All across the boroughs of New York City, there are over 10,000 little Bodegas stores, it is a term that comes from Latin American Spanish which means a small neighborhood store. Across New York’s five boroughs there are many of these stores. They sell food and goods, an important part of each community, and also a place where you can see a famous Bodega cat. If you are lucky you may even get to pet one.
These working felines are actually protecting the store from vermin. They may be lounging around or greeting customers asking for cuddles, but actually, these cats are killing machines. They are sworn to a duty of clearing out the store from rats and mice, or other vermin, and in the process making sure the store owner does not get hit with a hefty fine. Vermin are a major issue in New York which is why the city is so quick to impose a fine on store owners, mostly because as you know rats spread diseases quickly.
And the internet loves them. There are photos and pages everywhere talking about different bodega cats. Nestling in a shopping basket or lounging on a countertop, definitely, these kitties look very cute. Some of them now even have their own Instagram pages, the internet has caused the simple bodega cat to become a famous tale and something to see when you visit New York City.
But the big question is, are these cats actually legal? Well, that is the problem the city’s Department of Health and Hygiene faces because cats do fall under a prohibition. Cats should not be on a premise where food and drink are sold. The law states that cats may shed hair or excrement around the edible products and thus cause a violation of safety regulations. The fines for keeping a bodega cat can range up to $2000, but still, store owners do it.
Many argue that cats are far less a health hazard than rats and are actually a much safer solution than using chemicals. Exterminators use toxic and poison which sometimes causes vermin to drop dead in small places that take the store owner ages to find. Just having a cat on the premises is known to deter small vermin. And well there is an emotional attachment to the Bodega cat, it is a cultural thing, that many New Yorkers would never choose to give up.