What Happened to Tater Tot? The Viral TikTok Kitty Has Passed Away

Tater Tot was a kitten with special needs that became popular on TikTok. Here's everything we know about his tragic passing in August 2023.

Kelly Corbett - Author

Aug. 4 2023, Published 10:56 a.m. ET

The gist:

  • Tater Tot was a special needs kitten who captured the hearts of thousands of people on the internet.
  • Unfortunately, Tater Tot passed away in August 2023.
  • Tater Tot had become severely ill very quickly and was being treated for pneumonia at the time of his death.
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Similar to Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub, Tater Tot was an adorable kitten turned social media superstar.

Known for his messy hair and assortment of colorful casts, Tater Tot was a special needs kitten born with a severe cleft palate and malformation of all four legs.

His foster mom, Ash Houghton, who is the co-director of a Salt Lake-based rescue named Kitty CrusAIDe, began sharing videos of him in June 2023 on the rescue’s TikTok account (@kittycrusaide) to help raise awareness for animals who were built differently. Users became obsessed with the spud-sized little guy.

But in August 2023, Tater Tot passed away unexpectedly. “We will miss this spunky potato,” Ash wrote alongside a video commemorating his life.

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Upon hearing the news, fans of Tater Tot were understandably devastated. “I’m literally crying,” wrote one user.

Another said: “Thank you so much for sharing him. He will never truly die. He lives on in our hearts.”

So, what did Tater Tot die of? We share more details below.

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What was wrong with Tater Tot?

In a Facebook post, Ash elaborated more on Tater Tot's tragic passing, claiming that he passed away while she was holding him in her hands.

His exact cause of death isn't inherently clear, but she explains that he suddenly grew very ill and was being treated for pneumonia at the time of his death.

"His energy had been slowly decreasing over the last week or so, and we were hoping it was an illness that antibiotics could treat. He also started showing signs of pneumonia a few days ago, and I started pneumonia protocol with meds and a nebulizer," she wrote.

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Ash explained that he may have also had a heart condition, but he was too small for the vet to run any tests on him. "I truly think he had an enlarged heart, and it just couldn’t keep up with him," she wrote, adding, "One moment he was walking around, and the next he was gone."

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Ash continued to capitalize on Tater Tot's impact.

"I hope that his resilience during his short time here continues to inspire people. He was dealt a really tough hand with multiple health concerns, but he didn’t let that slow him down. He showed us that even if we have some struggles, there is always something to fight toward," she wrote.

In honor of his passing, Ash asked that fans make a donation to their local shelter in his name. "Please help his life continue to impact other animals in the world," she said.

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