CALIFORNIA — The owners of the online phenomenon Grumpy Cat announced that the feline has died.
In a post on Friday, the family stated that Grumpy recently developed a urinary tract infection “that unfortunately became too tough for her to overcome.” She died early Tuesday, May 14, at her home.
“Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world – even when times were tough. Her spirit will continue to live on through her fans everywhere.”
Grumpy Cat, whose dwarfism and underbite give her the permanent frown she’s famous for, became a superstar-turned-merchandising-machine after her owner Tabatha Bundesen first posted pictures of her in 2012.
Users on the platform immediately reacted by posting countless Photoshopped variations on the original, while the photo’s Imgur page reached 1,030,000 views in its first 48 hours. On the same day, the Bundesen family posted video clips of Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, on YouTube, which racked up millions of views.
“It was suggested that the original photo was Photoshopped, so we posted a few videos on YouTube,” the owners said on the official Grumpy Cat website.
Her popularity was sealed by her participation at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. People stood in line for hours to get their pictures taken with her, while she mostly ignored her fans. CNN, among others, called her the festival’s biggest star.
Grumpy Cat became such a cultural phenomenon that she inspired art projects, perfumes, merchandise, Skechers shoes, comics and even a “Grumppuccino” coffee.
She was also the official “spokescat” for Friskies, and appeared on several US TV shows, including Today and Good Morning America.
Last year, US coffee company Grenade was ordered to pay the Bundesens $710,000 for exceeding an agreement to use her image.
At the time of her death, Grumpy Cat had 1.5 million followers on Twitter, 2.4 million on Instagram and 8.5 million on Facebook.