Does your cat dream of a career as a feline supermodel? Believe it or not, there are now a number of such opportunities for aspiring glamourpusses. In fact, my Lily got to strut her stuff on the catwalk at a kitty fashion show to benefit the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a nonprofit group working with rescue groups and shelters to make New York city a no-kill community. The event took place at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan in August.
Lily’s career as a feline fashionista was launched — by accident — after I wrote an article about cats in the glamour biz, in which I interviewed leading pet fashion designer Ada Nieves and cat model mom Karen Frewert.
Karen’s fab tabbies, Tigger and Cody, are seasoned pros who have tried their paws at print modeling and in-person promotional events as well as fashion shows. Karen, who’s from Long Island, saw a picture of my new Russian Blue kitten, Lily, and thought that she would make perfect model material. So she recommended her to Ada, who organizes and designs kitty couture for the annual Mayor’s Alliance feline fashion show, which benefits homeless pets.
A few months before the show, Ada asked me to email her Lily’s measurements, after which she sent her a sumptuous hot pink satin and lace halter dress so that she could get used to wearing clothes. Ada further advised that I take lots of pictures of Lily in the dress so she could become comfortable in front of the camera.
As cat parents know, a lot of kitties despise donning duds. That was not the case with Lily. Per Ada’s I advice, I began by putting the dress on her for a few minutes a day, then gradually increased the amount of time. Much to my surprise, she got used to wearing the outfit quickly. Perhaps that had something to do with the huge fuss her adopted big brother, Murphy, would make over her. Lily also was quite agreeable to being photographed in her dress. So it appeared that she was a cat-model natural, and we were on our way to the big time.
Ada decided on a Broadway theme for the 2014 show. The 14 kitty models — or “mew-dels,” as Ada called them — who were on board were to be dressed in costumes inspired by the shows Legally Blonde, Rock of Ages, Wicked and other popular “mew-sicals,” as she referred to them. Lily was to be dressed as the bride from Mamma Mia!
My mom drove Lily and me from Cherry Hill, N.J., to New York City for the big event. The morning of the show, I packed a model bag for Lily with all of the essentials that Karen and Ada suggested we bring: brush, cat food, harness and leash, some decorative items for the table that Lily would be stationed at — I brought pale pink silk rose pedals and a bouquet of faux flowers festooned with ribbon that I made — plus a few of her favorite toys. The show staff also provided a collection of litter boxes that were stationed under the vanity in the suite’s luxurious marble-tiled bathroom.
When my mom, Lily, and I arrived at the venerable Algonquin Hotel a few hours before the show, we were directed to the elegant Barrymore Suite on the second floor. There we were greeted by the merry mayhem of a gaggle of cats stationed on various clothed tables, whose humans were busily adjusting their costumes and fussing over them.
We were excited to learn that there were a couple of celebrity kitties in attendance, including Vito Vincent, the cat star of the Broadway show Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Tara the Hero Cat, whose video of her saving her human boy from a dog attack went viral.
Shortly after we arrived, Ada led us to our table and presented Lily with her outfit, a gorgeous white lace, satin and beaded bridal gown with a flowing tulle and lace veil. After donning it, Lily went about exploring the suite and checking out the kitty competition. She seemed to be enjoying herself until the event officially began at 5 p.m., after which the doors to the suite were opened to a mad crush of photographers, reporters and paying guests — including two of my cat-loving cousins, who came up from Pennsylvania to cheer Lily on.
Guests paid $40 each to spend time with the fabulous felines, as well as enjoy a reception in the hotel’s lounge with hors d’oeuvres, open bar and raffle with proceeds to benefit needy cats and kittens. It was a quite a grand soiree. However, Lily wanted no parts of this tumult, and spent the rest of the show sulking in her carrier. But those in attendance agreed that she made a lovely bride.
Although it was obvious that Lily doesn’t want to further pursue a career as a feline fashion model, we were happy to participate, because the event was for a very worthy cause. A grand total of $7,500 was raised for New York’s needy kitties. In addition, a number of cats and kittens who were available for adoption through Petco, which sent a van bearing homeless felines, found forever homes.
Overall, it was an experience Lily and I won’t soon forget.
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About the author: Alissa Wolf is an award-winning journalist and lifelong animal lover who lives near Atlantic City, N.J. with her cats, the dashingly handsome Murphy — the proud owner of a vast collection of bow ties — and Lily, an occasional feline fashion model. She writes about a variety of pet topics on her blog Critter Corner. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.