Meet the Furry Guardians of NYC’s Corner Stores: The Bodega Cats
Bodega cats, the furry guardians of New York City’s corner stores, have become a staple of city life, beloved by residents and visitors alike. These cats are typically found living in small grocery stores and other corner shops, and they serve as protectors, companions, and even store mascots.
The origins of bodega cats are unclear, but they likely have their roots in New York City’s longstanding tradition of keeping cats to control vermin. Many bodegas, particularly those in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations, have a resident cat that roams the store, keeping mice and rats at bay.
But these feline employees do much more than just hunt pests. Bodega cats have become beloved members of their communities, greeting customers, lounging in sunbeams, and even helping to reduce stress for store owners.
One such example is Blackie, a seven-year-old black cat who lives in the East Village bodega Bond Street Market. Store owner Saied Abulhassan says Blackie is not only a great mouser but also a comforting presence for customers.
“People come to the store just to see the cat, they feel comfortable with him. They say hi, pet him, take pictures,” Abulhassan told the New York Post.
Bodega cats have also become social media stars, with many stores creating Instagram accounts for their resident felines. These accounts feature photos and videos of the cats lounging on shelves, playing with toys, and interacting with customers, adding to their already substantial fanbase.
But it’s not all fun and games for the bodega cats. The New York City Department of Health technically requires all food establishments to maintain a pest-free environment, which means bodega cats technically are not allowed.
However, many store owners ignore this rule, and as long as the cats are well-cared-for and not disrupting the store’s operations, they are generally left alone.
Overall, bodega cats are a beloved and essential part of New York City’s corner store culture. They bring joy, comfort, and a sense of community to their neighborhoods, and they remind us that sometimes the most unexpected things can become beloved icons of city life.
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