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16 Fun Facts About Grumpy Cat

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Last night, the grouchiest Internet-famous feline 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 hasn't even hit 2 yet. "In her short year and a half, she’s accomplished so much," says Shawn Brain, brand manager of Friskies, which created the show. "So she seemed like the ideal candidate for the award." (The Friskies, now in its second year, isn't just about handing out awards: Friskies also donated 5 cans of food to shelters for every cat video submitted, so 330,000 cans went to shelters across the country.)

We sat down with Grumpy Cat and her humans—Tabatha Bundesen, her brother Bryan, and her daughter Crystal—to find out all we could about this seriously cranky (and seriously cute!) kitty.

Grumpy Cat answers mental_floss's questions, but she's not happy about it. Photo by Erin McCarthy.

1. Grumpy was born on April 4, 2012, at the Bundesen's house in Morristown, Arizona. Her mother is a calico, but Tabatha says they're not 100 percent sure who Grumpy's dad is.

2. Grumpy's unique look comes from feline dwarfism and an underbite. She became an Internet hit 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 says. "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 says. "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 orangish coloring ("She thought Grumpy looked like Tartar sauce," Tabatha says) 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 says.

7. Her favorite Friskies food is Savory Shreds. "I think it's the gravy," Tabatha says. "She really loves it." Non-Friskies? Tuna and Starbucks coffee cake.

Grumpy and her humans accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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 says. "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 Bundesons 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 says, are "bottles of water and a cool place to sit!"

11. Grumpy's favorite things to play with? Bags and string.

12. Grumpy got involved with Friskies through the brand's "Will Kitty Play With It?" videos. "Her three videos have racked up over a million views to date," Brain says. 

Of winning the Lifetime Achievement Award, Bryan says, "It’s very exciting. We still can’t believe it. We keep hitting new milestones. Friskies has been our favorite place to work with so far. They take great care of us." The partnership shows no signs of slowing down: "Stay tuned for more from Friskies and Grumpy Cat," Friskies brand manager Shawn Brain says.

13. 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 says. "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."

14. Grumpy Cat wrote a book—and it made the New York Times bestseller list.

15. There's a Grumpy Cat movie in development! "It’s moving forward," Bryan says. "It’s a slow process. We've read all the scripts that have been submitted, and given our comments. We have our favorites." The world's cutest, crankiest kitten also recently started shipping her line of coffee drinks and will be releasing plush toys in time for the holidays.

16. Grumpy Cat has totally changed her owners' lives. "I’ve been waitressing for 10 years, barely making ends meet," Tabatha says. "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."

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E
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Art
New Smithsonian Exhibit Explains Why Felines Were the Cat's Meow in Ancient Egypt
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Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E

From bi-coastal cat cafes to celebrity pets like Lil Bub, felines are currently enjoying a peak moment in popular culture. That’s part of the reason why curators at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery—which will re-open to visitors on Saturday, October 14, following a 3-month closure—decided to dedicate a new exhibition to ancient Egypt’s relationship with the animals.

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt” looks at the cultural and religious importance of cats, which the Egyptians appreciated long before YouTube was a thing and #caturday was a hashtag. It's based on a traveling exhibition that began at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. On view until January 15, 2018, it's one of several exhibits that will kick off the grand reopening of the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries, the conjoined national museums of Asian and Middle Eastern Art.

The Freer has been closed since January 2016 for major renovations, and the Sackler since July 2016 for minor ones. The upgraded institutions will make their public debut on October 14, and be feted by a free two-day festival on the National Mall.

Featuring 80 artworks and relics, ranging from figurines of leonine deities to the tiny coffins of beloved pets, "Divine Felines" even has a cat mummy on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. These objects span from the Middle Kingdom (2008 to 1630 BCE) to the Byzantine period (395 to 642 CE).

