The biggest line on North Congress Avenue—one of the main arteries of Austin’s SXSW festival—wasn’t for a band or rockstar techie. No, it was for Grumpy Cat, the Internet’s most famous feline.
As fan after fan snapped a picture with Grumpy Saturday afternoon at Haus of Bacon (don’t ask, it’s SXSW), a plane flew overhead dragging a banner bearing her face. It’s been three years since the cat first blew up on Reddit, and sometimes it feels like the whole world is hers. Memes, commercials and brand-emblazoned products—she has done them all.
At Haus of Bacon, artist Jason Mecier was hard at work crafting a bust of Grumpy out of bacon. Portraits of the whole group of Internet-famous cats making appearances at SXSW lined the walls — some made from bits of bacon, and others from more traditional mediums.
Upstairs, Waffles the Scottish fold cat was prepping for his appearance. He circled the room cautiously, sniffing at the bacon and stranger-scented air.
Waffles’ owner Laine Lee said she thinks people flock to meet cats because even online, they appear to have unique personalities. Fans feel they know them. Grumpy Cat’s human Tabatha Bundesen said she has seen people cry tears of joy upon finally meeting her. Its a scene that invokes a frenzied boy band concert more than the solitary aloofness cat people have been ascribed for so long.
Just blocks from Haus of Bacon, I asked a few people on the street if they had heard of Grumpy Cat. They said no. I don’t know how that’s possible if you have ever been on the Internet, or even looked up at the sky in Austin this week. But at least the people in line to meet Grumpy won’t have to wait that extra hour.
Photos by Signe Brewster for ReadWrite