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Monday, April 21, 2014
Grumpy Cat
World-famous scowling cat shows us that it's OK to be different

Watch out, Grumpy Cat has entered her terrible twos. Perhaps the most famous cat in the world — known for her downward smile that gives her a constant grumpy expression — spent her birthday touring New York City with an entourage worthy of a Hollywood movie star. And Hollywood is where the funny-looking cat is heading, with a movie project in the works to add to her pile of endorsements and licensing deals that include her scowling face on limited-edition bags of Friskies Party Mix pet treats and her own line of "Grumppuccino" bottled coffee drinks.

So who will provide the movie voice for the cat that people love to caption on popular Internet memes? Grumpy's not saying, and nor are her humans, the brother-sister team of Tabatha and Bryan Bundesen.

With her own agent, YouTube videos that have racked up millions of hits, T-shirts, calendars and a best-selling book available in 14 languages, exactly how much is this cat worth? "The business is doing very well," Bryan laughed. "Grumpy doesn't like to discuss specifics."

Her humans, to be sure, are more than a little grateful for all this popularity and financial success. "We both were blue-collar people," Bryan said — he was a cable company lineman in the U.S. state of Ohio while Tabatha was a server at a restaurant near her home in Morristown in Arizona. "It has changed our lives. It has been a blessing. We're very thankful for it."

The cat's real name is Tardar Sauce, so dubbed (and misspelled) by Tabatha's now 12-year-old daughter, Chyrstal, soon after their female pet cat gave birth to her and three siblings. Grumpy Cat was tiny when she was born and is still petite. The cat has feline dwarfism and wobbles a bit when she walks due to elongated rear legs. However, this seems to have only added to her popularity.

"She looks like a Snowshoe Siamese is what we're told most," Bryan offered. "We've had some nice comments from people about it being good that the spotlight's on a cat that's unique and has feline dwarfism. A lot of people are happy that it kind of spreads the message that it's OK to be different. She's also such a happy cat."

Despite her name, Grumpy is usually cheerful and extremely chilled out, with a reputation for falling asleep during interviews and seeking out dark corners to hide in. If it hadn't been for Bryan putting photos of her on popular website Reddit in late 2012, and then following up with videos after their authenticity was questioned, Tardar Sauce might never have become a phenomenon. "People said her face was Photoshopped," Bryan said, so they took to YouTube to prove otherwise, earning about 1.5 million views overnight.

Now, Grumpy Cat's YouTube channel has over 25 million views and 200,000 subscribers. While Grumpy Cat has cashed in on her Internet stardom, the field is far more crowded today. So, are there any up-and-comers that she has her eye on? "There are a lot of cats on the Internet, but there's no competition," a good-natured Bryan said. "She has the grumpy market cornered. All the other cats can have the happy, funny stuff."

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