Cats are essential workers. From bodega cats to brewery cats, feline friends help business owners keep rodents at bay and attract new customers. But a Home Depot cat named Leo is putting a New Jersey location of the home improvement store chain on the map — and building a social media following in the process.
Home Depot cat garners TikTok fame
Leo the cat is the feline-in-residence at the Home Depot store in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He was a barn cat before arriving at the store last summer. Customer Jeffrey Simpkins, who goes by @cat_dad_2020 on TikTok, films the furry friend during his shopping trips.
“He has two name tags that say ‘Hello my name is Leo,’ and then the other one says like ‘Mount Laurel Store,’ so he’s registered to the store,” Simpkins told ABC 7 Chicago.
Simpkins is a cat dad himself. In fact, he often shops with his two feline friends, Will and Grace. When he started documenting Leo on TikTok, his social media star began rising. Simpkins estimates that all of the Leo videos on his TikTok account have approximately 50 million views.
Simpkins attributes the Home Depot cat’s popularity to “his unique personality, like he’s friendly, he wears clothing unlike other cats, and he has several places he sleeps at.”
Cat lovers encouraged to do more than just ‘like’ Leo
Leo’s fans appreciate the feline’s outgoing vibe.
“I’m a big cat person, and I love cats so I’m really excited to see him. It’s my first time seeing him in person, and I really love that he wears shirts,” Theo Lythberg of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, told ABC 7 Chicago.
“It is the last week of summer, so we figured let’s go see the cat and make the most of it and see if we can be part of his fan club,” Michelle Lythberg added.
They’re not the only ones fawning over Leo. Home Depot employees take turns caring for the cat, feeding him and taking him to the vet.
But Simpkins isn’t just filming Leo the Cat for social media clout. His hope is that cat lovers will donate to animal shelters in the area – or even better, adopt a cat of their own.