Meet the TikTok-Famous Cat Living in a Mount Laurel Home Depot
Leo naps in a shopping cart, has a tiny t-shirt collection, and has stolen our hearts.
Amid the aisles of tools, building materials and hardware supplies, an adventurous little cat is walking around like he owns the place. Wearing one of his many colorful t-shirts, Leo the cat has turned a Home Depot in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, into his personal playground — and his home.
Leo became somewhat of a local TikTok celebrity thanks to his appearances on Jeff Simpkins’s account this summer. That “cat dad” is not Leo’s caretaker — that self-designation is thanks to Simpkins’s own cats, Will and Grace. But once Simpkins shared Leo’s elaborate setup and outgoing spirit with his 358,000 followers, a star was born.
@cat_dad_2020 We love visiting Leo at Home Depot #catdad2020 #catsoftiktok ♬ original sound – 🐱❤️Jeff (cat_dad_2020)❤️
“Customers come in the store every five minutes looking for him,” says John Vazquez, store manager. Visitors often bring treats or gifts for Leo, including some more t-shirts for his collection.
(Though Simpkins set up an Amazon wishlist for Leo and his own cats, and some of Leo’s online admirers have sent gifts through that list, Vazquez tells us that Leo has more than enough, and that he hopes that well-meaning cat-lovers will instead donate food to local animal shelters.)
Originally a barn cat, Leo was adopted by the staff at Home Depot from a local shelter in the summer of 2022. He was a perfect fit for the home-improvement store that spans over 100,000 square feet and includes an outdoor garden center in which Leo can roam.
“He was used to living in large environments, outside at times, and being in a home wasn’t really going to work for him,” Vazquez explains. “He was a skinny little thing when he came in,” he recalls.
Three of the store’s associates share in Leo’s caretaking, including feeding him, taking him to the vet, and making sure he’s happy and healthy. And stylish.
And Leo loves the attention: “He doesn’t want to be left out of things, so if you have a team gathering after hours or before store opens, he always makes an appearance,” explains Vazquez. Leo begins his days doing a “lap” as the store is opening and makes sure to walk by the staff’s morning meetings before he takes to the aisles.
In addition to his nook that includes a cozy bed, food, a cat tree, and stairs for exercise (he likes to climb them to perch on the top shelf), Leo also has a little “mobile bed” shopping cart.
@cat_dad_2020 Leo is fed well at Home Depot 🐱#catdad2020 #homedepot #catsoftiktok ♬ original sound – 🐱❤️Jeff (cat_dad_2020)❤️
Leo also prowls around the garden center looking for mice and sleeps there when it’s nice out. (There’s always someone in the store with him, even after hours.)
@cat_dad_2020 Leo’s nightly routine 🐱@The Home Depot #catdad2020 #catsoftiktok #homedepot ♬ original sound – 🐱❤️Jeff (cat_dad_2020)❤️
And, of course, Leo loves his visitors and is very playful and friendly with them. “Most of the cats I’ve known are introverted,” says Vazquez. “He’s very outgoing. He likes people — he almost wants to show off for people when they’re around. He’s just one of a kind.”