Lil Bub, officially Lil BUB, June 21, 2011 – December 1, 2019, was an American celebrity cat known for her unique physical appearance. She had big round eyes and a tongue that was always sticking out. Equal parts adorable and strange-looking, this kitty made a splash on the cat-loving website Reddit. She was rescued when she was a kitten from behind a tool shed in Indiana. Lil BUB wasn’t alone though, she had her feral mother and siblings. But, she was the runt of the litter and it was pretty clear she needed some extra care.
Why did Lil BUB look like that?
Lil BUB was born with several genetic mutations that required special care — she had to be bottle fed — which made it tough to get her adopted. Her extreme feline dwarfism caused her limbs and lower jaw to be smaller than normal, especially in proportion to the rest of her body. Her small lower jaw caused her to stick her tongue out.
Lil BUB also suffered from osteopetrosis, which she took medication for and had vibration treatments to break down the painful osteoclasts. The osteopetrosis and her little legs made her waddle around, adding to the cuteness. And, she was a polydactyl cat, meaning she had a couple of extra digits.
A group of people crowd-funded to pay for a genome sequence to better understand her look. Scientists examined her and found she had a mutation in the gene RANK/TNFRSF11A which she shared with one mouse and only about fifteen human beings.
Within her first year, the kitty’s condition worsened and she had a difficult time moving around. But, thanks to her fame, fans suggested trying alternative treatment. They discovered a very effective treatment with a device called the Assisi Loop, which uses Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy.
Rise to fame
Lil BUB’s difficulty getting adopted led her to Mike Bridavsky, who was friends with her foster family. He first posted her photos to Tumblr in November 2011, before being taken off after being featured on the social news website Reddit.
After reaching the front page of Reddit, Lil BUB skyrocketed to internet fame, landing her on Good Morning America and getting her a book deal, a friendship with Robert De Niro, a special guest appearance on The View and her own primetime Animal Planet special, Lil BUB’s Special Special. She has made cameos in music video’s and produced a solo single for the Breeders’ Kelley. Lil BUB also worked with Jack Black on a project called Earth to Marrakech.
Lil Bub starred in Lil Bub & Friendz, a documentary that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2013, and won the Tribeca Online Festival Best Feature Film. Her social accounts are still going strong with millions of likes.
How much money did Lil BUB make in her lifetime?
Mr Bridavsky said she helped raise more than $700,000 (£540,000) for animal charities during her lifetime. Despite having the opportunity to, he never capitalized off of her fame, and even turned down an offer by Grumpy Cat’s agent. Bridavsky used the profits to pay off some studio rent, cover her medical bills, and donated the rest to animal charities. The fundraiser, Lil BUB’s Big Fund, is still in effect.
Lil BUB’s furry friends
Being a celebrity means having famous friends. This little kitty used to rub shoulders with the likes of Tuna the Chiweenie, Marnie the Dog and Grumpy Cat. She was constantly travelling around the country, doing meet n’ greets, and hanging out with other, internet famous animals. Apparently, she was an excellent traveller. Bridavsky has said, “She loves to travel and gladly sits on her dude’s lap in cabs, subways, planes and even his shoulder as he walks around outside. Her dude owns 4 other wonderful adopted cats, but would never dream of even taking them for a car ride, as they would lose their minds (as would most cats). But as a space traveller, this is nothing for her.”
Bub passed away when she was 8 years old, and left an impressive legacy in her wake. Her family said, “On December 1st, 2019, Lil BUB left our planet after battling a severe bone infection in her jaw. Since then, our family chose to continue her legacy by acquiring Lil BUB’s Big FUND from the ASPCA and making it into our own 501c3 non-profit organization.” RIP Bub. You will be missed.