15 Facts About Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat attends a baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on September 7, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Grumpy Cat attends a baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on September 7, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Christian Petersen, Getty Images

This morning, it was announced on Twitter that Grumpy Cat, the internet-famous feline who launched thousands of memes, passed away earlier this week at the age of 7.

Back in October 2013, the famously frowny kitty came to New York City to attend The Friskies—an awards show that crowns the best cat videos of the year—and to pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award, even though she had not yet celebrated her second birthday.

"In her short year and a half, she’s accomplished so much," Shawn Brain, then-brand manager of Friskies, the cat food brand that created the show, said. "So she seemed like the ideal candidate for the award."

Mental Floss had the chance to sit down with Grumpy Cat and her humans—Tabatha Bundesen, her brother Bryan, and her daughter Crystal—at that event to find out all we could about this seriously cranky (and seriously cute) kitty, who will be dearly missed.

A photo of Grumpy Cat in 2013
In 2013, Grumpy Cat answered Mental Floss's questions—but she wasn't happy about it.
Erin McCarthy
  1. Grumpy was born on April 4, 2012, at the Bundesens' home in Morristown, Arizona. Her mother is a calico, but Tabatha said they weren't 100 percent sure who Grumpy's dad was.
  2. Grumpy's unique look comes from feline dwarfism and an underbite. She became an internet sensation when Bryan posted a photo of her on Reddit in September 2012.
  3. Grumpy has a brother named Pokey. "He’s black and white, but he does have dwarfism, so he’s super short and cute too," Tabatha said. "His face isn’t as frowny as hers, but he does have an underbite."
  4. Grumpy's not actually that grumpy—in fact, she's pretty lovable! Most of the time, Grumpy is very calm, but she can also be playful (she particularly likes to hide behind curtains). "She’s super frisky, especially between 3 and 6 a.m.—when you’re trying to get your deepest sleep, she’s wanting to play," Tabatha said. "Pokey actually has more of a grumpy personality."
  5. Crystal came up with Grumpy Cat's real name—Tardar Sauce—which was inspired by two things: Grumpy's original orangeish coloring ("She thought Grumpy looked like Tartar sauce," Tabatha said) and the fact that, at the time, Tabatha was waitressing at Red Lobster and had just made Crystal try the stuff. "She was like, 'Ew, no!' and I said 'Honey, you have to try it! It goes with fish!' So it was fresh in her mind when the kitten was born."
  6. Even though it's not her given name, Grumpy Cat will also answer to Grumpy. In fact, "it's pretty much Grumpy all the time now," Tabatha said.
  7. Her favorite Friskies food is Savory Shreds. "I think it's the gravy," Tabatha said. "She really loves it." Non-Friskies? Tuna and Starbucks coffee cake.
  8. Critics have questioned whether Grumpy should be traveling so much, but Grumpy actually loves it. "I don’t feel like she’s being abused or exploited by traveling," Tabatha said. "I feel like she gets excited—she knows! When I get her carrier out, she’ll come and climb in it. I think she’s kind of liking it."
  9. Other Grumpy myths the Bundesens would like to dispel: That Grumpy's in front of the camera all the time (they shoot one week's worth of daily grumps in one sitting) and that Grumpy has been sedated at book signings and other appearances. "She never has been and never will be," Bryan says. "She's really active at night, and sleeps during the day—she always has," which is why she seems sleepy at events.
  10. In fact, stipulations that ensure Grumpy's well-being are written into every agreement and contract. "Her health and safety is the most important thing to us," Bryan says. There aren't any diva-esque demands on Grumpy's rider, either: All she needs, Tabatha said, are "bottles of water and a cool place to sit!"
  11. Grumpy's favorite things to play with? Bags and string.
  12. Grumpy will be dressing up for Halloween—but no costume has been decided on yet. "There’s a few that we’ve tried on," Tabatha said. "You can take her into PetSmart and put them on her, so we’ve had a little too much fun doing it. Most important is finding one that is comfortable for her—I don’t want to put her in one that will make it hard to walk—and stylish."
  13. In 2013, Grumpy Cat "wrote" a book—Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book—and it made the New York Times Best Sellers list.
  14. In 2014, Grumpy Cat starred in a holiday movie for Lifetime, Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. Grumpy was voiced by Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza.
  15. Grumpy Cat has totally changed her owners' lives. "I’ve been waitressing for 10 years, barely making ends meet," Tabatha said. "Now I get to travel with the cat, and I’m homeschooling Crystal, so we get to spend more time together. I hardly ever saw my brother before all this happened, maybe once or twice in 10 years, and now I get to see him every couple months at least. It's a huge positive change. Plus, there's the joy that Grumpy Cat is spreading—or grumpiness. But really, everybody’s smiling."

