Handsome Rescue Cat Hamlet Runs His Own Hotel

by Britt
Photo credit: IrinaPhVideo / Shutterstock.com

Move over, Fido! Who needs a guard dog when you have a feline overseeing the place? At least, that’s how the owners and employees of New York City’s Algonquin Hotel seem to believe…

Since the 1930s, the hotel lobby has been carefully supervised by a one-of-a-kind employee. But don’t let his small size fool you – the Algonquin Cat, as they are lovingly called, is an important fixture of the hotel with a long history that most are unaware of.

The tradition began when the hotel’s owner, Frank Case, welcomed a stray orange tabby cat named Billy into the hotel. It wasn’t long before Billy could be seen walking the hotel’s elegant halls with his head (and tail) held high. Before long, he was renamed Hamlet (a more literary name suitable for a cat with such big responsibilities), and a legend was born.

Since that day, the hotel has never been without a feline greeter. All boy cats that serve in this role are orange tabbies named Hamlet while all girl cats are ragdolls named Matilda. The best part? In honor of the first Hamlet’s origin story, all the hotel’s resident cats are rescues.

Today, Hamlet the 8th continues to rule the hotel lobby, an incredible step up from the feral cat colony he once called home.

When he’s not working, Hamlet is pampered with daily brushing, fashion show benefits, birthday parties, and other perks. Plus, of course, the steady stream of attention that he receives from the many cat lovers who come to see the hardworking kitty.

Just a couple of years ago, the hotel underwent a refresh. The oldest continuously operating hotel in the city was starting to look a little worn. In addition to focusing on maintaining the historic architecture and feel of the hotel, the redesign also focused on finding new ways to accommodate Hamlet VIII and the many cats that will follow in his paw prints.

A small cat house was installed by the reception desk. “The idea is, hopefully, he likes it in there so the guests can see him when they first walk in, but he also feels safe,” explained Sara Duffy, a principal at the architecture and interior design firm Stonehill Taylor who carried out the hotel’s refresh.

The cat-friendly accommodations didn’t end there. A bookshelf in the hotel’s lounge features cat-friendly nooks and ladders, allowing him to easily move around the room while visiting with various guests. A daybed by the window creates the perfect place for Hamlet VIII to relax and soak up the sun’s rays.

“He likes to be up high and look down, to observe but not be pet all the time. But sometimes he likes to come down and participate,” said Duffy when asked about the lounge’s design features.

If you’re interested in visiting Hamlet VIII while in New York, the Algonquin Hotel is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues at 59 West 44th Street. Or you can read more about these legendary cats in the book Matilda, the Algonquin Cat.

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Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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