Bodega cats live in bodegas! Europeans probably won’t know what a bodega is. I didn’t until I looked it up. New Yorkers will know.
In the UK we might call them a “corner shop”. In America people call them a “corner store”. Not very different. In New York City a corner shop selling a wide range of products including booze is called a “bodega”. I am going to guess and say not everyone uses that term. Another definition would be an Hispanic/Spanish/Latin mini-mart. Are all bodegas owned by people of Latin American, Hispanic or Spanish origin or descent? Someone tell me in a comment, please
The word sounds foreign to English speakers and it is. It comes form the Spanish “la bodega” meaning grocery store.
The word was used in NYC to mainly describe corner shops in the Spanish speaking neighbourhoods of the city. Usage was extended to cover corner shops generally.
The bodega cat in the video below has died but he was loved:
I see that sometimes New Yorkers use “deli” as an interchangeable term to bodega. In the UK a deli is not a corner shop. A deli is a delicatessen specialising in selling delicious things to eat; fancy foods.
So bodega cats are cats living in independently owned/managed corner stores which are conveniently sited.
Bodega cats are arguably nearer to what domestic cats should be than the classic domestic cat living in someone’s home. This is because they serve a purpose over and above keeping the owner and staff of the shop company. The keep the rodents down and away. This is reminiscent of early cat domestication.
I guess they also please most customers by their presence. And they add a bit of character and soul to the store.
And I think we should thank the bodega cat caretakers because sometimes (most times?) these cats are rescued from the streets or rescue centres and given a nice home.
You’ll find that in Mediterranean European countries and in Asia domestic cat ownership is more along the lines of bodega cats. These are community street cats with no direct owner. They are part of the community and are fed and cared for by the community and shop keepers.
There are some really excellent bodega cat videos on the WNYC.org website. A couple are on this page. They provide a nice flavour of what the lives of these cats are like. It is a decent life. As good as any in a nice but non-commercial home.