This story has been updated for 2019.

Chimpanzees Bond by Watching Movies Together, Too

Windzepher/iStock via Getty Images
Windzepher/iStock via Getty Images

Scientists at the Wolfgang Kohler Primate Research Center in Germany recently discovered that, like humans, chimpanzees bond when they watch movies together, the BBC reports.

In the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers stationed pairs of chimpanzees in front of screens that showed a video of a family of chimps playing with a young chimp. They found that afterward, the chimps would spend more time grooming and interacting with each other—or simply being in the same part of the room—than they would without having watched the video.

They gave the chimps fruit juice to keep them calm and occupied while they viewed the video, and they chose a subject that chimps have previously proven to be most interested in: other chimps. They also used eye trackers to ensure the chimps were actually watching the video. If you’ve ever watched a movie with friends, you might notice similarities between the chimps’ experience and your own. Drinks (and snacks) also keep us calm and occupied while we watch, and we like to watch movies about other humans. Since this study only showed that chimps bond over programs about their own species, we don’t know if it would work the same way if they watched something completely unrelated to them, like humans do—say, The Lion King.

Bonding through shared experiences was thought to be one of the traits that make us uniquely human, and some researchers have argued that other species don’t have the psychological mechanisms to realize that they’re even sharing an experience with another. This study suggests that social activities for apes don’t just serve utilitarian purposes like traveling together for safety, and that they’re capable of a more human-like social closeness.

The part that is uniquely human about this study is the fact that they were studying the effect of a screen, as opposed to something less man-made. The chimps in question have participated in other studies, so they may be more accustomed to that technology than wild apes. But the study demonstrates that we’re not the only species capable of social interaction for the sake of social interaction.

[h/t BBC]

10 Facts You Should Know About Mosquitoes

tskstock/iStock via Getty Images
tskstock/iStock via Getty Images

Between the itching and the welts and the fears of mosquito-borne viruses, it's easy to forget that mosquitoes are a wonder of evolution, and that maybe they don't get a fair shake from us. Of more than 3000 known species, only 80 actually bite people, and at least one eats other mosquitoes for us. They grow from egg to adult in just five days, begin mating within minutes of hatching, and possess, by way of their stinging mouthparts, some of the coolest appendages in the animal kingdom.

1. Mosquitoes are excellent flyers in bad weather.

The average raindrop is 50 times heavier than the average mosquito, yet they buzz around in the rain with no problems. If a Boeing 747 got whacked with a similarly scaled-up raindrop, there would be 2375 tons of water coming down on it, and things probably wouldn’t turn out as well as they do for the mosquito. How do the insects do it?

A common urban legend said that the bugs were nimble enough to dodge the drops. A few years ago, a team of engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology watched real mosquitoes and Styrofoam dummy mosquitoes with a high-speed camera during a rainy flight to see if that’s what was really happening. They found that the bugs don’t fly fast enough to dodge the drops, but their slowness is what keeps them from getting knocked out of the sky. A mosquito’s low mass even at slow speed doesn’t provide enough of a target for a raindrop to splash on collision. Instead, the drop just deforms, and doesn’t transfer enough momentum to the mosquito to disrupt its flight.

2. Texas is the mosquito capital of America.

Of the 3000 species of mosquitoes around the world, at least 150 are found in the United States, and 85 of those call Texas home. When people say everything's bigger in Texas, you can also include the biodiversity of the state's biting, disease-carrying insects.

