How does a woman from Queens who has two pairs of two littermates rescued from different New York City communities wind up spending her day managing the calendar and communications of the hospitality industry’s most famous cat?
During a visit to New York City to celebrate National Take Your Cat To The Vet Day, we were fortunate to have had the pleasure of getting to know Happy Cat Month’s CATalysta, Alice DeAlmeida, and even accompany her on a visit to her Manhattan veterinarian!
With four special cats at home and an “extra special” –and perhaps extra needy- cat at work, Alice deAlmeida has the best of both worlds. Since 2005 when she started at the famous historical Algonquin Hotel, her official title has been Administrative Assistant. She knows all the staff, how long they’ve been there (Alice has been there longer than some and far less than others), and all the wonderful things each of them contribute to the smooth operation of this warm and wonderful property. What Alice didn’t know at the beginning was that she would actually be “reporting to” Matilda (the famous cat’s official title is the DirectFURR of Guest Relations) and Alice become best known as the Chief Cat Officer and Matilda’s purrsonal assistant.
“It all started in 1923 and the current Matilda is actually the 11th Algonquin cat,” explains Alice. “The boys are named Hamlet and the girls, Matilda. When I started, I didn’t even know the cat existed; the current Matilda’s predecessor had just been named “Cat of the Year” by the Westchester Cat Association and the rest is, well, more history.” And that’s when Matilda’s fame took off. Since then, Matilda and the hotel have been interviewed, photographed, written about and otherwise celebrated and the Algonquin has hosted feline fundraising events that raise money to support the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals (which encompasses over 150 shelters throughout the city) where Alice remains a strong supporter and connector for the city-wide community.
Most recently, a celebration of the return of the Broadway musical, Cats to New York gave visitors to the hotel’s lobby and lounges a look at the history of cat in popular culture.
Alice describes the difference between cats and dogs like this: “Cats are smarter than dogs- you can tell by their behavior…when you give a bowl of food to a dog, generally it just bolts towards the bowl and eats it down without thinking about anything else along the way. Cats, on the other hand, are more discerning. First they look around to make sure it’s safe, then they carefully walk up to the food and check out the environment and the food to make sure everything is OK before they begin.”
After her day filled with answering Matilda’s email, posting on Facebook, tweeting for Matilda and even taking her to her veterinarian, Alice gets to go home to her four rescues-Mini Kat, Simba, Skipper and Buffy who are happy to just have Alice put her phone away and relax in their company, stroke and enjoy them.
written by Dr. Jane Brunt