“Grumpy Cat visited TIME, and it was awful. Actually, that’s far from true — though the adorable mixed-breed cat was enduring an exhaustive day-long romp through the New York City media circuit, it seems as though she rather enjoyed herself.
The Internet celebrity known as Grumpy Cat pounced on TIME’s Manhattan office Friday, toting with her an entourage larger than that of many celebrities. The brown-and-white kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, came flanked by owner Tabatha Bundesen and her brother Bryan Bundesen, the man responsible for Grumpy Cat’s viral fame. The 11-month-old cat leaped to fame when Bryan posted a photo of the frowning feline to Reddit in September 2012 while visiting his sister in Arizona.
And it’s not hard to see Grumpy Cat’s appeal: her beaming blue eyes, shining coat, diminutive stature and of course, her permanent frown — all due to a form of feline dwarfism — has clearly made her stand out among the web’s most popular felines.
Since then, Grumpy Cat has inspired numerous memes (or “copy cats”), her YouTube video has racked up more than 7.7 million views, and she has appeared on national television, from The Today Show to Good Morning America. (As expected, after these early-morning visits, photos of her famous frowning face have been flanked by bubble text explaining “Not a morning person.”) Earlier this month, more than 600 people — including celebrities like musician Andrew W.K. and Ian Somerhalder of Lost fame — lined up to pose with the purse-lipped feline at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
Hers is the face that has launched a thousand memes. So when Grumpy Cat reached TIME’s headquarters in the middle of a long day promoting Friskies’ web series “Will Kitty Play With It,” it was only logical that we wanted her to pose with some of our favorite animal-centric covers. In 1981, TIME ran a cover story titled “Cats: Love ‘Em, Hate ‘Em,” featuring a snowy white house cat on the cover, looking just the slightest bit grumpy. We wondered if the cover could cheer up Grumpy Cat — after all, she could be a cover model one day soon. Even the pug from TIME’s 2010 cover story “What Animals Think” did little to perk up Tardar Sauce. In the end, Grumpy Cat just wanted to pose for pictures and cuddle with our editors.
“She’s cool with the fame,” says owner Tabatha Bundesen, a waitress at Red Lobster, which gave her a month-long leave from her job to hit the road with Grumpy Cat. “I think she was actually excited to come to N.Y. this time. I was packing my bags and she came to my room. Normally doesn’t hang out in my room, but she was sniffing at my bag and looking at me like, ‘You’re taking me right?’” Little did Tardar Sauce know, she was the reason for the trip.
When Tardar Sauce is not on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, she likes to sunbathe, take cat naps, and play with her brother “Pokey” — who also has feline dwarfism. With such a tough life, we wondered if Grumpy Cat’s name reflects her personality. Not so, Tabatha revealed; Pokey is actually the grumpiest of the two. “Grumpy is happy,” she notes.
And there’s something about her perpetual frown that makes everyone smile — TIME editors included. And the sour humor might even be good for our health. Bryan Bundesen related a story he heard about Grumpy Cat’s healing powers: “There’s a lady we met in Texas who said she made Grumpy Cat a part of her cancer treatment. Every morning before she went to her chemotherapy, she would flip through pictures of Grumpy Cat, and it would help her get through it. And she’s in remission now.”