, after all!
More excitement is ahead for Hamlet with the publication of the aptly-titled book “Hamlet, the Algonquin Cat”, set to make it’s debut at this year’s cat fashion show fundraiser in August.
It would appear the sky’s the limit for this sweet orange boy as he carries on a long tradition of turning the Algonquin into a tourist destination for cat lovers around the world!