Room 101

"Cats are like magic."

Joseph Mendez, a professional jai alai player for 16 years in the 1950s and 60s, was the last in a chain of volunteer caretakers for the scores of feral cats that resided on the grounds of the Ambassador Hotel and Gardens during its later days.

Joe's earliest memory of the Ambassador was when he and his wife toured the grounds and visited the gift shop sometime in late 1970s. But his involvement with the place reached a profound level when he came to look after a large population of feral cats starting from July 2000 until June 2006, when there was only one cat left.

Joe Mendez successfully relocated 35 peace-and-quiet-appreciating cats (many of them to his own home) prior to the demolition of the Ambassador yet was saddened by the destruction of the site saying, it's an "injustice to take cats from their territory."

The names of the Ambassador Cats are Heather, Blondy, Pumpkin, Plato, Cleopatra, Delilah, Nina, Maddy, Smokey, Winston, Daphney, and Mitzi.

Smokey, Winston, Daphney and Mitzi ran away from Joe's home after his rescue. Joe still thinks about them often.

Here are some of Joe's snapshots of the Ambassador Cats.