R.I.P. Grumpy Cat & Lil Bub
The lives of Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub show just how famous pets can become on social media.
Whether it’s funny cat videos posted on Facebook or adorable pet Instagrams, animals have taken social media by storm. Some pets have even become celebrities due to their online fame, earning money people only dream of. However, this year, the internet lost two of its most famous felines: Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. The response to their deaths and a look at the lives they lived illustrate just how massive the pet phenomenon is on social media.
Both cats passed at relatively young ages and had health conditions. Grumpy Cat was seven when she died in May, while Lil Bub was eight and passed this week. Both deaths sparked an outpouring of grief on social media.
Grumpy Cat, known for her perpetually sour expression, had 1.5 million followers on Twitter, 2.4 million on Instagram and 8.5 million on Facebook at the time of her death, according to CNN. In addition to being the subject of countless memes, she was the spokescat for Friskies and had a line of shoes with Skechers.
Her face appears on all types of merchandise, from sweaters to phone cases. She was even the subject of a Christmas movie and multiple books, including a New York Times bestseller. Of course, she’s also been featured on pet merchandise too, such as PetRageous’ feeders and placemats, which we covered in our September issue.
Lil Bub experienced similar success. The small cat’s multiple genetic anomalies resulted in an unusual appearance that made her famous. Like Grumpy Cat, she had dwarfism, but her lower jaw was shorter than her upper jaw and she did not have a full set of teeth, so her tongue always hung out slightly. Scientists even sequenced her genome to learn more about her health conditions.
Like Grumpy Cat, her image is printed on various items like mugs and jewelry. She had a documentary made about her and stuffed animals produced with her likeness. Her owner also started a special needs pet foundation in her honor. In the social media post in which he announced her death, he revealed that she raised over $700,000 for animals in need.
Though Lil Bub’s death is very recent, we’ve had more time to look at the impact of Grumpy Cat’s. Merchandise with her likeness continues to be sold, including PetRageous’ Grumpy Cat line.
“There appears to be great interest in the line, and it could be in paying homage to a wonderful cat,” says Jamie Giunta, a marketing/advertising manager for PetRageous, in our September issue. “Grumpy Cat is, and always will be, one of the world’s most recognized animals.”
In making pets massive internet celebrities, we’ve afforded them a kind of immortality. Though Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat are no longer with us, their image lives on. Through memes and merchandise, they still continue to bring joy to pet lovers around the world.