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Grumpy Cat's adoring fans turn out in droves to see perpetually frowning feline

Tabatha Bundesen of Arizona holds her famous feline, Grumpy Cat, before debuting the new BuzzFeed video Tuesday at Tampa Theatre, where hundreds gathered to see the sensation. For a video report from the event, visit tampabay.com/video.
Tabatha Bundesen of Arizona holds her famous feline, Grumpy Cat, before debuting the new BuzzFeed video Tuesday at Tampa Theatre, where hundreds gathered to see the sensation. For a video report from the event, visit tampabay.com/video.
Published Aug. 5, 2015

TAMPA — The doormen locked the entrance while the line outside Tampa Theatre snaked around the building and around the corner and around the next block, more than 500 strong.

As the sun beat down Tuesday evening, they all gathered downtown to catch the premiere of Happiness Finds Grumpy Cat, the latest video production starring the aforementioned feline, whose eternal scowl has made her an Internet phenomenon.

"We thought we were going to be early," said Margaret Dorroh, 71, who piled three grandchildren into the car at 8:15 a.m. and drove nine hours to get to the premier from Savannah, Ga.

Dorroh and the grandchildren were far from the front of the line, where only the first 150 people got to see Grumpy for free.

"But at least we'll find out what this movie is about," she said.

"I'm like the biggest Grumpy Cat fan," said Joy Sutkus, 45, who carted her daughters Miley and Sierra from Davenport, nearly an hour away. "I'm crazy."

"Grumpy's really cool," added Christine Gibson, 58, who passed the time outside by chatting about the dangers of declawing among her fellow feline fans. "I don't know why she always frowns, though."

Indeed, everyone had an explanation for their adoration — including Grumpy Cat, whose perpetually furrowed face is the result of a medical condition, feline dwarfism.

Born as Tartar Sauce, the cat rocketed to stardom when her owner's brother posted a photo of the frowning kitten in September 2012 on the popular website Reddit, according to Grumpy Cat's owner and spokesperson Tabatha Bundesen.

Bundesen, 30, said her daughter plucked the cat from a litter because she was cute.

When Grumpy struck it big in 2013, Bundesen quit waiting tables in Arizona and formed a company with her brother to promote the kitten's talents.

But what are those talents? Wisdom? Empathy? Finding the cold spot on a pillow?

"People can be rude and say nasty things and Grumpy's face on it," Bundesen explained. "You can express your frustration through Grumpy."

Still, the Tampa Bay Times was curious. Hoping to better understand Grumpy, a reporter asked a series of questions on stage before the premiere.

Bundesen translated Grumpy's reactions to the questions. Grumpy, however, appeared to scowl during the entire interview while lying motionless upon her throne, a plush red bed.

Times: What's your stance on legalizing catnip?

Bundesen: "She's not interested in catnip."

Times: Will you be going to see Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World in Orlando?

Bundesen: "Hopefully?"

Times: How does Grumpy feel about the thought experiment that involves radiation and kittens, better known as Schrodinger's cat?

Bundesen (pause): Who's Schrodinger?

Times: Describe your ideal Sunday.

Bundesen: "Just like any other day. Cat naps. All day."

Contact Zack Peterson at zpeterson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3368. Follow @zackpeterson918.