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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
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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iStock

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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