Street Cats Find Dizengoff Stores the Coolest Refuge

Coby Ben-Simhon
Coby Ben-Simhon
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Coby Ben-Simhon
Coby Ben-Simhon

As she weaves roses into a beautiful flower arrangement, a gray and white cat slinks between her arms. "His name is P.J. - Patron Junior. He's a scrawny cat and a real sweetie with lots of personality," says Ira Schechter in the Flamour flower shop on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street.

"He came here around a year and a half ago and was adopted by the shop owner, who really loves cats. He was very skinny then and decided to stay. Every morning he shows up at exactly eight, when the store opens, and stays until it closes at night. He's already become part of the store."

P.J. is not alone. A walking tour of Dizengoff reveals a bunch of stores that have adopted street cats as pets. "She adopted us," Chen Gorodisky, an owner of the LiLigrace clothing store, says about Michi, laughing.

"She's been with us for four months, came in and stayed right when we opened the store," Gorodisky says while the black cat lounges on a couch in the middle of the shop. "During the day she's with us, and at night she goes to the nearby bar, Armadillo. I think this is her territory and we don't bother her. We just give her a lot of love."

Some people are willing to give their pet cat a lot more. Orna El-Ami, the owner of the Modada clothing store, says Schwartzy, a big black cat dozing in the cradle outside the shop, found refuge there more than eight years ago.

"I recently put the awning up so he would have shade in the afternoon and shelter on rainy days," El-Ami says. "I give him food, but I know that for variety he supplements this from the garbage bins. Whenever customers come in I ask if the cat is a problem; if they have allergies or a phobia."

So does Schwartzy help boost sales?

"There are a lot of people who buy thanks to him," El-Ami says. "I think he adds a good aura to the store. People understand that the owner likes animals, and undoubtedly this is something beneficial in the interaction."

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