Bodega cat taken by a passerby and deeply missed. Was this theft?

This is New York, the home of Bodega cats. Bodega cats are community cats who live in delicatessen and general stores in New York. They are cared for by the community and perhaps a particular shopkeeper.

Lexi and Mr Ahmed
Lexi and Mr Ahmed. Photo: Anik Ahmed.
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In this example a Bodega cat by the name of Lexi, a female tabby-and-white, lived in and around the delicatessen and grocery store, 71 Fresh Deli and Grocery in Kips Bay, Manhattan.

Last Friday at around 7:20 am Lexi went outside of the shop and the shop owner, Mr Ahmed, said that “the guy picked her up at like 7:23. And we noticed the cat was missing by 7:35.”

Mr Ahmed considered Lexi to be his pet. This is an interesting point because are Bodega cats pets? For a cat to be a pet she has to be owned by an individual and I always thought that Bodega cats are community cats, not owned by anyone in particular but living amongst the community and cared for by the community, usually delicatessen shopkeepers. As she is a Bodega cat she is unowned and therefore there cannot be theft.

However, that’s probably a fine point. The more important point is that she is missed and considered by one worker in the area to be “the neighbourhood’s cat”. The workers in the area are bereft and was searching for their “furry darling”.

The usual loss cat posters have been distributed in the area. It is believed that the theft was intentional but Mr Ahmed is not going to press charges.

Lexi became Mr Ahmed’s pet when a friend’s cat had a litter of kittens and one of them, out of curiosity, entered his delicatessen and befriended him and the customers.

She became a working cat by keeping the rodent population down. Mr Ahmed admits that he gave Lexi a lot of freedom and he did not microchip her and neither did she wear a collar.

If he had microchipped her it would have been easier to both claim that he owned Lexi and to recover her.

He said:

“I’ve got to make sure I don’t leave a cat unattended any more. She had all the freedom.”

If he did that his cat would not be a Bodega cat but a pet 🙂 .

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