I’m gathering info for Happy Cat, AKA the I Can Has Cheezburger cat.
Wikipedia and 4chan both claim that the I Can Has Cheezburger image originated on the Something Awful forums.
Happycat is one of the older SA memes, dating back to early 2003 when it was discovered by Fancycat and a truckload of other goons,
I’m still hunting down the original thread, but while doing so, I stumbled across this:
It’s a Russian catfood company called “Happy Cat” that used this image on their website in 2003. But the strange part is that the site only uses the cat’s head. Because of this, it is unlikely that whomever created the I Can Has Cheezburger image got the pic from the Russian site. The Russian Happy Cat has no background, but most other derivatives seem to be based on this other picture.
I’ll post more as I find it.