There are a lot of iconic things about New York City, from the Statue of Liberty to the yellow taxi cabs. But to real New Yorkers, the most beloved fixture of city life might be the bodega cat.
Go to any corner convenience store in NYC and you’re likely to see one of these friendly cats, who sometimes help with pest control by catching mice, but often just relax and bask in the love of local patrons.
So when one bodega cat was stolen in Brooklyn recently, an outraged community rallied to bring him home — and now, thankfully, the cat has been returned safe and sound.
Abdul Majeed is the part owner of Green Olives Deli & Grill in Park Slope, Brooklyn. In January, he adopted a two-week-old kitten named Boka, who quickly became a fixture of the store.
Locals would come in just to see Boka, and he became known as the neighborhood cat.
“It’d be like ‘Oh you wanna get coffee and see Boka?’ You know, that was just routine,” customer Annie Caltrider told NBC New York.
“He became part of our routine and part of our family,” local Annie Caltrider told CBS News. “If we were in a bad mood, we’d come see the cat.”
“He was so friendly and everything he does was so funny,” said co-owner Abdulmajeed Albahri.
But in an instant, Boka was suddenly gone, leaving both the store owners and the community devastated.
Surveillance footage caught the moment a man in khakis and a white t-shirt walk past the store and grab Boka, stealing him from the shop.
“If someone loves cats, he can go and adopt a cat,” Abdul told NBC New York. “He cannot steal somebody else’s.”
The owners contacted the police and offered a cash reward — and locals who viewed Boka as their own pet quickly joined in the search.
They placed flyers all over the neighborhood, and video of the cat-napping was spread on social media, with the hopes that the thief would be tracked down.
“I was appalled. It was insane to me that he just came by and scooped him up and left,” Park Slope resident Abby Strobel told CBS News. “I’ve known this cat since he was, like, a little baby. I’ve seen him grow up.”
“I just need to know my cat is well, healthy,” Albahri told ABC 7. “If he brings my cat back, unharmed, I’m not going to press charges.”
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. On August 5, the owners announced on Boka’s Instagram page that the cat had been returned safe and sound. “BOKA IS BACK,” they wrote
The owners thanked everyone who helped spread the word about Boka and helped bring him home.
“Thanks for everyone who helped & shared the story,” the caption reads. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”
It isn’t clear how Boka returned home or if any charges will be made against the man who took him. But the important thing is that this beloved bodega cat is home safe — and is back at work, greeting customers at the bodega:
We’re so glad Boka has made it home safe and sound! Bodega cats mean so much to their neighborhoods, and it’s inspiring to see all these people looking out for Boka.
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