3. Some mosquitoes are truly dangerous to humans ...

The female mosquito, which is the one that stings and sucks blood, is an incredible transmitter of disease and, because of that, the deadliest animal in the world. Each year, the malaria parasites they transmit kill 2 million to 3 million people and infect another 200 million or more. They also spread pathogens that cause yellow fever, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya and West Nile disease.

4. ... and some mosquitoes are harmless.

Not every species of mosquito sucks blood from people, and among those that do, not every one transmits disease. The blood suckers don’t even need to bite you for every meal. Males live entirely on nectar and other plant fluids, and the females’ diet is primarily plant-based, too. Most of the time, they only go after people when they’re ready to reproduce, because blood contains lipids, proteins, and other nutrients needed for the production of eggs.

5. MosquitoEs actually help the environment.

When you’re rubbing calamine lotion all over yourself, mosquitoes might not seem to serve any purpose but to annoy you, but many species play important ecological roles. The mosquitoes Aedes impiger and Aedes nigripes, which gather in thick clouds in Arctic Russia and Canada, are an important food source for migrating birds. Farther south, birds, insects, spiders, salamanders, lizards, frogs, and fish also eat different mosquito species regularly. Plants need them, too, and some, like the blunt-leaved orchid and endangered monkeyface orchid, rely on mosquitoes as their primary pollinator.

Some mosquito species are also excellent at mosquito control. Species of the genus Toxorhynchites feed on the larvae and immature stages of other mosquitoes and will sometimes even cannibalize members of their own species.

6. Mosquitoes are amazing hunters (as if we needed to tell you that).

Mosquitoes are adept at picking up on the chemicals given off by their human hosts. They can detect the carbon dioxide in our breath, the 1-octen-3-ol in our breath and sweat, and other organic substances we produce with the 70-plus types of odor and chemical receptors in their antennae. These receptors can pick up traces of chemicals from hundreds of feet away, and once the mosquito closes in, it tracks its meal chemically and also visually—and they’re fond of people wearing dark colors.

7. Mosquitoes can be picky.

If it seems like you’re always covered head to toe by bites while people who were sitting right next to you only have one or two, it’s not just paranoia; the skeeters actually are out to get you. Some people happen to give off more of the odors and compounds that mosquitoes find simply irresistible, while others emit less of those and more of the compounds that make them unattractive to mosquitoes—either by acting as repellents or by masking the compounds that mosquitoes would find attractive.

8. A female mosquito's mouth is primed for sucking blood.

A mosquito doesn’t simply sink its proboscis into your skin and start sucking. What you see sticking out of a mosquito’s face is the labium, which sheaths the mouthparts that really do all the work. The labium bends back when a mosquito bites, allowing these other parts to pass through its tip and do their thing. The sharp, pointed mandibles and maxillae, which both come in pairs, are used to pierce the skin, and the hollow hypopharynx and the labrum are used to deliver saliva and draw blood, respectively.

9. Mosquito saliva prevents blood clotting.

The saliva that gets pumped out from the hypopharynx during a bite is necessary to get around our blood’s tendency to clot. It contains a grab bag of chemicals that suppress vascular constriction, blood clotting and platelet aggregation, keeping our blood from clogging up the mosquitoes' labrum and ruining their meal.

10. Mosquitoes can explode.

Blood pressure makes a mosquito's meal easier by helping to fill its stomach faster, but urban legend says it can also lead to their doom. Story goes, you can flex a muscle close to the bite site or stretch your skin taut so the mosquito can’t pull out its proboscis and your blood pressure will fill the bug until it bursts. The consensus among entomologists seems to be that this is bunk, but there is a more complicated way of blowing the bugs up. To make a blood bomb, you’ve got to sever the mosquito’s ventral nerve cord, which transmits information about satiety. When it's cut, the cord can’t tell the mosquito’s brain that its stomach is full, so it’ll keep feeding until it reaches critical mass. At least one researcher found that mosquitoes clueless about how full they were would keep sucking even after their guts had exploded, sending showers of blood spilling out of their blown-out back end.

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