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What is a Bodega Cat

Ever seen a picture or video of a bodega cat and wondered what exactly that means? 

Bodega cats are cats who live at a bodega (New York City’s term for a convenience store or deli). Also known as deli cats, store cats, and shop cats, bodega cats are excellent greeters and also great pest control! 

cat sticking tongue out

Why Are They Called Bodega Cats?

The term is derived from the Spanish word “bodega,” which means “wine cellar” or “storeroom.” In New York City, bodegas are typically convenience stores that sell groceries, deli meats, sandwiches, and other items. 

These cats typically don’t keep off the countertops. They can often be seen napping on shelves in between the snacks or sprawled out on the shop floor totally relaxed. Bodega cats are a cultural symbol in New York City and are the stars of plenty of social media posts. 

Are Bodega Cats Legal?

In New York City, Bodega cats are cause for concern under the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene because of the potential for food contamination. In fact, store owners can be fined $250-$300 for keeping a cat that is not a service animal. 

However, this hasn’t interfered with the presence of bodega cats in the city. There are upwards of 10,000 bodegas in New York City, many of which have cats. Since cats keep the rodents under control, the risk is worth it for many store owners. The fine for a rodent infestation is $300, so the financial damage would be comparable. 

cat with a bow tie

Are Bodega Cats Friendly?

Whether or not a bodega cat is friendly depends entirely on the cat’s individual personality and upbringing. Some are domesticated pet cats that the bodega owner raised and socialized. Others are feral cats that were lured in with treats to get pest populations under control, and trained to stay inside or around the shop.  

It’s always a good idea to ask the bodega owner if the cat is friendly before interacting with them.

Elizabeth Muenzen

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Content Specialist
DOG PERSON🐶

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
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Content Specialist
DOG PERSON🐶

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
Fun stuff: I love to cook!

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