What makes Grumpy Cat so special? Nothing, writes Greg Dixon. His cat is far cuter.

I want you to make our cat famous. Yes I know, I know, but bear with me.

She's called Sqweaky - yes, Sqweaky, because she squeaks rather than meows; there's no excuse for the spelling - and she is one of the funniest, most willful, most playful cats the missus and I have ever known.

For one thing, she likes to gallop - the cat, not the missus. She will careen madly and at high speed from one end of the house to the other, making a hell of a racket on the wooden floors as she goes. Then she turns around and gallops all the way back again. She does this, we think, for the sheer joy of running, but also because it makes a hell of a racket, which gains her attention. She does it unexpectedly too; she has a thought and then she just starts running. It's very funny to see.

Sometimes, however, she has a thought at 5am in the morning, which is somewhat less funny.


Other things Sqweaky likes: to stare at hedges for hours and hours for no apparent reason; to hide, sometimes for ages (she's very patient), behind doors and leap out at you unexpectedly as you finally walk past; to fall asleep with a front paw over her eyes.

I could go on, because she's quite bonkers - the Lady Gaga of cats, you might say - did I mention she's pretty, too; like a child's drawing of a cat? But I'll stop there.

My point is this: she deserves to be famous, she deserves to be a gazillionaire, she deserves to be in books, on calendars, to have her own website and Instagram account, to be a meme, to bring joy to the millions and millions of people who can't get enough of cats on the internet, because she's a whole boatload more interesting than the world's most famous and famously rich feline, Grumpy Cat.

When I read recently that Grumpy Cat - or at least Tabatha Bundesen of Morristown, Arizona (population 227), who is the owner of Grumpy Cat, whose real name is "Tardar Sauce" - had somehow amassed a $130 million fortune, I have to say I was mortified. And jealous! And outraged by the injustice!

This no-talent cat has, according to the Daily Mail, earned more than the genuinely talented, like Cameron Diaz and Matthew McConaughey.

It's not just the dosh.

The feline has more than 521,000 followers on Instagram and more than 255,000 on Twitter and her face appears on calendars, mugs, T-shirts and assorted other tat. Inevitably there was a book called - and gosh, what an original title - Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book. I've seen it; it's rubbish. So how it justified a follow-up, The Grumpy Guide To Life: Observations By Grumpy Cat, is a mystery. But the dollars have kept on rolling in. Grumpy Cat is now the "spokescat" for the cat food brand Friskies and late last year did a deal where she now has her own brand of iced coffee, Grumppuccino. Here's a question, do cats even drink iced coffee?

You'd think we'd reached peak Grumpy. Apparently not. In December, the thing made her "Hollywood debut" in Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever, a made-for-TV movie (I'm picking, in a crowded field, it's the worst Christmas movie ever).


Her owner, Bundesen, is thrilled. Of course she is. "I was able to quit my job as a waitress [at the Red Lobster] within days of her first appearance on social media," she says, "and the phone simply hasn't stopped ringing since."

How has all this happened? How has a cat come to give Kim Kardashian's bum a run for its money as the most ludicrously popular ludicrous thing on the web? How did a cat - and let's be clear, a cat that isn't even grumpy but was actually born looking like a sourpuss because of a form of cat dwarfism - become, arguably, the world's best-known animal and earned all that dosh?

Well I can tell you: sheer luck. But not just sheer luck either. There has been a very canny marketing brain, and his name is Ben Lashes. Lashes, who unsurprisingly lives in Los Angeles, is in "meme management", which sounds like a made-up job, except it isn't.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Lashes - real name Benjamin Clark - is an agent for internet cats. If a cat, for whatever reason, manages to get major traction on the internet, Lashes leaps in and offers to help strategise ways "to prolong, protect and monetise" the moggy.

He told the WSJ he has one question in mind: "What would Walt Disney do if he created Mickey Mouse and it went viral on YouTube?"

It seems to have worked for him. As well as Grumpy Cat, Lashes manages Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat. (He also reps for "Scumbag Steve", "Success Kid", "The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy" and "Doge").

Lashes isn't the only one cashing-in on internet cats. One Patricia Carlin has not long published How To Make Your Cat An Internet Celebrity: A Guide To Financial Freedom. She says the key thing is that Grumpy Cat's owners realised that the guiding principle of the 21st century global economy can be summed up in a single sentence: "no financial opportunity will give you a greater return on investment than your cat".

How To Make Your Cat An Internet Celebrity is, of course, a meta-joke. Still, for a joke about a joke, Carlin has managed to spin it out to 120-plus pages of what seems like pretty good advice for the aspiring owner of a spokescat.

"You'll need to be a talent scout, a publicist, a savvy producer, a keen-eyed director, a somewhat competent editor and a save-all-receipts manager if you want your cat to become a revenue-generating meme. It's definitely a lot of work."

Well it's work Sqweaky and I are prepared to do.

I have drawn up a list of her talents. These include galloping, hiding and leaping out, hedge-staring, sleeping, eating, nagging for more food, scratching and biting, lying on her back with her legs in the air, looking mad, jumping on the bed to wake you up and, of course, squeaking.

She is willing to endorse the following: all kinds of expensive food, wine, cars, airlines, clothing, watches, Apple products, hotel chains, luxury clothing brands (particularly Italian ones), multinational banking and merchant banking corporations, political parties with very large donor bases, oh, and cat food.

All serious offers will be considered. No tyre kickers.

And finally I have a message for you, Mr Lashes: Grumpy Cat is so 2014; Sqweaky is the future of Lolz.