The Algonquin’s Pet Cat Is Headed to a Kitty Spa

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SEBASTIAN SMITH-US-ANIMAL-FOOD-HOTEL-HEALTH-OFFBEAT Matilda III sits with a leash on the front desk counter at The Algonquin Hotel November 22, 2011 in New York. The cat is the Algonquin's most pampered guest but now has to suffer the indignity of being leashed until she understands that due to newly enforced city hygiene rules the lobby has been declared for human use only.  The restrictions on Matilda's movements came under pressure from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which grades eating establishments around the city and can ruin an outlet's reputation by awarding a dreaded "C."  Removing the cat from the seating area of the hotel's lobby area, where food is also served, was a preemptive measure while the hotel awaits what it hopes will be an "A."    The Algonquin has always had a house cat since the 1930s. Matilda, the 10th to take up residence, gets regular email and has her own room with a cat door -- and room service of course. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Most Important Cat of 2011.Photo: STAN HONDA/2011 AFP

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?