With the unexpected and untimely death of Grumpy Cat last week, owner Tabatha Bundesenwill feel not only emotional distress but also distress in her bank account. As far as legalities go, pet insurance doesn’t cover what a pet is worth but only the cost to purchase a similar pet. There are no special policies for ‘celebrity pet influencers.’
Tabatha Bundesen and her cat Tardar Sauce (AKA Grumpy Cat) made a small fortune since her frowning kitty took the internet by storm back in 2012. One figure shows Grumpy Cat was worth close to $99.5 million, although Tabatha was secretive about the actual amount.
There can be no more deals with companies such as Honey Nut Cheerios GIS or Friskies NSRGY or fan convention appearances. According to Loni Edwards, a lawyer and founder of The Dog Agency in New York City that represents pet influencers, a pet influencer on social media can earn between $3,000 and $15.000 if the pet has more than 100,000.
Edwards stated in an interview with Market Watch
“It’s going to be very hard. As these pet influencers die, there’s little you can do. They can’t do new campaigns or promote new products. It’s similar to what would happen if a human celebrity was killed. You can license their likeness, but in terms of doing new movies and news deals that has been closed up.
Your dog is essentially treated like a table under the law. That’s insane — they’re living breathing creatures. The law has not caught up with their role in society and how we view them.”
Pet insurance is designed to cover medical expenses and life insurance coverage to replace the pet at either the original cost or the current cost of the breed, according to insurance website TrustedChoice. It doesn’t take into account how much money the pet can generate through ‘influencing.’ Cost of cremation or a funeral may also be covered, depending on the insurance plan chosen by the owner.
There may also be limitations on pet insurance that covers the death of a pet. Hereditary diseases may not be covered. Whether Grumpy Cats death was hastened by a condition she was born with or whether she died of a sudden illness may determine whether a policy would pay out. Most cats live at least 15 years if in good health and barring an accident. Tardar Sauce died WAY before her time.
Edwards is working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to persuade lawmakers to classify pets as more than just property. She says these pets have personalities and distinct characters make them loved by millions of people. Pet insurance companies should realize you can’t replace one human with another and you can’t replace one pet with another.
I feel sad for Tabatha because she’s lost her cat. I also feel sad for Tardar Sauce because she never knew life as an ordinary cat. Hopefully, Tabatha has an investment plan where money was kept back and will tide her over for the near future.
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