CAT MAN MONDAY: Every Princess (Cheeto) Needs a Prince

I first became acquainted with Princess Cheeto on Instagram and immediately feel in love. While the Princess is quite a beauty, it’s the photograph that  captured my attention.

Princess Cheeto

Is that a Princess Cheeto stuffed animal at FAO Shwarz???! Only one left! HURRY! 

Princess Cheeto at FAO Sschwarz

In this post I will have the great pleasure of introducing you to Princess Cheeto (if you don’t already know her), her dad Hugo Martinez, as well as take you behind the scenes of her shoots where all the “magic” happens with never before seen photos and commentary – an I HAVE CAT EXCLUSIVE!

Her photos stand apart from the thousands of adorable cat photos and gifs on Instagram in their simplicity, whimsy, design and coloration.  They exude humor and joy.

Princess Cheeto

They make me smile and I’m not alone. Close to 7k Princess Cheeto Instagram followers concur, not to mention all her Tumblr fans. I find myself anticipating her daily posting and check back again and again if it’s not yet been posted.

I believe it was a friend who tagged me on a photo of Cheeto on her dad’s head one with the tag/note “@ihavecat your next Cat Man Monday?”

Hugo Martinez and Princess Cheeto

How could I resist? I sent an Instagram message to the account (that only took about three days to figure-out considering I have no teenagers in my life!).

I received a prompt and eager message from Hugo Martinez, the man behind the Princess. We made a date to meet up the Maid Café NYC in Chinatown for a bubble tea date.

Maid Cafe NYC and Princess Cheeto

After exchanging gifts and enjoying our Taro bubble tea, we took a walk so I could introduce Hugo to meet Bobo, a lovable, ginger, China town gift shop cat I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago. I must admit I wasn’t exactly sure where Bobo’s store was, just the general vicinity, so poor Hugo had to endure a bit of a wild goose-chase. He was a super good sport about it.

hugo-boboGrowing up as an only child for a while before his brothers were born, he says he, “had a few cats I loved very much, maybe a little too much…they always ran away.” Awwwwwww!

As an adult, Hugo dreamed of having a ginger cat named Cheeto and spoke of it incessantly to his roommate.On his 23rd birthday she made his wish come true. Well, kind of.

Princess Cheeto

She presented him with a female tuxedo cat. It’s unclear if she wasn’t listening to him, is hard of hearing, or the ASPCA was plumb out of ginger cats that day.

Regardless, the cat’s physical appearance, Hugo was undeterred in living out his fantasy to the best of his ability naming her “Cheeto” regardless of her appearance. He added “Princess” to make it more feminine and la viola, “Princess Cheeto” was born!

Princess Cheeto Halloween Gif

A photographer’s assistant – in his modestly he failed to mention the photographer in question is non-other than David LaChapelle. Hugo’s often ribbed by co-workers asking when he became a crazy cat lady. But I have to wonder if David secretly desires to shoot Cheeto much as Karl Lagerfeld has Choupette for print and TV.

His first shots of Cheeto were what he describes as “average snap shots,” until he realized how much fun Cheeto and her growing fan-based were having with the photos. “The reaction my friends had to her colorful photos encouraged me to take it up another level.”

Princess Cheeto

 She’s a consummate professional who seems to enjoy the limelight. Hugo says she’s a fast worker and she, “usually goes and stands on the seamless paper as soon as a roll it out. I think she likes how the texture of the paper feels on her paws.” (Let’s just give her credit and say the cat knows how to hit a mark!).

This cat’s no fool. According to dad, ”her favorite part about all of this is getting the treats after.”

Princess Cheeto in the City

They’ve even done a few “Cheeto in the City” shots around their apartment. He of course has someone with him to be Cheeto’s “handler,” he wonders if she was a bodega cat in a past life given her general comfort during these outings.

Princess Cheeto in the City Hugo’s goal was never to show her off:

‘it was more about creating something fun. Something happy that could make people stop and forget about the stresses of everyday life. Overall, it’s the best feeling to have an audience react in such a positive way to the photos we create. I never thought that would happen, but I am glad I have found a way to combine my passion for photography and felines!”

Princess Cheeto and pizza GIF

And now I’m honored to share with you a BEHIND THE SCENES look at a Princess Cheeto photo shoot with commentary courtesy of Hugo. 

