The loss of a treasured pet is always a serious blow. But if your furry friend is also your business, their death is doubly upsetting. The social media age had led to many cats and dogs becoming internet sensations. The most popular pets generate huge incomes for their owners, but those incomes can’t be protected by life insurance.
The feline celebrity
Grumpy Cat was probably the most famous moggy on the planet. A feline celebrity, the cat whose real name was Tardar Sauce, rose to fame when her photo went viral in 2012. Sadly, Grumpy Cat died recently, delivering a serious setback to the finances of her owner.
Over the past 7 years, Grumpy Cat became one of the most recognisable animals on the planet and garnered marketing deals with several brands. She also starred in a TV movie and her likeness featured on a variety of products sold through her online shop. She attended many fan conventions and her fame was based purely on her sour-faced look.
No financial compensation
Owner Tabatha Bundesen had been unable to insure her memorable kitty. There are no life insurance policies which are designed to cover financial loses if a pet, who is also an income generator, dies prematurely. Pet life insurance does exist but merely compensates owners for the purchase price of the animal or the cost of replacing them.
There is little that owners of pet influencers can do to protect their most important asset. It isn’t known exactly how much wealth Grumpy Cat has generated over the last 7 years, but rumours suggest that the cat may have earned Tabatha as much as $99.5 million. Tabatha disputes this suggestion. The fabulous feline definitely earned her owner over $700,000 when they won a lawsuit against a company which had breached its licensing agreement.
Even a modestly successful pet influencer can expect to earn up to $15,000 for a single social media post, if they have more than 100,000 followers. Grumpy Cat benefitted from millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram. Tabatha could continue to license her cat’s likeness, but new promotional campaigns are off the table.
Waitress turned business women
Tabatha Bundesen had been working as a waitress when Grumpy Cat became an overnight sensation. Tabatha quit her job almost immediately to establish Grumpy Cat Limited. The cat’s unusual scowl was caused by a combination of feline dwarfism and an underbite. Such was her fame that Madame Tussauds in San Francisco created and displayed a wax model of the much-loved moggy.
Grumpy Cat’s demise raises interesting questions about pet influencers. Establishing their online presence and gaining licensing deals takes time and effort. The pet becomes a business which provides an income for their owner. However, everything stops when the animal dies. The business’s primary asset can’t be insured, leaving owners exposed to the sudden loss of their income.
There are many pet influencers making big bucks now and it would be interesting to find out how their owners tackle the uncertain nature of their futures.