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.

What's That Thing That Hangs Off a Turkey’s Face?

NCHANT/iStock via Getty Images
NCHANT/iStock via Getty Images

That thing is called a snood. And it's there to let the other turkeys know that its owner is kind of a big deal.

When a male turkey—known as a tom—wants to mate, he faces two hurdles. One is his potential mates, the female turkeys (a.k.a. hens). In the realm of turkey mating, the hens wield the power of choice and the toms have to get a hen's attention and win the opportunity to reproduce. Come mating season, a tom will strut around, gobble, puff out his chest, fan his tail, and drag his wings to attract the hens, who then pick which of the toms they’ll mate with.

The second problem for a tom looking for love is the other toms in the area. They’re all competing for the same limited number of hens. Sometimes a good mating display isn’t enough to win a mate, and toms will attack and fight each other to secure a hen.

This is where the snood comes in. That goofy-looking piece of dangling flesh helps a tom both with choosy hens and with competition from rival males. Having a long snood almost always means that a hen will want to mate with him and that another tom will back down from a fight.

Dudes and their snoods

When two toms are trying to establish dominance, they’ll size each other up. Then they'll either fight, or one will flee.

In the late 1990s, Dr. Richard Buchholz, an animal behaviorist who focuses on turkeys, wanted to figure out which, if any, characteristics of a tom turkey could predict how they fare in dominance fights. That is, did bigger turkeys tend to win more scuffles? Did older ones? He also wanted to see if the turkeys used any of these predictive cues when sizing each other up. He looked at various characteristics of dominant toms that fight and win, and compared them to those of subordinate toms that lose fights or run from them. Of all the characteristics he looked at, only “relaxed snood length” seemed to be a reliable predictor of how a tom would do in bird-vs-bird combat. The dominant males, the ones who won fights and got a choice mate, had longer snoods.

With that in mind, Buchholz looked at how toms reacted to other toms with snoods of varying sizes. The birds tended to avoid confrontation with other males with longer snoods, and wouldn’t even feed near them. A big snood, this suggests, says to the other turkeys that this is a tom you don’t want to tangle with. Buchholz noted that snood length correlates with age, body mass, and testosterone, so, to competitors, the snood could be a good indicator of a tom’s aggressiveness, age/experience, size, and overall condition and fighting ability.

In the snood for love

Once the males have established who’s going to have a chance to mate, the final choice goes to the hen. While the mating display is the main draw for getting a hen to check him out, a tom’s snood helps him out again here.

Like it did for the other males, a tom’s snood signals a lot of information to a female assessing potential mates—it indicates how old and how big he is, and even says something about his health. In another study, Buchholz found that longer-snooded toms carried fewer parasites. If a hen wanted to choose a mate with good genes that might help her offspring grow large, live long, and avoid parasites, a tom’s snood is a good advertisement for his genes. In that study, hens showed a clear preference for toms with longer snoods. In another experiment years later, Buchholz found that healthy hens again showed a strong preference for long snoods and that hens with their own parasite problems were less picky about snood length and checked out more potential mates—perhaps, Buchholz thinks, because the hens recognized their own susceptibility to infection and were willing to invest more time searching for a tom with genes for parasite resistance that would complement their own—but still showed some preference for longer ones.

While a snood might look goofy to us, for a turkey, it’s integral to the mating game, signaling to other toms that they should get out of his way and letting hens know that he’s got what they’re looking for.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Journey to the Monarch Mosh Pit

iStock/Spondylolithesis
iStock/Spondylolithesis

Each fall, millions of migrating monarchs return to Mexico to wait out winter. The gathering makes Woodstock look like a business conference. Here’s how they get there.

Mosh Pit

In the mountains of central Mexico, the butterflies crowd on the branches of oyamel fir trees. The trees provide a perfect microclimate that prevents the butterflies from getting too hot or cold.

Texas Toast

After winter, the butterflies fly north to Texas in search of milkweed, where they lay their eggs. Many adults will die here; northbound monarchs generally live only three to seven weeks.

Juice Cleanse

One of the reasons monarchs love milkweed? Protection. As caterpillars, they absorb the toxins in the plant, which makes them less tasty to birds.

Connecting Flight

Eventually, a new generation of butterflies will make its way north to Canada. It takes multiple generations of butterflies to reach their final, most northerly destination.

Dine and Dash

On the way, butterflies will eat practically anything. Sure, there’s nectar—but they’ll also slurp the salts in mud.

Catching Air

When fall returns, a new generation of monarchs rides the air currents more than 3000 miles back to Mexico. They navigate by calibrating their body clocks with the position of the sun. (An internal magnetic compass helps them navigate on cloudy days.)

Latitude Adjustment

Monarchs “are one of the few creatures on Earth that can orient themselves both in latitude and longitude,” The New York Times reports—a feat sailors wouldn’t accomplish until the 1700s.

Southern Charm

Miraculously, each generation of southbound monarchs lives up to eight months—six times longer than their northbound descendants. Their longevity might have something to do with a process known as reproductive diapause (which is a fancy way of saying that the insects won’t breed until winter ends).

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