Tails of the City typically focuses on dogs. But this time, I'd like to talk about cats, specifically the Internet superstar Grumpy Cat. She is currently the hottest celebrity at the music, film and interactive conference SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, TX. People have stood in line for hours just to take a photo with the feline at the Mashable House, a temporary lounge the social media and tech news site set up at the conference. She was invited to be the main guest. Even the co- founder of the social media check in site Foursquare, Dennis Crowley snuck into the crowd to snap a photo. Watch the video of picture seekers.
Who is Grumpy Cat, you ask? For the uninitiated, her real name is Tardar Sauce. She is an eleven year old mixed breed, lives with her owner Tabatha Bundesen, in Morristown, Arizona and is affected by feline dwarfism. Bundesen and her brother Bryan thought it would be funny to post photos of the cat on the social news site Reddit.
Who wouldn’t be tickled by her perpetually dour facial expression? Boy were they right! Apparently millions of people were drawn to that face. The pictures went viral and inspired many Internet memes. (An Internet meme is an idea that spreads online and is built upon.)
Grumpy Cat has spawned an industry; t-shirts and mugs with her pouty face are sold on her website which attracts more than a million visitors per month. She has a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a YouTube channel. She is part of the line up of Internet cat sensations and memes profiled in the upcoming documentary “Lil Bub & Friendz”
But overall Tarder Sauce the Grumpy Cat leads a normal life, her owner insists, doing typical cat things, like sleeping, eating, playing with toys and going to the vet.
There may be a legitimate reason why people are drawn to cats like Grumpy and cat videos overall. A study shows that watching them makes us more productive. (Trust me, I can’t make this stuff up!). The study published last year, titled the Power of Kawaii, which means cute in Japanese), summized that seeing cute images (cats and dogs included) made people more focused and attentive in their behavior at work.
So the next time you’re caught pouring through Grumpy Cat memes or videos of cats behaving badly, point this out to your supervisor. You’re simply being more productive!
If you're at SXSW and took a picture of Grumpy Cat, post it here. Also do you have a favorite cat video or photo? Tell us about it.