RIP Internet Celebrity Meme Queen Grumpy Cat

Only big news would propel me out of blogging hiatus and this is it. The queen of Internet celebrity cats, Grumpy Cat is dead. Long live the queen.

Grumpy Cat with cat expert and author Layla Morgan Wilde

I’d followed her breathtaking career from the beginning and was fortunate to meet her, her family and manager a few times. I’ll always cherish the memories of snuggling her in my arms and attending her birthday party. She exuded a unique energy unlike any other cat I’ve ever met. I’d call it a goofy Zen. Wise beyond her years, stoic and apologetically herself, she was the kind of bright light that shines intensely but not for long. I never felt she would live to be an old cat of 20 or even 15. Bright luminaries whether two-legged or four live on in words and deeds. Grumpy Cat will live on forever as a cat world icon.

Grumpy Cat with cat expert Layla Morgan Wilde
Grumpy Cat with cat expert and author Layla Morgan Wilde

Ironically, I came across some Grumpy Cat memorabilia this week while packing up my house. I’m glad I didn’t throw them out in my Marie Kondo purge but they are just things. What matters most is the life and global impact of a tiny cat with a big upside down smile or adorable under-bite.

I have an exclusive interview that I never published which I’m mulling over what to do with now.

Like most celebrity cats, Grumpy Cat had humble roots with a twist of fate.  Originally named Tardar Sauce, the runt of her litter born on April 4, 2012 in Arizona. It’s a mystery why she appeared to have the markings of the Snowshoe breed when her mom was a Calico and her dad, gray tabby. Her less famous litter mate and best feline friend, Pokey is a tuxedo.  The siblings were adopted by single mom Tabatha Bundesen.  Six months later their lives changed when Tabatha’s brother, Bryan Bundeson posted a pic of Grumpy on Reddit and catapulted her to superstardom.

Grumpy Cat not only amassed a huge following across every online platform from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to YouTube but starred in films, published best-selling books made countless appearances, became a spokescat for Friskies, licensed products galore and her furry visage immortalized in wax at Madame Tussaud’s. She was not just a cat but a brand valued at over 100 million.

Grumpy Cat’s most famous meme involved the word: NO which tackled every theme imaginable bringing smiles to fans worldwide.

Grumpy Cat No it all book-holidays

From the beginning there were naysayers and talk of exploitation by fans, the press and veterinarians. I have no doubt she was deeply loved by her family but an ethically gray area remains. Money and fame changes people. I’ve worked with many celebrity cats and it’s shocking how easily ethical lines are blurred even with the best intentions. It’s one of the reasons I prefer not to work in this field anymore. Grumpy Cat’s death crystallizes my decision and the blog hiatus continues until further notice.

Celebrity cat culture will continue but it’s the end of an era.  My most indelible memory was seeing Grumpy Cat peeing on one of dozens of fans as she was bandied about like a gunny sack. She was unnaturally limp the first time I held her, and I sensed a feline version of Aspergers which made her passive or unable to respond in typical fashion to stress. Cats are all about fight or flight. When faced with a threat, they take on defensive postures, snarling, hissing, arched backs, claws extended or they simply run away and hide. Have you ever seen Grumpy Cat try to claw someone? Maybe she really was a Buddha cat.

How do you feel about Grumpy Cat?

Grumpy Cat Buddha

When I heard she was euthanized following complications of a urinary infection, I thought pissed off.  She’s had enough and was pissed off.  If so, I say good for you dear Tard for exiting with grace. May you enjoy blue skies and endless freedom. You were loved.

This is our last meme for the cat that inspired a million memes. Clyde helped. FYI, he’s miraculously still alive at 19.5 wishing Grumpy Cat godspeed to the Rainbow Bridge.

