BY MIKE LEONARD
The Lil Bub phenomenon could have been as short-lived as the buzz for the latest hip-hop artist or YouTube video. Instead, just the opposite is proving to be true.
“I don’t think of her as a viral sensation at all,” says her owner, Mike Bridavsky, known as Lil Bub’s Dude. “She has a pretty growing fan base. She’s not a joke you see for a few months and goes away.”
Since the Bloomington recording-studio owner rescued the tiny kitten with several genetic mutations from a toolshed outside of town two years ago, her fame has spread in ways unimaginable. She’s been declared the Cutest Cat in the World by Good Morning America, posed with actor Robert De Niro, and been the subject of a documentary that won the Best Online Feature Film award at the Tribeca Film Festival.
In early September, Lil Bub’s Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet was released by Gotham Books, an imprint of the giant Penguin Group, and hundreds turned out at the famed Strand Book Store in New York City for a Bub book signing.
From there, it was off to San Francisco for an exhibition at Spoke Art Gallery, where more than 50 artists displayed original works depicting Bloomington’s most famous cat. Up next, it was off to another San Francisco gallery for a book signing, documentary showing, and band showcase put on by Burger Records. And after that, it was down the coast to Los Angeles for an appearance on daytime television’s The Doctors.
There’s no slowing down in sight, Bridavsky says. Urban Outfitters stores will be carrying Lil Bub’s new calendar, holiday cards, and other Bub-mania items for the holiday season. The Animal Planet television channel wants to do a holiday special on Bub as well.
Could the news get any better? Indeed, it could. Not only have Bub and her Dude raised more than $70,000 for animal welfare charities with much more on the way—the developmentally challenged feline actually is getting healthier and stronger, defying the initial prognosis that the lovable, toothless, tongue-forward “perma-kitten” would likely lead a short life.
“She’s the only cat in recorded history to have been born with osteopetrosis,” Bridavsky says. That attracted the attention of a researcher who developed a treatment regimen that is improving Bub’s overall health and mobility.
“Bub’s always been very lovable and affectionate. But she had a hard time moving around. Now she’s running and jumping—something she could never do,” Bridavsky says. “I know the treatment is helping her but I can’t help but think that it’s also all of the positivity and how everyone’s rooting for her and inspired by her. Traveling actually is good for her. It helps break up the large cells that are created by her osteopetrosis. She’s great—and I’m exhausted.”