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.

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