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.
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.
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.
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?
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.