AUSTIN, Texas â€” The cat is out of the bag here at SXSW, or out of the Internet.
While that furry and very cute feline sat in a small bed in Mashableâ€™s dry and warm tent here at SXSW, hundreds of people waited in line in the pouring rain just to get a photo and quick look at her.
Why, though? Why would people wait hours just to see one cat? Because she is one of the biggest cats on the Internet. Thatâ€™s why.
Grumpy Cat, for those who donâ€™t know about the latest Internet fun, is a cat with a bit of a sour face, she always looks, well, grumpy. She has become the face of a popular Internet meme and has amassed thousands of Twitter followers with snarky and complaint-filled 140-character updates.
Of course, the cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce (or Tard, for short) herself doesnâ€™t do the talking or tweeting. Thatâ€™s done by her owners â€” Bryan and Tabatha Bundesen. Tabatha adopted Tardâ€™s mother and on April 4, 2012, Grumpy Cat was born. A couple of months later, Bryan decided to put the always-mad cat on Reddit just for fun.
â€śShe was lying in my lap and she looked extremely grumpy so I decided to put it on Reddit,â€ť Bryan told ABC News at the festival. â€śIt went viral and I never expected it.â€ť
The rest, as they say, is Internet history. People started circulating the photo and slapping funny text on top of it and then Bryan started grumpycats.com. The other, non-official, Twitter account â€”@ItsTheGrumpyCat â€” has more than 300,000 followers.
In real life, the cat never does shake her grumpy face and thatâ€™s because she has feline dwarfism, a condition, the Bundesens say, causes her to have small sighs and stiff back legs. Other than that, they say, she is a completely â€śhealthy and happy cat.â€ť
But Internet fame turned to real-life fame. Grumpy Cat has now struck a deal with Friskies: the cat will appear in a Friskies commercial soon. At SXSW, Friskies held a press event with the cat and Mashable has signed up to have her on display for the next few days for a couple of hours at a time. Yes, the Bundesen siblings even have a manager for all her press.
But you canâ€™t help but feel bad for the cat that is constantly being photographed, which is why some are saying itâ€™s time to free Grumpy Cat. But Bryan says thereâ€™s no reason for that and that they are doing things to help other cats. Here in Austin they made a contribution to Austin Pets Alive, a no-kill shelter in the area.
â€śA lot of people think we are exploiting the cat, we limit her exposure greatly,â€ť Bryan said. â€śShe is only here for an hour at a time. Ninety-nine percent of the time she is just a regular cat. She is not front of the camera at all times, she is a normal house cat and we love her.â€ť
As do the hundreds of people waiting in line to see her.