“So when I write her name, is it Eloise Orenstein?” I ask Hannah Orenstein of her cat.
“No,” she says. “It’s just Eloise, like Cher or Madonna.”
And so I shimmy across the floor on my stomach to photograph Eloise, she of the permanent tuxedo and flashing yellow-green eyes. Eloise lives on the Upper East Side with her mom, Hannah, who adopted her in January 2015. Eloise was just a tiny kitten then, a mere two pounds at approximately three months old. But she is four now, and just about 15 pounds. When I hold her, which much to my shock and delight she allows me to do for several minutes at a time before squirming free, she is practically the length of my torso.
Hannah is not a New Yorker herself but Eloise is, named for one of the most famous New Yorkers of all time: the wily, petite namesake character who resides at The Plaza in Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight’s children’s book Eloise. In Hannah’s apartment, there’s a signed copy of the book so Eloise never forgets where she comes from.
When I arrive, Eloise is lounging behind Hannah’s dining room table.
“What’s that Linda Evangelista quote about not getting out of bed for less than $10,000 a day?” Hannah jokes. “I’ll put on Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ to see if that inspires her.”
And lo and behold, it does. Soon Eloise struts across Hannah’s pink carpet, tail curling mischievously as she moves toward me, tiny black nose sniffing the clicking black box in my hands. She has bright white whiskers and expressive white eyebrows that seem to do a sassy tilt when she looks at me and squints her eyes or angles her ears. Mostly Eloise is quite reserved, Hannah tells me, but apparently she does love a good pop diva. Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears follow, and Eloise saunters around me, sniffing curiously.
Soon she gets bored and simply stares, waddling over to have a nibble of kibble. She then wanders over to Hannah’s gold side table and flashes those golden green eyes at me and yawns a giant kitty yawn that bares all of her teeth. Eloise is schooling us all today on how to be a supermodel and is perhaps more fun to photograph than all of the supers combined. At the very least, she definitely has fewer demands in her rider.
“Eloise, come here, baby!” Hannah offers a hand to the cat, who points that tiny black nose at mom’s hand, fingers lacquered with silver polish. Eloise then rolls over onto her side to have her tummy scratched. “You’re doing great, sweetie!” Hannah says like a proud mom, ironically channeling Kris Jenner photographing Kim Kardashian. Hannah scoops up Eloise into her arms like a baby and the cat leans over her arms, paws draped as if holding on.
In Hannah’s window, there’s a portrait of Eloise painted by Hannah’s sister Julia. She lounges as nonchalantly on canvas as she does in real life.
Eloise makes regular appearances on Hannah’s Instagram, which you can follow here.