NEW YORK – The Yelp page for an East Village bodega which recently made the news after someone left a one-star review complaining about its resident bodega cat has since received so many positive reviews that the Yelp overlords have begun deleting them. So instead of leaving yet another favorable review, one New Yorker has begun a change.org petition simply calling for the legalization of bodega cats.
The petition, which was created just two days ago by Nicholas McMurry, has already surpassed its 1,000-signature goal.
“Cats keep rodents out of food products and keep other pests at bay,” McMurry noted in the petition. “The fact that cats are not legal in bodegas but dogs are legal in restaurants is a complete joke.”
Despite the petition’s success, a representative from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets explained to the Gothamist that the presence of bodega cats is currently—and will continue to be—considered a “general deficiency, unless it could result in the contamination of product, at which point it would be a critical deficiency” and is actually punishable by a fine.
“The public is welcome to petition this regulation, however, it is intended to protect public health. This regulation is also consistent with the Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code,” spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said to the Gothamist via email.
Under the current regulations, deli and bodega owners will face fines of up to $3,000 for having a cat in their establishment. However, at the same time, they can also be fined $300 for the discovery of rodent fecal matter, and no amount of rat poison or sticky traps are as effective as a well-loved bodega cat.
And that is what “Diana D.”, the angry Yelper who left a negative review of SK Deli Market, clearly could not understand.
“To my dismay—there was a cat, perched upon some cases of Budweiser in the middle of the store!!” she commented. “Besides being allergic to cats, I wonder what the health code say [sic] about this?”
A similar question was posed to Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin in his Ask a Native New Yorker column just last year. So, what was his response to those considering narcing out bodega cats?
‘Sure, just walk in and explain yourself: “Hello, shopkeep! I am new in the neighborhood, and I was simply wondering if you’d be willing to evict your beloved deli cat, as its presence offends my delicate sinuses. Now would you please point me towards your kale aisle?”
Gentrification be unstoppable, and you may be its unwilling agent, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole while you are blithely at work. Be a thoughtful arriviste! Keep your head down for a few years. Don’t ask for accommodation. Remember: when possible, muggers prefer to stab the rude gentrifiers first.’