Tardar Sauce, better known as internet celebrity “Grumpy Cat,” has died at the age of 7 from a urinary tract infection.
The famously deformed feline (whose grumpy appearance was reportedly caused by feline dwarfism), quickly went viral after her photo was posted on Reddit, six years ago. The cat proved to have remarkable staying power, benefitting from the endless free marketing provided by memes.
It’s no secret that the internet loves cats, as well as joking-not-joking about clinical depression; really, the frowny-faced creature was practically destined for stardom.
For a cat with an adorable deformity, she was extraordinarily successful, more so than many celebrities; her likeness appeared on nearly 900 items in an official shop, and she became the (grumpy) face of Friskies, a cat food brand. In 2014, Grumpy Cat even starred in a Lifetime movie, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, where she was voiced by Aubrey Plaza.
Grumpy Cat was rather like the real-life incarnation of Garfield, whose entire appeal rests on being a cat who dislikes Mondays (despite not having a job). The Garfield brand has permeated every conceivable merchandising and media niche, and the fictional feline (perhaps inevitably) paired up with his grumpy counterpart in a book series.
It’s unclear why the combination of cats and existential despair is so insanely profitable, but Grumpy Cat generated a tremendous amount of cash. Estimates ranged on how much Grumpy Cat was worth, exactly, though owner Tabatha Bundesen disputed a 2014 report that the cat had earned her $100 million.
In 2015, Grumpy Cat Limited, the company representing the sour-faced feline, filed a copyright infringement suit against a coffee company which used Grumpy Cat’s likeness to sell a drink called the “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino,” which won Grumpy Cat Limited $710,000 in 2018.
Like Harambe the gorilla, Grumpy Cat will always be remembered, immortalized by millions of meme-creators who found her unhappy face both adorable, and relatable.