For many people, cats are a beloved (albeit occasionally aloof) family companion. For a lucky few however, they are the generator of thousands of dollars in ad revenue. You’ve probably found yourself laughing at the antics of a cat at least one point in your life, but have you ever stopped to consider the financial rewards rolling into said cat’s owner? With some reportedly earning up to $100 million from ad revenue and brand partnerships, the world of entertaining cat videos is nothing to turn your nose up at (although Grumpy Cat might). Without further ado, here are three top earning cats that may have you considering a career change:
- Grumpy Cat
With her permanently unimpressed expression, Grumpy Cat soared to popularity in 2012 when a photograph of her was posted on social news website Reddit. Since then she’s gone from strength to strength, accumulating millions of video views and becoming the ambassador for brands including Cheerios and Friskies cat food. She was even the star of a feature film entitled Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. All this is good news for owner Tabatha Bundesen, who has reportedly earned up to $100 million in proceeds.
- Lil Bub
Lil Bub’s unique protruding tongue has made her an internet star on platforms including YouTube and Facebook. Her owner, Mike Bridavsky, collects approximately $30,000 a year from YouTube royalties, but the real money derives from a series of brand partnerships, merchandise sales and guest appearances, not to mention proceeds from her star turn in the documentary Lil BUB & Friendz. Industry experts put Bridavsky’s income at over $1 million.
Maru is one of the original internet famous cats due to his penchant for jumping in boxes. His owner, who has never revealed their identity and lives in an undisclosed city in Japan, first started posting videos of Maru in 2009 and has since accumulated over 250 million YouTube views. Earning his owner approximately $180,000 in annual ad revenue, Maru has turned sitting in boxes into a very lucrative career.
There’s no doubt that these three felines have made their owners very happy, but before you rush to upload a video of your own furry friend you should be aware of the monetary considerations. Firstly, Google typically takes a 40% cut of any revenue you may generate. Secondly, in 2015 the ATO ruled that anyone who makes income from YouTube is a ‘performing artist’ (or at least their cat is), meaning any proceeds are subject to income tax. They do however acknowledge the fluctuating nature of this sort of income, meaning if one video goes viral and the owner receives an unusually high amount of ad revenue, they can apply to have their taxable income averaged over several years. In this way the ATO treats them similarly to other special professionals like sportspeople or authors.
For most people however, uploading images of their cat is just an enjoyable pastime unlikely to earn anything more than internet likes. Our very own #TigertheTaxCat has built up a name for himself over the years, and is much loved around the office for providing a humorous take on important tax topics. So happy International Cat Day to all the feline lovers out there, whether they earn you a second income or not!
— Diana Winfield (@taxchat) July 31, 2017