Grumpy Cat, the Internet sensation beloved for her angry-looking face, has died at the age of seven on May 14, 2019. Thanks to merchandising deals, paid appearances, a Lifetime movie and a variety of sponsorships, Grumpy Cat amassed quite a bit of wealth in her short life, though her net worth has been disputed. According to some estimates, Grumpy Cat’s net worth may be up to $100 million. Grumpy Cat’s owner Tabatha Bundesen has not publicly revealed her pet’s net worth.
In 2018, Grumpy Cat was awarded $710,000 in a copyright infringement case. The lawsuit involved a coffee company, Grenade, using Grumpy Cat’s likeness on bags of ground coffee and “Grumppaccino” T-shirts. Bundesen had entered into an agreement with the company to use her cat’s likeness on specific iced coffee drinks, and the California court ruled in her favor.
Grumpy Cat first rose to fame due to a Reddit post in 2012. Her image has appeared on countless T-shirts, greeting cards, memes, and more. Though she is known around the world as Grumpy Cat, her real name is Tardar Sauce.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Grumpy Cat’s Owner Tabatha Bundesen Has Been Extremely Secretive About How Much Her Cat is Worth
In 2014, the British tabloid The Daily Express reported that Grumpy Cat has a net worth of £64, roughly equivalent then to $100 million. Shorty after, Bundesen told The Huffington Post that number was “completely inaccurate,” though she declined to disclose how much money her feline friend had accumulated. HuffPo also noted that the famous feline-owner didn’t say whether $100 million was too low or too high.
At that time, Grumpy Cat’s movie, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever had just aired on Lifetime, and Bundesen was in more talks with the network. She said that she was thinking carefully about the best way to disclose her cat’s earnings and might do an interview on Lifetime to clear the air.
Before Grumpy Cat became a viral star, Bundesen worked as a waitress at a Red Lobster in Arizona, according to an interview with Newsweek. Grumpy Cat’s fame allowed Bundesen to quit her job and establish Grumpy Cat Limited, a company that sells Grumpy Cat related merchandise. Bundesen managed her cat’s career with the help of meme manager Ben Lashes.
2. In 2018, Grumpy Cat Won $710,000 in a Copyright Infringement Case Against Grenade Beverages
Grumpy Cat’s lawsuit may provide another clue as to the sour-faced cat’s net worth. Grumpy Cat Limited sued Grenade beverage company in 2018 for using the curmudgeonly feline’s image outside of their original agreement. Nick and Paul Sanford of Grenade had originally paid Grumpy Cat Limited $150,000 up front to use Grumpy Cat to promote a new iced coffee drink called the Grumppaccino. When Grenade began offering bagged coffee and T-shirts featuring Grumpy Cat, Grumpy Cat Limited filed a suit.
In part, their complaint read, “this case arises out of the unlawful and inexplicable conduct of Defendants, who induced Plaintiff (the lawful and exclusive owner of the copyrights and trademarks in and to the valuable “Grumpy Cat” brand) to grant them limited rights to the “Grumpy Cat” brand, only to repeatedly abuse and infringe those rights by creating and exploiting unauthorized “Grumpy Cat” branded products and further failing to account to Plaintiff for the sale of the only product that was actually authorized to be sold by Defendants.”
Grenade fired back with a countersuit, alleging that Grumpy Cat Limited had not held up their end of the bargain. In particular, Grenade claimed that Grumpy Cat had not properly promoted their product on Instagram. Additionally, according to Courthouse News the countersuit brought up Grumpy Cat Limited’s promise that the cat would star in a summer blockbuster alongside Jack Black and Will Ferrel that never materialized.
Ultimately, the eight-person jury found in favor of Grumpy Cat Limited and awarded $710,000 to the sour-faced cat.
3. Grumpy Cat Starred in Her Own Lifetime Movie in 2014
Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever was a 2014 TV movie that aired on Lifetime. In the movie, actress Aubrey Plaza provided the voice of Grumpy Cat. In the movie, Grumpy Cat languishes in a mall pet store until she is adopted by a 12-year-old girl.
Although the movie signified a big step in Grumpy Cat’s career, it was panned by critics. The AV Club wrote, “The plot is laughably formulaic—so much so that the film literally references how formulaic it is, as though hanging a lantern on it will somehow mitigate the sheer laziness at work.”
Grumpy Cat did continue to make public appearances, but she never starred in another movie.
4. Grumpy Cat’s Book Sold Over 500,000 Copies in 15 Languages
Grumpy Cat’s book sales offer more insight into her potential net worth. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Grumpy Cat’s 2014 book Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book had already sold 500,000 copies shortly after it was released.
Grumpy Cat is also listed as the author of two other books: Grumpy Cat No-It-All: Everything You Need to No and The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat is also the main character of A Little Golden Book called The Little Grumpy Cat That Wouldn’t illustrated by Steph Laberis.
5. Grumpy Cat’s Biggest Paychecks Likely Came From Her Commercial Appearances for Friskies and Honey Nut Cheerios
Finally, Grumpy Cat’s endorsement deals contributed greatly to her overall net worth. Grumpy Cat signed an endorsement deal with the Purina brand Friskies in 2013 for an undisclosed sum. Grumpy Cat’s representatives at Purina at the time told CNN, “It’s our policy not to discuss the financial terms or other details of the agreement.” Grumpy Cat starred in a series of ads for Friskies and made public appearances at Friskies events.
Grumpy Cat also starred in a 2014 commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios and had her own “kitten-fur” scented perfume for sale with Demeter Fragrance. Grumpy Cat’s face was printed on a collection of Skechers Bobs sneakers, and in 2018 she appeared on the cover of Reader’s Digest. Grumpy Cat has even been to South by Southwest, where fans lined up around the block to get pictures with her.
In addition to all of these sponsorships and appearances, Grumpy kept in touch with her followers on social media. Grumpy Cat has over eight million fans on Facebook, 2.7 million followers on Instagram, and millions of views on her YouTube videos.