Grumpy Cat Reigns Supreme Among The Internet’s Pet Influencers
When it comes to the most influential pets online, the original still comes out on top.
Many of you will remember the Grumpy Cat phenomenon of 2012. The brother of Tabatha Bundesen, the tiny feline’s owner, posted a picture to Reddit when the now-famous kitty was only a few months old.
Her distinctive face, the result of an underbite and dwarfism, grabbed attention immediately. It ended up on the front page of the Internet aggregator overnight.
“Everyone was saying she was Photoshopped,” Bundesen told Forbes. “So he put a video on YouTube. In 24 hours, she had over a million views. That’s how she became a meme.”
Grumpy Cat tops Forbes’ ranking of Top Pet Influencers, joining a list that includes such Web luminaries as Pomeranian stars Jiff and Boo and precious cats Nala and Lil Bub.
In the years since her early Reddit virality, Grumpy’s Internet fame has taken Bundesen around the world and resulted in partnerships, sponsorships, and merchandise opportunities worth millions of dollars.
She became the official “spokescat” of Friskies pet food in 2013, and Bundesen—aided by Ben Lashes, a talent manager with expertise in the Internet space—has brokered licensing deals with mainstream brands ranging from Hot Topic to Gund.
You can buy Grumpy Cat pet toys, calendars, mugs, t-shirts and acces-
sories; in 2014, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas
Ever hit TV screens nationwide.
“You put a cute, grumpy face out there and people are going to stop what they’re doing and pay attention,” Bundesen said from Arizona, where the famous kitty is based. “I think that’s a huge part of the marketing with Grumpy.”
She shared some advice for pet owners with adorable animals who might want to follow in the footsteps of the Internet’s best-known cat.
“Whatever photos bring you joy are probably going to bring the world joy too,” Bundesen said.
And she thinks the enormous success of pet influencers isn’t a trend, but rather...has legs. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
“I grew up being influenced by Lassie and Garfield,” she said. “Pet influencers can come from nowhere. They can just be plucked from obscurity.” Read on for products your pets will love, as chosen by the “parents” of our Top Pet Influencers.
‘Grumpy Cat’ on the field before the MLB opening day game between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 4, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.