A clueless Yelper earned the internet’s wrath this week after giving an East Village deli a one-star review purely on the basis of its bodega cat. Thankfully, “Diana D.” quickly learned the error of her ways (the post has vanished), but as happens anytime something threatens this age-old New York institution, people aren’t just up in arms about how anybody could hate a creature “as sacred as an Egyptian temple cat”; they’re also confused about why, on a pure health-code level, bodega cats have to be illegal in the first place.
A Change.org petition challenging the Department of Health’s feline discrimination wants to take the matter straight to Bill de Blasio. Called simply “Having cats in bodegas,” it wonders why it’s cool for big, hairy dogs to go hang out on restaurant patios, where the food’s spread out all vulnerably on plates, but puny little cats can’t nap on a bunch of airtight potato-chip bags in a deli?
The petition hasn’t even been up for 24 hours yet, already has almost 500 supporters, and reads in its entirety:
As a long time New Yorker i grew up seeing cats inside of bodegas. I would like to see it made legal to have cats in a bodega in New York city. Cats keep rodents out of food products and keep other pests at bay. You don’t want to see fecel matter from rodents in a bodega right? I don’t either. How can people find it acceptable to bring a dog into a restaurant where there is food that isn’t wrapped being brought out and about.. Like.. Who wants dog dander and hair flying around their steak when they go to eat it? The fact that cats are not legal in bodegas but dogs are legal in restaurants is a complete joke. Allow cats in bodega and keep dogs out of restaurants.
It might not get the hoped-for response from the mayor, but good news is that, either way, “Star,” the cat from the Yelp review, isn’t going anywhere. Byung Seo, owner of S.K. Deli Market, the bodega at the center of the controversy, tells the Daily News she’s a bona fide member of his family, and he’ll gladly continue paying the few-hundred-dollar DOH fine to keep her in and all of the assorted vermin out.