Grumpy Cat Is Not Impressed by TIME’s Photo Shoot

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Grumpy Cat visited TIME, and it was awful. Actually, that’s far from true — though the adorable mixed-breed cat was enduring an exhaustive daylong romp through the New York City media circuit, it seems as though she rather enjoyed herself.

The Internet celebrity known as Grumpy Cat pounced on TIME’s Manhattan office Friday, toting with her an entourage larger than that of many celebrities. The brown-and-white kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, arrived flanked by owner Tabatha Bundesen and her brother Bryan Bundesen, the man responsible for Grumpy Cat’s viral fame. The 11-month-old cat leaped to fame when Bryan posted a photo of the frowning feline to Reddit in September 2012 while visiting his sister in Arizona.

(MORE: And the Catuette Goes To: ‘The Friskies’ Awards Best Cat Videos of the Year)

And it’s not hard to see Grumpy Cat’s appeal: her beaming blue eyes, shining coat, diminutive stature and of course, her permanent frown — due to a form of feline dwarfism — has clearly made her stand out among the Web’s most popular felines.

Since then, Grumpy Cat has inspired numerous memes (or “copy cats”), her YouTube video has racked up more than 7.7 million views, and she has appeared on national television, from The Today Show to Good Morning America. (As expected, after these early-morning visits, photos of her famous frowning face have been accompanied by bubble text explaining, “Not a morning person.”) Earlier this month, more than 600 people — including celebrities like musician Andrew W. K. and Ian Somerhalder of Lost fame — lined up to pose with the purse-lipped feline at South by Southwest in Austin.

Hers is the face that has launched a thousand memes. So when Grumpy Cat reached TIME’s headquarters in the middle of a long day promoting Friskies’ Web series “Will Kitty Play with It?” it was only logical that we wanted her to pose with some of our favorite animal-centric covers. In 1981, TIME ran a cover story titled “Cats: Love ’Em, Hate ’Em,” featuring a snowy white house cat on the cover, looking just the slightest bit grumpy. We wondered if the cover could cheer up Grumpy Cat — after all, she could be a cover model one day soon. Even the pug from TIME’s 2010 cover story “What Animals Think” did little to perk up Tardar Sauce. In the end, Grumpy Cat just wanted to pose for pictures and cuddle with our editors.

cat hold

Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

“She’s cool with the fame,” says owner Tabatha, a waitress at Red Lobster, which gave her a monthlong leave from her job to hit the road with Grumpy Cat. “I think she was actually excited to come to NY this time. I was packing my bags and she came to my room. Normally doesn’t hang out in my room, but she was sniffing at my bag and looking at me like, You’re taking me right?” Little did Tardar Sauce know, she was the reason for the trip.

(MORE: And the Winner of the Internet Cat-Video Film Festival Is …)

When Tardar Sauce is not on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, she likes to sunbathe, take catnaps and play with her brother Pokey — who also has feline dwarfism. With such a tough life, we wondered if Grumpy Cat’s name reflects her personality. Not so, Tabatha revealed; Pokey is actually the grumpiest of the two. “Grumpy is happy,” she notes.

And there’s something about her perpetual frown that makes everyone smile — TIME editors included. And the sour humor might even be good for our health. Bryan related a story he heard about Grumpy Cat’s healing powers: “There’s a lady we met in Texas who said she made Grumpy Cat a part of her cancer treatment. Every morning before she went to her chemotherapy, she would flip through pictures of Grumpy Cat, and it would help her get through it. And she’s in remission now.”

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME
25 comments
cindermaker
cindermaker

People getting angry about this photography shoot are odd, it's  just another sort of weird, misplaced Internet based anger that spawns from nothing at all. This isn't a copy or a direct plagiarism, if you think it is, you should look it up. Get angry about AIDS in Africa or something legitimate. There is no law anywhere that says you have to credit someone for something looking similar or also for something being an inspiration. 

EddieChilds
EddieChilds

Playing devil's advocate here, but given the simplicity of the shot (two hands holding a cat against a pink background), it could be a coincidence that the two shots look similar. Just sayin'....    

RenoirSoFar
RenoirSoFar

Please credit T'ai Rising-Moore, Stacy Newgent, and BULLETT Magazine for the real first version of this shoot. One of the shots in particular is IDENTICAL and I would expect much, much more from a publication as well regarded as TIME. I respect and adore your publication so much... please maintain a semblance of honor and either issue a public apology from the art director and photographer or at least just credit the appropriate inspiration. http://bullettmedia.com/editorial/the-many-faces-of-lil-bub-the-cutest-cat-on-the-internet/

Airedale
Airedale

I would be Grumpy too if I were a kat instead of a dog

Obbop
Obbop

Grumpy Cat is my hero!!!!!  I want my kids to look exactly like him.

BethSageEaton
BethSageEaton

@RenoirSoFar So using pink as a backdrop in a photoshoot for cats is 'nearly identical' and should always be credited as an homage to bub? Dude, you have to be joking.

Obbop
Obbop

@JorgeMaat   "TIME- For all of you to die"   A reply near and dear to Grumpy Cat's heart. A kindred spirit whose apt repky was misinterpreted by a Grumpy Human.

lucibitai
lucibitai

@JorgeMaat Why don't you lead the way, friend?

RenoirSoFar
RenoirSoFar

@BethSageEaton the photograph of the owner's hand holding the cat is literally identical and the pink backdrop with the cat lying by the magazine is an OBVIOUS copy of the BULLETT shoot. Thinking otherwise is totally naive. If the one shot had not been such a  blatant copy I might agree that it could be a coincidence, but... no. And um... it's not that it should be credited as an homage to Lil Bub. Lil Bub is a cat who was photographed. The art director of the original shoot should absolutely be credited here. The art director of this shoot could not even be bothered to use even a vaguely different back drop (literally the same exact shade of pink) or to copy a shoot that was more than a few months old. Ridiculous.

obladi
obladi

@lucibitai this is what Grumpy Cat would say...where have you been the last 6 months?

Trick
Trick

@RenoirSoFar I think, just to be fair, you should credit whoever came up with that shade of pink. And the guy who invented holding out a cat to take a picture of it, since people have been doing that since... well, long before 2012.

TimRobinson
TimRobinson

@RenoirSoFar @BethSageEaton how the hell else do u take a pic of a cat at a photo shoot??

Get over yourself

AgendaWakeUp
AgendaWakeUp

@RenoirSoFar @BethSageEatonReally? They invented the PINK background and hands holding a cat? Go ahead and GOOGLE "cat pictures with PINK backgrounds." 

Put your insane outrage to GOOD use, next time on something WORTH WHILE.