Thousands of New Yorkers follow @bodegacatsofinstagram, others contribute to the hashtag #bodegacats, and newcomer @brooklynbodegacats is an artful twist on the topic. It’s no secret, we love our shop cats for many reasons. It can be hard as an animal lover not to worry about the welfare of some cats, as I have seen more than a few looking rather thin in my day, and still more too chubby. One wonders what would happen in the off-chance that such a business would close. Sometimes, like last week, the question is answered, and this time it wasn’t pretty.
Dirty Cat (aka “Dirty Gaga”) has previously appeared on the pages of Bowery Boogie, and he was always one of my favorite shop cats. A boisterous, goofy, slightly skittish lil dude, I was treated to a loud greeting and some very enthusiastic head-butts every time I’d walk by with my pup. About ten days ago I was told that the shop he was at (a food distributor on Ludlow) was closing, and given assurances that he would be cared for, if not going with them to the new location.
Life is funny sometimes, and as the small band of workers I’d walk by every day for four years loaded up their goods into trucks for the last time, they pled with me for a date. I laughed it off when I should have parlayed that into a solid inquiry about the future of the cat. As any woman can tell you, your mind is only thinking of how to get away when that conversation happens.
“D’Orro” and “Goldie” were some more of his pet names from residents of the block. Walking the same route two days later was a filled with sadness when I heard that familiar meow, this time full of terror, as Goldie the cat was clearly left behind.
He had taken up residence in a crack merely six inches wide between two Ludlow Street buildings, and was too scared to even poke his head out in the daytime. My boyfriend Andy and I spent two nights trying to trap this lil dude, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Ron Castellano, local cat-tivist and restaurateur/developer. Ron has a reputation for helping get strays to safety and a future home, and he helped us set up a humane trap to snag D’Orro and facilitated his treatment at Cooper Square Veterinary Hospital. He’s also fostering the cat for the time being, and I am so grateful that people like Ron give an eff about these little guys.