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Why do Bodegas Keep Cats Around?
April 20, 2023 at 11:00 PM
by Daniel Mule
graphic image of orange bodega cat sleeping on store shelves

Bodegas are an integral part of the New York City landscape. These small, family-owned convenience stores can be found on almost every corner of the city, offering everything from snacks and drinks to household essentials and toiletries. But one of the unique aspects of bodegas is their feline residents - cats that roam the aisles and provide customers comfort and familiarity. This blog post will explore the history and significance of bodega cats in New York City.

The history of bodega cats can be traced back to the early 1900s when Italian immigrants began opening small grocery stores in urban areas. These stores, which came to be known as bodegas, were often run out of the front of the family's home and offered a range of goods to the surrounding community. As the popularity of bodegas grew, so did their need for pest control. It wasn't long before store owners realized cats were a highly effective way to keep rodents at bay. Bodega owners could maintain a clean and healthy environment for their customers by keeping their stores free of mice and rats.

Over time, bodega cats became more than just employees - they became beloved family members. Many store owners would take in stray cats and provide them with food, water, and shelter in exchange for their services. These cats quickly became integral to the bodega's identity, greeting customers with a friendly purr and a quick rub against their legs. Sometimes, bodega cats even became local celebrities, with customers stopping by to say hello and snap photos.

In addition to their pest control duties, bodega cats also serve as a source of comfort and companionship. For many people, bodegas are more than just a place to buy groceries - they are a community hub where neighbors can catch up and socialize. Having a cat around helps to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making customers feel at home and more likely to linger and chat. For some, the bodega cat may even be a therapy animal, providing emotional support during difficult times.

Bodega cats hold a special place in the hearts of many New Yorkers. They symbolize the city's vibrant immigrant history, a reminder of the importance of community, and a source of comfort and companionship for those who need it most. So the next time you visit a bodega, take a moment to say hello to the resident feline - you may just make a new furry friend.