Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Cat Talent Manager

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Cat Talent Manager

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Sauerkraut has something Grumpy Cat lacks, Amy Bender said.

The seemingly disinterested Oklahoma City kitty doesn't rely on just one expression to drive online memes, she said. Sardonic bemusement, curiosity, mild disinterest - she's a virtual cornucopia of emotions, Bender said. It's Bender's job to be on hand throughout the day to capture those chuckle-driving moments and share them with the world.

"There's no other way to say this: She's a smart-***," Bender said. "She's always doing something, always keeping me on my toes."

Sauerkraut is one of five finalists in the Animal Planet television show competition, America's Next Cat Star, scheduled to debut May 2. Bender has been keeping an eye on her cat's opponents and handlers, noting their shticks and weaknesses. It's not that she wants any other dedicated animal-lover to fail, necessarily, but Bender does feel that the spotlight provides an opportunity too valuable to be squandered.

"That's really why we're doing this," she said. "We want to bring to light the struggle to place animals in good, permanent homes. I think Sauerkraut can make a difference."

Unlike most social media memes that burn brightly and briefly, the Grumpy Cat posts have continued since Tardar Sauce - Grumpy's real name - first frowned on the Reddit website in 2012. That cat has relied on a combination of genetic traits, primarily feline dwarfism and an underbite, which gives it the perfect expression of displeasure for so many human observations.

Sauerkraut has her own mix of handicaps that have worked well in creating a meme brand. Bender, a foster care provider for the Oklahoma Humane Society, adopted the cat when it became obvious that no one else wanted to deal with her heart murmur, facial deformities and feline hyperesthesia syndrome. The latter condition is an abnormal skin sensitivity that drives cats to frenetic behaviors such as self-scratching and biting - Bender keeps her dressed in kitty-size clothes to reduce Sauerkraut's anxiety. …

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