Pusheen is a cartoon cat who is the subject of comic strips, plush toys, vinyl figures, sticker sets, and more on Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, iMessage, YouTube, and other social media platforms. Pusheen was created in 2010 by Claire Belton and Andrew Duff for a comic strip on their website, Everyday Cute. More recently, the Pusheen character has been used in social media posts and on the Pusheen blog.
On the official Pusheen website (Pusheen.com), Pusheen is described as being a female fictional cat who loves blogging, snacking, and going on adventures. The original comic strip series included characters modeled after Belton, Duff, their dog named Carm (short for “Carmen”), and Pusheen, a chubby grey tabby cat based on Belton's cat that now lives with her parents in Oregon. Pusheen's name stems from the word puisín, which means kitten in Irish. Occasionally, Pusheen and her sister Stormy are drawn in different themes, such as Pusheenosaurus Rex, where Pusheen is a dinosaur and Stormy is in a dinosaur egg. She can also be a Pusheenicorn, Purrmaid, and many other themes. Pusheen has a mom named Sunflower, a dad named Biscuit, a sister named Stormy, a brother named Pip, and an array of furry friends, including Sloth the sloth, Bo the parakeet, and Cheek the hamster.
Pusheen first appeared in May 2010 in the comic strip "Pusheen Things" on Claire Belton and Andrew Duff's website, Everyday Cute. In 2011, Belton and Duff launched a spin-off site dedicated to Pusheen. In 2013, Belton published I Am Pusheen The Cat, a collection of comic strips featuring Pusheen. In 2021, Belton published a sequel, The Many Lives of Pusheen the Cat.
Pusheen has become well known for appearing in sticker sets on Facebook, where stickers are images that can be attached to personal messages or comments. The stickers feature, including a set of Pusheen stickers, was introduced to Android in April 2013, and added to the main Facebook website in July of the same year. In an article for PC Magazine on emoji and unicode, Sascha Segan referred to Pusheen as Facebook's "proprietary emoji", being used as a form of vendor lock-in. In April 2017, the Pusheen Corporation acquired office space in the Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The offices are used as a workspace for artists and photographers.
Pusheen is an example of the popularity of cats on the Internet. An exhibition at the New York City Museum of the Moving Image examined the phenomenon, highlighting Pusheen alongside other celebrity cats such as Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. The Facebook page for Pusheen has over 9.2 million fans as of February 2019. The brand has expanded with merchandise, including an app. Pusheen has expanded and moved beyond just Facebook to take part in multiple social media platforms, including Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. This cartoon cat also has many fan pages within the platforms, as well as blogs dedicated to celebrating the comic. Its popularity has even allowed the Pusheen Corp to create an app that is an expansion of their sticker collection that started on Facebook. Each social media account that is officially owned by the creators of Pusheen has gained over a million followers. Due to this rise in popularity, the company has started releasing GIFs on their website several times a month.
The Pusheen GIFs on Facebook include Pusheens resembling desserts. They also have Pusheens eating food such as pizza and donuts. Pusheens are even used at sign-in tables for events in Bellingham, Washington, often on the sign displaying the activity name. LaVenture Middle School in Mount Vernon, Washington sold Pusheen posters at a Scholastic book fair to raise funding. Pusheen.com has a self-quiz to show what kind of Pusheen fan you are.
The Pusheen corporation started selling Pusheen merchandise after the popularity of the cat took off in July 2010. The first Pusheen merchandise was sold on the Everyday Cute website as a charm keychain and necklace. From there, the merchandising expanded. In 2014, Gund developed an interest in the cartoon cat and became the manufacturer for Pusheen's plush toys and blind boxes, which helped the brand take off. Now, Pusheen Corp has teamed up with many brands to create and sell merchandise in stores, including retailer-specific items. Pusheen Corp has many current retailers, including Hot Topic, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Claire's, Petco, Walmart, Target, FYE, and Gund. Pusheen also has a Funko Pop! line that consists of various styles of vinyl figures. Pusheen Corp expanded their merchandising to the website formerly known as Hey Chickadee, which was rebranded as The Pusheen Shop in April 2019. The website features merchandise collections dedicated to the cartoon cat, which includes plush toys, clothing, home decor, and various accessories. A quarterly subscription box, called the Pusheen Box, filled with Pusheen Products, is also available.
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