An ancient Egyptian metal weight shaped like a cat, dating back to 305 to 30 BCE, on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Weight in Form of a Cat, 305 to 30 BCE, Bronze, silver, lead
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

The term “cat” is used loosely, as the Egyptians celebrated domestic mousers and fearsome predators alike.

“The Egyptians were close observers of nature, so they were observing cat behaviors,” Antonietta Catanzariti, the exhibition's in-house curator, tells Mental Floss. “They noticed that cats and lions— in general, felines—have aggressive and protective aspects, so they associated those attributes to deities.”

The ancient Egyptians viewed their gods as humans, animals, or mixed forms. Several of these pantheon members were both associated with and depicted as cats, including Bastet, the goddess of motherhood, fertility, and protection; and Sakhmet, the goddess of war and—when appeased—healing. She typically has a lion head, but in some myths she appears as a pacified cat.

A limestone sculptor's model of a walking lion, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Sculptor's Model of a Walking Lion, ca. 664 to 630 BCE, limestone
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.190

While Bastet was a nurturer, Sakhmet—whose name means “The Powerful One”—could use her mighty force to either slay or safeguard humanity. These characterizations are typical of the ancient Egyptian worldview, which perceived the universe in dualistic terms. “There’s always a positive and a negative,” Catanzariti explains.

Contrary to popular belief, however, ancient Egyptians did not view cats themselves as gods. “The goddess Sakhmet does have the features as a lion, or in some cases as a cat, but that doesn’t mean that the Egyptians were worshipping cats or lions,” Catanzariti says. Instead, they were simply noting and admiring her feline traits. This practice, to an extent, also extended to royalty. Kings were associated with lions and other large cats, as they were the powerful protectors of ancient Egypt’s borders.

These myriad associations prompted Egyptians to adorn palaces, temples, protective amulets, ceremonial vessels, and accessories with cat images. Depending on their context, these renderings symbolized everything from protection and power to beauty and sexuality. A king’s throne might have a lion-shaped support, for example, whereas a woman’s cosmetics case might be emblazoned with a cat-headed female goddess of motherhood and fertility.

An ancient Egyptian figurine of a standing lion-headed goddess, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Figurine of a Standing Lion-Headed Goddess, 664 to 630 BCE, Faience
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.943E

While cats were linked with heavenly figures and kings, they were also popular domestic pets. Their ability to catch vermin made them an important addition to households, and owners loved and anthropomorphized their pets just like we do today.

Egyptians often named, or nicknamed, their children after animals; Miit (cat) was a popular moniker for girls. It's said that entire households shaved their eyebrows in mourning if a house cat died a natural death. Some also believe that cats received special legal protection. (Not all cats were this lucky, however, as some temples bred kittens specifically to offer their mummified forms to the gods.) If a favorite cat died, the Egyptians would bury them in special decorated coffins, containers, and boxes. King Tutankhamen, for example, had a stone sarcophagus constructed just for his pet feline.

An ancient Egyptian bronze cat head adorned with gold jewelry, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Cat's Head, 30 BCE. to third century CE, bronze, gold
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

“Divine Felines” breaks down these facts, and more, into five thematic sections, including “Cats and Kings"; “Cats and Gods”; “Cats and Death”; “Cats and Protection”; and “Dogs as Guardians and Hunters.” Yes, there’s also an exhibition section for dog lovers—“a small one,” Catanzariti laughs, that explains why canines were associated with figures like Anubis, the jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife.

Did the ancient Egyptians prefer cats to dogs? “I would say that both of them had different roles,” Catanzariti says, as dogs were valued as hunters, scavengers, and guards. “They were appreciated in different ways for their ability to protect or be useful for the Egyptian culture.” In this way, "Divine Felines" is targeted to ailurophiles and canophiliacs alike, even if it's packaged with pointed ears and whiskers.

An ancient Egyptian cat coffin, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Coffin for a Cat, 664 to 332 BCE, or later, Wood, gesso, paint, animal remains
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1944Ea-b

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