Two months ago, Kelly Nugent traveled from Florida to New York to care for her dad. And she brought someone along with her to help — her cat, Sweet Potato.
Nugent’s father was receiving treatment for bone marrow cancer, and she wanted to be close to him. “He started having a really hard time getting around and doing things and pretty much needed 24-hour care while he was healing,” Nugent told The Dodo. “My dad is my best friend, and I realized I just had to be there with him.”
Her 2-year-old cat isn’t a licensed therapy animal — but he’s the next best thing.
“He’s the sweetest cat on the earth,” Nugent said. “He just loves everybody and wants to be around people. He has that dog-like personality.”
While Nugent’s dad loves animals, he considers himself more of a dog person. He’d never owned a cat and didn’t think of them as particularly loving or supportive animals. But Sweet Potato made sure to change all that.
“As soon as we got there and Sweet Potato acclimated, he became a madman for my dad,” Nugent said. “He would not leave his side, and still, to this day, they’re just attached at the hip.”
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♬ Just the Two of Us – Grover Washington, Jr.
“It’s just the sweetest thing you could ever see because I know [Sweet Potato] can sense something’s wrong and that he’s needed,” Nugent added. “So he kind of just stepped up to the plate and was like, ‘This is my job now. I’m gonna help heal you.’ It’s like he knew.”
In the two months since Nugent and Sweet Potato arrived, the cat and her dad have become inseparable and do everything together.
“So my dad has a recliner that he sits in and he’ll put his arm on the recliner, and every single time, without fail, Sweet Potato will jump up and sit in the little cove in his arm and cuddle with him,” Nugent said. “He’ll sleep in his bed or in his room. Whenever my dad’s computer, [Sweet Potato will] jump on his keyboard. Whenever my dad is sitting at the table to do some of his paperwork, Sweet Potato will sit on the paperwork. He just has to be on top of him.”
Nugent started posting videos of Sweet Potato and her dad on TikTok, and the sweet films have found a large audience. “When I read him all the comments, it was so cool to him that so many random people were rooting for him,” Nugent said.
But Nugent and her dad’s favorite joke is that he and Sweet Potato are basically twins. “My favorite part is that so many people say they look alike,” Nugent said. “Sweet Potato has a little white mustache, and my dad has a white mustache … and it makes us laugh so hard.”
Since nurse Sweet Potato took over, Nugent’s dad’s health has greatly improved. And she can’t help but think her cat has had something to do with it.
“I really think the emotional support of Sweet Potato and the cuddles and just being there — it’s had a huge impact on him,” she said.
To learn more about Sweet Potato, you can follow his adventures on TikTok.
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