The world undeniably lost an icon when Grumpy Cat, the Internet’s favourite frowny faced feline, passed away earlier this year. She was just seven—and a cat, at that—but her cultural impact was tremendous. Grumpy Cat’s caretakers Tabatha Bundesen, her brother Bryan Bundesen, and her daughter Chrystal Bundesen, announced Grumpy Cat’s passing on May 17th in a heartfelt message addressing the cat’s more than 12.4 million followers.
Grumpy Cat died peacefully at home “in her mommy Tabatha’s arms” from complications from a urinary tract infection that “unfortunately became too tough to overcome,” despite care from top professionals and her loving family.
Grumpy Cat wasn’t actually grumpy. She was born with feline dwarfism, which was responsible for her perma-frown and small size of less than five pounds. She shot to internet stardom in 2012 when Bryan posted a photo of the seemingly unhappy cat to Reddit. In just 48 hours, Bryan’s post had over a million views and parodies were popping up everywhere. Grumpy Cat was born.
“We are unimaginably heartbroken to announce the loss of our beloved Grumpy Cat,” Tabatha and her brother Bryan wrote. “Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world—even when times were tough. Her spirit will continue to live on through her fans everywhere.”
The million views in short order became a million-dollar brand valuation with Grumpy Cat achieving household name recognition. There were endorsement deals (Friskies; a television commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios), talk show appearances (Today; Good Morning America), a Lifetime movie, merchandise, and even a “Grumppuccino” coffee drink.
Tabatha says she “never could have imagined” her cat would become so famous. She says Grumpy Cat, whose original name was Tardar Sauce (Tabatha’s then-young daughter Chrystal spelled the cat’s name), wasn’t grumpy at all, but a sweet cat who never scratched the furniture, loved to be pet between her eyes, and lived happily with her family.
“It’s really awesome just knowing that Grumpy Cat brings smiles to so many faces all around the world,” Tabatha said of her cat.
R.I.P. Grumpy Cat. Your legacy lives on and you will be missed by many.