Yes, having a bodega cat is not technically “legal,” but it’s not “legal” in the way that drinking wine in the park or bringing your dog into a bar isn’t legal, which is to say it’s an accepted form of New York life that no one minds so long as you don’t make a big deal of it. Yet someone did make a big deal of it in a (what now appears to be deleted) Yelp review of S.K. Deli in the East Village last month, revealing themselves as potentially a fresh-off-the-bus noob or maybe someone who has somehow never needed beer, condoms and Windex in the middle of the night.
The, reviewer, Diana D., has been getting roasted by fellow Yelpers with comments like: “No one likes you. This deli has pretty much anything you might want out of a deli. Owner is a hard ass but the cat is awesome,” which is about the perfect description for most bodegas in New York. UPDATE: Someone created a petition to legalize bodega cats once and for all.
We can disagree on the value of cats (they’re bad, IMO! Furry black holes that suck up all human attention around them and spew out allergens. But hey that’s just MO). But bodegas keep them around to help scare off mice and rats, and I would definitely rather have a cat around my food than a mouse or rat. They’re the unofficial mascots of bodegas citywide, spawning Twitter accounts, adoption programs, Tumblr tributes and much more, and they’re one of the few joys that can make this bleak, uncaring city seem a little softer, and pet-able, for a moment or two.
Gothamist’s Ask a Native New Yorker tackled this topic a few years ago, basically telling people to suck it up, pop a Claritin and leave the cats alone.
In conclusion, it is unzen to resent the world for not changing to suit your needs. Long term you will be happier if you adapt yourself to its imperfections. Or, I don’t know, try Amazon Prime 1-hour delivery—I think they’re serving Harlem now!
Bodega owners could face $300-$2,000 in fines, according to the Times, so consider not narcing out one of these small businesses on Yelp. If you see say a bodega snake, however, all bets are off.
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