Many people have this misconception that cats are lazy. They sleep most of the time, my friend once told me, and on the rare occasion they're awake, they just meow for food. Yes, cats sleep about 15 hours a day, and yes, they like a nice snack but that doesn't mean they're spongers.
New York City is the mecca of today's working cat. Just walk inside a bodega and chances are you'll see Mr. Whiskers or Ms. Tabby purring around the place—business owners "hire" them for pest control; to manage or prevent rodent infestations.
To pay respect to these diligent felines, Rob Hitt started an online project, called Bodega Cats, where he posts the sweetest and funniest pictures people send him of the kitties they see in convenience stores.
"Since I moved to NYC, I’ve been familiar with cats in our local corner stores (bodegas) but it wasn’t until 2012 when I was out late one evening and stumbled my way into a bodega seeing a cat and making a late-night post to my Instagram feed that I came up with the idea for the project," Rob Hitt, the man behind Bodega Cats, told Bored Panda in an earlier interview.
"My friends enjoyed the photos of the cats I posted more than the photos of me! At that point, I decided to start the Bodega Cats accounts in hopes of giving people a moment of positivity and smile throughout their day."
Rob thinks there is no such a thing as a universal kind of bodega cat. Just like at home, every feline is different. "Cats will just be cats in terms of Bodega Cats vs. House Cats. They all have their own personalities. Feral cats, on the other hand, aren’t conditioned to seek out human interaction, so they act more secluded," the creator told us.
In 2020, when the pandemic took over the world and most animal welfare organizations were facing a shortage of donations, Bodega Cats decided to make a shirt for one of their favorite videos of all time and send the profits from the shirt to organizations like Flatbush Cats, Greenpoint Cats, Trap King, and Trap Queen.
Rob believes one of the reasons why people like his project so much is because they love stumbling upon something familiar in a totally unfamiliar way.
"It evokes a positive emotion," he said. "If you have a cat and then see one out, it brings back that warm feeling of home. I also feel people are excited because they know to date we've been able to utilize the money from the sales in our webstore towards helping organizations that help the feral, community, or bodega cat population. We’ve also been able to find other effective ways of helping by donating social posts (tweets, stories, feed posts, etc) which can help raise awareness for positive organizations."