The Moral Dilemma of Monetizing Grumpy Cat

Making money off of your pets seems somewhat counter-intuitive. Don't we adopt pets to be our companions? Yet 'stage moms' like Gypsy Rose Lee and the term 'momager' first introduced by Kris Jenner who promotes her brood of Kardashians have been cashing in on their progeny for quite some time now.

The legend of the "grump" . . .

One of the most famous Internet pets is "Grumpy Cat." Since debuting on the social news website Reddit in 2012, GC [originally known as "Tardar Sauce"] became "Internet Famous," before that moniker was even 'a thing.'

GC's pet parent, the former waitress Tabatha Bundesen became a rich lady as a result of her pet's  unusual look -- that of a built-in frown. Caused by an under-bite and feline dwarfism, GC distinguished herself from just your every-day Seal-point Siamese cat. Those early photos put her on the digital map which went viral worldwide in short order.

From that point forward, GC has been in constant demand for appearances and endorsements, as well as advertising campaigns for a good number of products. In 2013, Grumpy Cat became the "biggest star" of SXSW Interactive. She was even more popular than the celebrity of Elon Musk and Al Gore [former VP & author of 'An Inconvenient Truth'.]

Money, Money, Money makes the world go round . . .

BuzzFeed.News reports Grumpy Cat earned $100 million by 2014. To equate that sum to other celebrities, GC made more money than the A-listed actors and athletes of the day.

Naturally celebrities often find themselves into lawsuits over intellectual property. Grumpy Cat is no exception. In 2013, a dispute arose between Grumpy Cat Limited and the Grenade beverage company. Apparently the beverage company released a line of "Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino," which was not approved by GLC. Over the course of the last 6 years, GC was involved in the legal wranglings of  the American court system. This January, however, an eight-person jury in Santa An, California awarded GCL $710,001 in damages according to these court documents.

Moral Dilemma?

If you think it's a moral disgrace to make money off a cat with a deformed face, think again. According to staff writer Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, "the Internet  is a whirlwind of massive media exposure, and random memes and personalities and mobile games and artists get super-duper-famous for reasons that can't be fully explained, all the time, for complex reasons."

According to Thomspon, "it's pointless to be moralistic about the fortune of Grumpy Cat any more than we're condemning of the fortune of any other celebrity. Don't be a Grumpy Cat hater. Hate the game."

Your thoughts readers? Should pets remain soley our companions, or should we milk them for their unique distinctions? Not that a Grumpy Cat is born every day. But should you be creative enough to find a way to create an Internet sensation, shouldn't you be rewarded a just compensation -- even when it runs into the millions? Hard to look the other way, don't you think?

Primary Source: The Atlantic