Grumpy Cat is becoming a cash cow

The frowning feline is spawning an industry for its owners after a video of the pet went viral last year.

By Bruce Kennedy Sep 24, 2013 11:35AM

Grumpy Cat (© Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images)Here's a get-rich scheme few people envisioned in the not-too-distant past: Put a cute picture or video of your pet on the Internet, then sit back and watch the money roll in.


Of course, it doesn't happen to just any Tom, Dick or Hairy animal. But we can all dream of someday achieving the success currently surrounding Tardar Sauce, aka Grumpy Cat. The tiny feline is owned by Tabatha Bundesen, who lives outside of Phoenix. Tabatha's brother Bryan posted a short video of Grumpy Cat in action last year -- that is, scowling at the camera -- and the rest is viral history.


More than 1.5 million people watched the inaugural Grumpy Cat video during its first 16 hours on YouTube, and that video has garnered more than 13 million views. The frowning feline's image sped across the Web, complete with a variety of user-generated captions, generating enough interest that the house cat has become a house industry.


Spurred on by cat-crazy fans, the Bundesens got Grumpy Cat a Los Angeles agent. They released a line of Grumpy Cat cards last Christmas that saw modest success. But things really began to take off earlier this year with the production and publication of a Grumpy Cat book.


"Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book: Disgruntled Tips and Activities Designed to Put a Frown on Your Face" was released in July and has become a New York Times bestseller. It's currently in its sixth printing and, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, has been published in eight languages.


You can also buy Grumpy Cat T-shirts and other paraphernalia, and over the summer a Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino line of coffee drinks was launched. But all that pales next to the just-signed deal with Friskies Cat Food from Purina, which is part of Nestle (NSRGY), making Grumpy Cat its new spokes-pet.


"Friskies is always looking for new ways to celebrate playtime for cats and their owners through online content," Shawn Brain, a Friskies brand manager, said in a statement to the Phoenix Business Journal. "Signing on Grumpy Cat for a longer-term relationship allows Friskies to work with one of the biggest stars in the space. It's a win-win for everyone -- especially people who love watching cat videos and cat owners who love experiencing a variety of online cat content."


Regarding exactly how much everyone is making on this deal, the Bundesens are being coy. The Grumpy Cat has their tongue, perhaps? But Bryan says they've applied for trademarks of both the Grumpy Cat image and name.


"We'd really like it to become one of the brands that sticks around," he told the Journal. "We'd like Grumpy Cat to attain the staying power of Garfield."


More on moneyNOW

46Comments
Sep 24, 2013 2:38PM
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Good for them !!! Nice to see good luck come someone's way !
Sep 24, 2013 4:06PM
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I saw his t-shirt in Myrtle Beach.  It said:  I had fun once - it was awful.  My husband and I laughed so hard.  What a face! 
Sep 24, 2013 3:30PM
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How can you write an article about how an animal is a "cash cow" and not state how much money the owner has made from it?
Sep 24, 2013 3:55PM
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I saw a Grumpy Cat 2014 calendar at the mall.....it was terrible.
Sep 24, 2013 4:04PM
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Congrats to them, but why not say "CASH CAT" instead of "Cash Cow"?  All pussies deserve attention, whether grumpy or happy (depends on the viewing angle)!!
Sep 24, 2013 4:54PM
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I love Grumpy Cat - Your so lucky to have her.  If she was mine I'd be so happy and laughing all the time.
Sep 24, 2013 4:11PM
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I have "angry  cat"; she is a siamese mix.  Her facial coloring makes her look like she has a schowl on her face all the time.  But she is a sweetie; her name is Tweety Pie.  Maybe I should take her picture??  No-no, I would never interrupt her quite country life for the bright lights............she might get mad at me...........................
Sep 24, 2013 6:22PM
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I love the grumpy cat. I own two grumpy cat shirts I just wonder if the cat is getting any of the money. I mean the cats doing all the work for cats sake. I hope he's at least getting to eat the finest premium cat food. Better yet he should be eating at the finest seafood dive in town.
Sep 24, 2013 5:12PM
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Love Grumpy Cat.  Use him as a meme all the time.  And on the weekend when I miss work, I just look at his face and it reminds me of my boss and how short the weekend really is!
Sep 24, 2013 4:20PM
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I've seen some funny Grumpy Cat things, but I really don't see it having the longevity of Garfield...not bashing a person having aspirations tho...just my opinion :)
Sep 25, 2013 9:15AM
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I saw the couple on T.V. with Tarter Sauce, and they said that some of the proceeds were going to cat charities.  Good for them. 
Sep 24, 2013 4:12PM
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I love Grumpy Cat, but Bonky Bonky Bonk the worlds cutest kitten is still my favorite.
Sep 24, 2013 4:09PM
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We'll see if money can buy Grumpy Cat happiness.  Oh goodness, who am I kidding.  Grumpy Cat won't see a dime.  Just don't produce a VH1 "Where are they now?" episode.  The idea was stolen and in pre-production as soon as this posted.
Sep 24, 2013 7:06PM
Sep 24, 2013 6:59PM
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A face only a mother could love...
Sep 24, 2013 6:39PM
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My dog looks exactly like Gizmo from the Gremlins.  Anybody interested?  Anybody?
Sep 25, 2013 8:22AM
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I LOVE GRUMP THE CAT.  SHE IS THE CUTEST CAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. I BOUGHT HER TEE SHIRT WHICH STATED "I HAD FUN ONCE IT WAS AWFUL" AND A COFFEE CUP "MONDAYS-I HAVE THEM."  WHAT IS WRONG WITH HAVING SOMETHING GOOD ON THE INTERNET. I AM TIRED OF SEEING DEPRESSING ARTICLES ABOUT SHOOTINGS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY JUST ABOUT EVERYDAY! 
Sep 24, 2013 6:45PM
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Who said this cat will not have longevity. Did you read where Friskies is making this cat it's new cat on their products.  I would say this is longevity.  Lucky owners. Great cat.



Sep 24, 2013 4:51PM
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You can also get advertisers for your viral video (yes, ads are a pain in the butt...but...they make the owners of the videos lots of moolah). The 'Charlie Bit My Finger' video is finally paying off for the parents (and kids). After garnering tons of views someone told the parents to get advertising signed up on it. They made $500,000 in just a few months!!  My husband took an amazing video, early one morning, of a squirrel playing with a number of balls we had in the backyard for our grandkids to play with. The squirrel was jumping on them, doing somersaults and pushing them around and having a blast. Hubby put the video up on youtube.com-but it never went viral; we don't know how to do that.  It is really an amazing 2-3 minutes.  Wish it could go viral with some ads---being retired on a fixed income, the money would be very welcomed!!
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