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Posts Tagged ‘kidnapped’

Photo: Rob Hitt.
A kitten is on duty in a New York shop.

New Yorkers seem to love the cats that hang out in little food shops and chase mice. More often than not, local culture overrules concerns about health regulations. And shoppers love to share photos of their favorite bodega cats on social media.

Hakim Bishara writes at Hyperallergic about one such enthusiast. “Who doesn’t like bodega cats? The feline sheriffs, tasked with warding off rodents and pests in New York’s convenience stores and delis, have long signified a unique and beloved local phenomenon.

“Since 2012, Rob Hitt, a Brooklyn-based web developer and music producer, has been taking and collecting photographs of domesticated cats in bodegas across the city and posting them on his social media. Since then, his Twitter and Instagram accounts have gained a massive following, with hundreds of contributions featuring adorable bodega cats patrolling stores, perching on shelves among products, climbing onto ATM machines, or examining customers with a suspicious eye. …

“While New York’s public health department codes prohibit bodega cats, they have been valuable assets to their owners, who prefer to pay the $200 to $350 fine for holding the cat than dealing with a rodent infestation, which can harm products while also incurring a penalty of $300.

“As Hitt’s social media clout grew, he started an online shop selling bodega cats-themed merchandise, from shirts and tote bags to baby onesies. A portion of the profits goes to NYC animal rescue and trap–neuter–return organizations including FlatbushcatsTrapKingPets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) NY, and others. Hitt also promotes the work of such organizations on his blog.”

By the way, when a bodega cat was kidnapped a couple years ago, the neighborhood was outraged. The New York Times had that story.

Azi Paybarah wrote, ” ‘The incident happened at 7:19 a.m. Friday,’ Anik Ahmed said. ‘She went outside at like 7:20, and the guy picked her up at like 7:23. And we noticed the cat was missing by 7:35.’

“Mr. Ahmed, 27, was referring to Lexi, the year-and-a-half-old tabby who has been a fixture at 71 Fresh Deli and Grocery, his store in Kips Bay, Manhattan. Surveillance video appears to show the cat vanishing when a man passes by. …

“She was ‘the neighborhood’s cat,’ one worker told NY1. The Daily News described how ‘bereft’ workers were searching for ‘the furry darling.’ …

“Fliers with Lexi’s picture are being distributed. Mr. Ahmed said he thought the catnapping was intentional, but added, ‘I’m not going to press charges.’

“Lexi came into Mr. Ahmed’s life when a friend’s cat had a litter. Soon, Mr. Ahmed said, he found himself with a curious kitten who befriended customers and workers alike.

“She even started helping around the store: Mr. Ahmed said the building’s superintendent noticed a reduction in the rodent population.

“Before opening the deli about five years ago, Mr. Ahmed was a software engineer tester, looking for potential breaches in new websites and apps. He acknowledges now that he could have kept Lexi more secure.”

More at the New York Times, here. I haven’t been able to discover if Lexi was ever returned to Ahmed. If you know, please comment below. And you can enjoy lots of pictures of other bodega cats at Hyperallergic, here.

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