Grumpy Cat and her owner said to have netted US$99.5m over past two years

Megan Charpentier and Grumpy Cat in Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. -- PHOTO: LIFETIME
Megan Charpentier and Grumpy Cat in Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. -- PHOTO: LIFETIME

Add "cat owner" to the list of most lucrative jobs you can have.

Grumpy Cat, the Justin Bieber of felines, has netted US$99.5 million over the past two years, British papers Express and the Telegraph said on Sunday. This would mean it made more than actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the Telegraph said.

Its owner, former waitress Tabatha Bundesen refuted this, but has yet to say how much her famous two-year-old cat have earned her.

Earlier reports estimated Grumpy Cat, Ltd is worth seven figures. New York Magazine reported the value of the company at US$1 million (S$1.3 million) in a feature last year. That was before the disgruntled kitty, real name Tardar Sauce, starred in a TV movie - Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the Bundesens have earned "a low-six-figure sum off the cat".

And it all started when one cute photo that Bundesen's brother Bryan posted in September 2012 went viral. Here are five questions you have been wanting to ask about the cat.

1. Why does the cat always look grumpy?

Grumpy Cat, who was born Tardar Sauce on April 4, 2012, has dwarfism and a severe underbite, resulting in her permanent frown.

She's not grumpy at all, her owners say, and loves to be cuddled and rubbed.

She is a mixed breed; but looks to have some Persian, Ragdoll, or Snowshoe in her line, according to her website.

She belongs to Tabatha's daughter, Crystal, who thought that the colour of her fur looked like tartar sauce, but misspelled it.

She has a brother, Pokey, who may benefit from some reflected fame. 

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2. How popular is Grumpy Cat?

After photos and a video posted by Bryan was picked up by Reddit and Buzzfeed, innumerable memes with taglines like "I once had fun, it was awful" proliferated on the Internet.

As of Tuesday morning, Grumpy Cat has seven million followers on Facebook, 523,000 on Instagram and 250,000 on Twitter. Her Youtube channel has half a million subscribers as well.

Pop star Taylor Swift has more than 70 million followers on Facebook, but the cat tops celebrities like model and TV host Tyra Banks, who has 6.4 million followers.

She is mobbed by hundreds of adoring fans at public appearances like product endorsements and book "signings", where her minders stamp a paw print on each book.

3. How does its owner cash in on its popularity?

The profits come from translating that popularity into hot-selling t-shirts, product endorsements, and even a movie deal.

She has:

- Her own brand of iced coffee: Grumppucino

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- A product endorsement deal with Friskies cat food

- A Christmas TV movie on Lifetime channel, Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever, which aired on Nov 29 in the US. It will be airing in Singapore on Dec 21 on Lifetime (StarHub TV Ch 514).

- Two books: Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book, which made the New York Times best-seller list, and The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat

- T-shirts, plush toys, keychains, calendars, and paper dolls sold on Grumpy Cat's website, and Amazon

4. Does Grumpy Cat have an agent?

The marketing genius behind the cat is "Internet meme agent" Ben Lashes (real name Benjamin Clark).

He also represents Keyboard Cat, Nyan Cat (WATCH VIDEO HERE), Scumbag Steve (WATCH VIDEO HERE) and Rebecca Black (WATCH VIDEO HERE).

His career as meme manager started with Keyboard Cat (WATCH VIDEO HERE), which has made its owner Charlie Schmidt nearly US$300,000 richer, Wall Street Journal said last year.

5. Where can I find pictures and videos of the Grumpy Cat?

Try Instagram or this website, which lets you create your own Grumpy Cat memes. Oh, and here's a video of the Grumpy Cat herself.

Selected memes below:

 

A photo posted by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) onApr 4, 2014 at 8:00am PDT

 

A photo posted by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) onApr 4, 2014 at 12:06pm PDT

 

A photo posted by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) onMar 3, 2014 at 7:38am PDT

 

A photo posted by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) onJun 6, 2013 at 12:23pm PDT

chuimin@sph.com.sg