Princess Cheeto and Hugo Martinez

“Cheeto is never late for a wardrobe fitting.”

Princess Cheeto Photoshoot

“Patience is key to photographing a sassy model.”


Princess Cheeto the Tuxedo Cat during a photoshoot

“Taking a break between shots helps to keep Cheeto in the zone (treats don’t hurt either!).”


Princess Cheeto wearing Kid Robot

“Her favorite accessories to rock are her signature strawberry and pizza collars that I made from Kid Robot keychains.”


Kid Robot accessories for Princess Cheeto

Princess Cheeto all rolled up

“Somedays this piece of sass wont corporate. But sometimes those improv moments are the best shots.”


PrincessCheeto waiting for pizza

“Here’s a photo of me and Cheeto waiting for the pizza man to come.”

Printed Photos of Princess Cheeto

“One of my favorite things to do is to print all the photos I take of Cheeto. In todays digital world, having a tangible photograph feels like a throwback to a more creative time when I was little.”


Photo Booth time with Cheeto

CHEETO TIME IS HT BEST TIME! Having post-shoot Photo Booth time with Daddy! She’s just a kitty after all!

Tamar here again! 

It seems Miss Cheeto may be an aspiring photographer herself given her ever-growing collection of selfies.  The “morning selfie” (upper right) is quite impressive. She actually got most of her face in-frame!

Cheeto Selfies

If you’re now as madly in love with Princess Cheeto as I am – and I hope you are –  follow her on Instagram  (@PrincessCheeto) and check out her brand new store where you can find t-shirts, prints, iPhone cases and more with her mug (and Hugo’s work) on them!

Did these photos and gifs make you smile or giggle? I hope so. Do you have a favorite? 

Do you have a CAT MAN you’d like to see featured here? Have them email me at or email me and YOU can write about them! 



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  • Betty Murphy

    Tamar, Another incredible article, Thanx so much!! I am a total Princess Cheeto virgin, and absolutely LOVE her style and sense of moxy. I love her sense of simplicity, and the way her precious little face says so much, so that her surroundings can be simple and yet her photos say volumes. i love that she’s so secure that she had no problem with the release of her early morning selfie, she even exudes power with eyes half-open. I most definitely will be following her now that Princess Cheeto has come into my consciousness and world. Once again, I HAVE CAT has enriched my life. Great story Tamar!! Thank you!!

    • Tamar

      You are MOST welcome dear Betty! Thanks for taking the time to post and always reach out! She is a cutie pie! Enjoy the Cheeto! =^^=

  • jmuhj

    Hugo and PRINCESS CHEETO=a winning combo! Love every one of the photos and the story — and how about that shark cat bed?!! 😉

    • Tamar

      Tehe! I know! I totally agree and that bed is adorable – i could look at their photos for HORUS!

  • kittiesblue

    Thanks for introducing us to princess Cheeto. She is quite adorable and seems to be very talented as well. Purrs and paw-pats, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    • Tamar

      So true! =^^=

    • Tamar

      Welcome welcome! thank YOU for stopping by! 🙂

  • Princess Cheeto is awesome! I aspire to be like her. But then, a cat like her needs a good human behind her. I’m not sure mine is up to the task.

    • Tamar


  • We didn’t know Princess Cheeto until now. Wow, what a pro she is at having her pictures taken. We’ll be following her for sure now.

    • Tamar

      YAy! she is a total cutie and her dad is very sweet! And talented!

  • Maybe I’m silly, but the story of how Princess Cheeto came to be is the best part of this story 🙂

    • Tamar

      TEhe! it’s cute! I like how he wouldn’t change the name even tho she wasn’t a Ginger! LOL! And how his roommate still got him a tux even tho he’d been talking about an orange cat for ages! Guess it all worked out! LOL!

  • We just wanted to come by and say hi and this is a super post!

    Noodle and crew

    • Tamar

      Thank you Noodle Thank you!

  • I did not know this beautiful princess until now. Lola must follow her in Instagram! And I’m insanely jealous that she is so cooperative with all of that! I need to speak to Lola and Lexy.

  • Princess Cheeto! What a great name. It’s so important to carefully choose a name for your kitten. Each one is a living, breathing soul. If anyone is looking for help choosing a cat name you can go to a place like Cat Names City