In a ranch house on a dirt road roughly northwest of Phoenix, just past where my phone’s GPS says, “Screw it,” and sends me off in random directions, dwells a feline recently interwoven with the very fabric of the internet. Grumpy Cat is about as famous as a cat could get, and frankly, she couldn’t care less. My life is busy right now, but some chances you’ve just got to take. So, a couple weeks ago, when the chance came to interview Grumpy Cat, and her owner, Tabatha, I jumped on it.
The first time I saw Grumpy Cat, she was beating a derpy retreat from me across the floor, only to be scooped up by Tabatha, and deposited into my lap. Grumpy Cat is an ungainly creature, with legs too short for even her tiny body, and the back pair set at an odd angle. While her bowleggedness affects her movement, she is still a healthy cat, according to the vet. Apparently her older brother, Pokey, also had trouble moving around at first, but eventually grew into it, and now does normal cat things, such as jumping and running, though he still is not quite what a person could call graceful. He’s a little less friendly than his sister, and heads off after checking me out.
So what’s going on, anyway, with these cats? Why does Grumpy Cat look so gosh darned odd? Well, there are various diseases and birth defects which could be responsible for Grumpy Cat’s stature. Her frown may simply be intrinsic, made more obvious by her unusually short face. There are a few possibilities. The original assumption, back when Pokey was born, was that the weird stature was due to his mother nearly dying while pregnant with that litter.
Tabatha found her one day, unable to move, and took her inside, wrapped her in a towel, and poured water into her mouth. She expected the cat to die, but she hung on, and after a couple days could keep tuna juice down. Sometime later, she managed to make a complete recovery, but Pokey came out a little weird.
So when the first little oddball emerged, Tabatha just assumed that he was affected by whatever poison or disease the mother had had. To everyone’s surprise, the next litter contained Grumpy Cat. Tabatha’s daughter loved the little kitten, and so they decided to keep her. Originally named Tardar Sauce by her daughter, Tabatha decided that Tard would operate under a stage name in the wider world, to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, and so Grumpy Cat became the official moniker of the brand.
If you’ve been trying to place what she reminds you of. . .
The genetic possibilities are intriguing. Pokey and Grumpy Cat share many of the same traits, physically, although the older brother is far more coordinated and capable. Since Pokey is male and Grumpy Cat is female, that eliminates most sex-linked traits. They are also from different litters, which contained several completely normal kittens, and have different fathers, suggesting that whatever’s going on there has something to do with the mom, who is a rather pretty calico, further complicating things. Dwarfism and various neurological afflictions could also be at the root of Grumpy Cat’s odd physical construction.
I met Grumpy Cat’s dad while we were talking out in the yard. He is a true beast of a cat. A tabby cat with gray striping and a white belly, he is a semi-wild battle-scarred veteran of the desert, but friendly enough to let me pet him after some leery sniffing of hands. His body is a criss-cross of scars, some new, some old. Not surprising given the coyotes, owls, hawks, bobcats, and eagles who also make the Sonora their home, it takes a real survivor to stay in one piece.
This interview was a difficult one. Not because Tabatha and her family weren’t happy to talk, but because it’s hard to focus and ask intelligent questions with Grumpy Kitty and her older brother, Pokey, in gamboling about. And Grumpy Cat is actually quite friendly, happy to recline on her back in my lap and let me tickle her tummy. She may be sweet, but she doesn’t just look annoyed; she has a grumpy little meow, too. Tabatha explained how the Grumpy Cat phenomena came to be, more or less.
I think cats are awesome, so of course I think Grumpy Cat is a cutie :) I had to laugh because she does look a little like Archie Bunker! I'm glad she has a sweet demeanor...not like my crazy cat, Cybil. Great interview, and I'm glad you got some exposure from it.
What a great write up on Tardar Sauce, Pokey, and company. You did a great job answering some of those questions that no one else has asked. It seems as if the only thing anyone wanted to report was that Tard is a real cat. Thank you for doing something different.
Thanks for telling us more about Tard and her family. I didn't know Pokey was older and from a different litter. I also didn't know their family is smaller than I thought. (You know how sometimes you create a mental idea of how something is, to find out its different...?) I'm glad Tard isn't going to be bred and the mom recommends adopting from shelters...but I wish she'd get her other two kitties, the calico mom & the dad cat fixed... (It really helps cats live longer & more healthy lives.)
Hey Connor, Just checked out your site and left you a review on alexa, nicely written post! Good Day!
Loved your writeup! The reason I like Grumpy Cat is that she reminds me of a feline Archie Bunker which I think a lot of us can relate to.
Great article, I cannot wait to buy the plushy Grumpy Cat! It is nice to know that hopefully the family are getting some well deserved revenue, especially how hard Tabatha has worked to keep those cats happy.
I really enjoyed reading your blog about visiting Grumpy Cat--my current obsession! : ) Nicely done!!!
Love this article -- so very informative about the enigmatic kitty! Do you think they need professional photos of GC....? I can swing by! :-D
Hi Connor Loved reading about Tard and her brother. Just fell in love with Tards face, makes me smile. Not sure if your heard about the cat breed Munchins, reminded me of them when you was describing Tard. The mother can have normal kittens in the same litter. Not sure if I am supposed to put links in here or not but here goes http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=294779300630502&set=a.293914074050358.62320.251174031657696&type=1&theater That is a link on facebook for a Munchkin. Cheers
I got Grumpy Cat cards once. They were awesome! ;-p Thank you for the report! Wouldn't it be neat if the Grumpy & Pokey plushies purred when cuddled? :-)
Thanks for giving us a bit more insight into Tard's family. Sounds like having an adorable Internet sensation couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch! And you did a good job of describing them without being too intrusive or "revealing," if you know what I mean. And I concur with Helen's comment--thanks for leaving the hammy jokes behind.
Great article! She really IS a bit of enigma. I hope she (as a meme) never goes away. My friends on FB love my "shares" of her and I constantly redirect them to GC's page. Thanks for a job well done!
Very nice article. Thanks for the genuine feelings and telling more about Tard's humans. I have followed her since her very first reddit post, and I am glad to see a not-trying-to-be-funny article!
Thank you! I was rather disappointed in Tard's appearance on Today b/c I had so many unanswered questions, and you took care of most of them I LOVE her and will be buying a plush if they make them.