Matilda, the Algonquin’s pet cat, was supposed to be protected as a part of the iconic hotel’s legacy when the place was sold to Marriott earlier this year. It wasn’t Marriott that tried to get rid of Matilda; it was the Department of Health, which found the presence of a roaming cat in the hotel’s lobby and bar to be unsanitary. The hotel compromised, and leashed Matilda to the front desk.
They’ve since installed an electric fence to keep her out of the food-preparation area, or other areas, depending on the time. “If Matilda went into the wrong part of the lobby at, say, cocktail time, she would get a jolt, ‘kind of like a vibrating buzz,’” reports the Times. Matilda seems to have adjusted to the new restrictions, but just in time to be packed off to a kitty spa in Queens while the place is renovated. We’re a little worried — will Matilda really be brought back from Queens? And, more troubling still, why wasn’t she on this prestigious list of 2011’s Most Important Cats? Did the Department of Health pay someone off?