21 thoughts on “RIP Internet Celebrity Meme Queen Grumpy Cat”

  1. I always thought she was over exploited and you writing of her peeing on someone and being limp when you held her just proves that.I am sure that her owners started with good intentions but it clearly didn’t stay that way.and now she is gone I am sure there will be plenty of book deals,tv deals and who know a film deal?
    You have it right Layla,enjoy your life and forget the rubbish,xx Rachel and Speedy

  2. Dear Dear Grumpy Cat run free little soul, no more days of performing, no more days of not being able to say NO. We are so very sorry to hear of your passing but are glad that you no longer have to endure the oft times harsh life of a Celeb.
    We love you and always will dear one. Rest in the sunshine of peace.
    Luvs
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo & the Angels >^..^^..^<~
    PS we have been so busy with our own kitty health issues that we were not even aware of our dear little one's passing.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful words as always. I’m so sorry to hear about your kitty health issues and will send our strongest purrs for healing xoxo

  3. We’re very sad to learn of Tardar’s passing. She was s special cat, who brought so much enjoyment to so many all over the world. But it must have been tough for her to deal with everything at times she was not feeling well or up to it. Fly free, indeed, Grumpy Cat.

    Clyde, you did a great job helping with that meme. We love you lots, pal, and send love and hugs to you and your family.

  4. Thank you for this lovely tribute to a funny, sweet, grumpy girl! She will be missed by so many. I too hope she had a wonderful spoiled life. She deserved it. Imagine being handled by so many strangers! My cat would NOT have it! 🙂

  5. I am sad to hear that Grumpy Cat has gone to The Rainbow Bridge. But knowing that she had been sick, I am comforted in a way that she is no longer suffering.

    I think her human family did the right thing by letting her go. It the most difficult decision any pet-parent will make, but it is also the most compassionate one. Our pets are part of our family. We must not LET them suffer.

    Grumpy Cat was loved and will not be forgotten.

    1. Need correct a typo in my post…

      “Our pets are part of our family. We MUST NOT let them suffer.”

  6. Thank you Layla and thank you Grumpy Cat ? We are all here but for a short time only

  7. It was good to hear from you even if the topic is such a sad one. We all love Grumpy Cat here and will miss hearing about her. Mom is wearing her Grumpy Cat T-shirt as she types. We think being a famous cat must be sort of hard. We don’t like strangers and hate traveling 15 minutes to the vet so we can’t imagine enjoying the life of a celeberity cat. The dogs on the other hand would love the attention and the travel.

  8. I was quite shocked to see this news. She was so young, and it is quite saddening to think that her flame has burnt out so soon. I hope, as I would for any fine feline, that her memory will live on, for a long long time, and in a positive way. This was a nice post, and we loved the first picture of you both together, and no matter what may happen next, it is a lovely memory to have. Clearly she had her own way of dealing with life, and I do hope she was never exploited and had all she needed, right up to the end.
    ERin
    PS, when the time is right it would be lovely to read the interview you had….. maybe that would be well placed in your memoirs?

  9. I was very sad to learn of Tardar’s passing but with her medical issues, I never thought she would be with us long – I have very mixed feelings about celebrity kitties. Having had a number of cats in my long life I’ve always felt they are at their best when allowed to do what THEY want to do, not us. A life of being in the spotlight and handled constantly and flashing lights and loud voices must be a little bit disorienting. She handled it (or seemed to) with grace and patience. I’m just happy she’s flying FREE now….the Angel she has ALWAYS been. I’m sure you picked up the vibe when you were with her Layla – that’s one of your many talents. Nice to hear from you!

    Hugs, Pam (and Teddy)

  10. I always thought ‘good for her’ as Grumpy /Tardar Sauce brought awareness that cats with disabilities could live and do deserve a good life. I was glad her owners could make money because it also enabled them to afford he best care. It was I agree a double edged sword in that I am sure at times the cat did not feel well and would have preferred a sunny window.
    I will miss this cat, and alway had wished I could have met her. I thought she was adorable, and the ‘NO” memes were so fun.
    Run free Tardar, you were a star loved from afar by so many.

  11. I, too, didn’t think that Tardar, with all her genetic problems, would live very long. But this was too soon.

  12. Oh, I am so sad. I loved Grumpy. We all loved Grumpy. Ched awakened just now. He loved Grumpy.

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