"I’ve seen a lot of pop-cultural Web sensations rise and fall in my day, but I have never seen people wait two hours in the spitting rain for the chance to be photographed next to a sleeping cat." - Andrew Leonard, Salon.com
Depending on who you talk to, Tardar Sauce the Grumpy Cat had the best, or worst weekend ever. The popular internet meme made her first public appearance at the South by Southwest music, movie, and tech festival in Austin, Texas, where she shot a celebrity version of "Will Kitty Play With It?" for Friskies, before taking up residency in the Mashable house, where she met with throngs of adoring fans.
(Friskies Facebook Page)
Tard, whose unusual appearance is attributed to feline dwarfism, became the breakout star of the interactive event, making headlines from ABC to CNN. On Friday, TMZ posted paparazzi shots of the cat, and reported that she flew to Austin first class, and "was living it up...with her own, full-time assistant to brush her, an endless supply of Friskies as well as other treats, bottled water and her very own room at a four-diamond hotel ... king-sized bed included."
Fans generally responded favorably to the hoopla surrounding the feline star -- as one TMZ commenter put it, "I'm down to make the Grumpy Cat the new 'it girl' as long as she replaces Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan. Please, TMZ, she's already more interesting, pretty, and more respected" -- but even an 11-month old cat is not immune to controversy.
Motivated by an All Things D article called "People of South by Southwest — Please, Free Grumpy Cat", several supporters took to Twitter to protest the tiny feline being put on display.
In response to the criticism, Grumpy's owner, Bryan Bundeson, told The Austin Chronicle, "Yeah, we get a lot of messages about how we're exploiting her, you know? Or from people concerned that we're doing something to make her grumpy. But that's just how she looks. Ninety-nine percent of the time she's just a house pet. She's very well taken care of, and we love her."
The Austin Humane Society also chimed in, tweeting, "They aren't allowing anyone to touch #grumpycat and she's getting lots of breaks. She's doing good."
(The Official Grumpy Cat Facebook Page)
Grumpy with her owner, Tabatha Bundesen.
Despite her busy schedule, Tardar Sauce also took time to visit Austin Pets Alive, where a donation was made to the no-kill shelter in her name. Other highlights included a cuddle session with "The Vampire Diaries" star Ian Somerhalder, who posted the following picture on his Instagram account with the caption, "Me and my new love..."
Maybe it's just me, but she looks positively happy here.
One of the funniest pieces of coverage I encountered was from Tard's own website, where her owners wrote: "I woke up to a rustling noise last night and found Tardar Sauce going to sleep in a shopping bag! She’s always most active between 2am and 6am and this was just as she was going to bed after running around the hotel room!"
Despite all the fame and fortune, I guess the old adage remains true: You can take the cat out of the bag, but you can't take the bag out of the cat.