With over three million fans on social media, an online store of merchandise featuring her face, and a name recognized across the country, Lil BUB isn’t your average celebrity cat. Her big eyes and small stature have captured the hearts of millions, and her story has gone on to bring hope and change in the world of animal advocacy. She’s a spoiled house kitty now, but the famous feline hasn’t forgotten that life wasn’t always this good.
In 2011, BUB’s owner, Mike Bridavsky, was shown a picture of a tiny, bug-eyed kitten. His friend found the alien-looking creature in a tool shed. She was part of a litter of feral kittens, but mama cat was nowhere to be found. While BUB’s siblings were strong and healthy, the runt of the litter was obviously struggling.
Mike decided to offer the kitten home, but she needed serious medical care. At only a few weeks old, BUB had a multitude of genetic anomalies. For starters, she’s a perma-kitten, which means she’ll never grow out of her kitten-like features or size. Then there’s the dwarfism, shortened lower jaw, teeth that never grew in, and four extra toes. While these “deformities” give BUB her adorable looks, a rare bone condition called osteopetrosis threatened her life.
Osteopetrosis causes bones to grow denser with age. At only a year and a half old, BUB could barely move. It wasn’t until Bridavsky discovered Pulsed Electromagnet Field Therapy that BUB began to recover. Her special therapy has changed her life, and she now jumps, runs, and plays like every cat should. And to make her even more special, BUB is the only cat in recorded history diagnosed with osteopetrosis.
Lil BUB’s abnormalities caught the attention of the public, and she went from an average cat to a celebrity before her owner knew what was happening. Determined to keep all the fame from going to his cat’s adorable head, Bridavsky went on to use the platform created by BUB’s fame to help cats in need.
BUB continuously spreads a message of acceptance and compassion while being an advocate for shelter cats, cats with special needs, and feral cats with bad reputations. Bridavsky told iHeartcats,
“It wasn’t until BUB unexpectedly became famous that I came to realize that 5 of my cats were feral when I took them in, one was adopted from a rescue, and all of them had their own varying level of “special needs”. I’m naturally drawn to pets that need special care because I enjoy a sense of purpose, I want to help those in need, and I particularly appreciate the very special kind of love that only a rescue pet can provide. And for that reason, I chose to share the message of adoption, spaying and neutering, and special care for special pets along with amazing photos and videos of my amazing cat from the very start.”
BUB has raised over $200,000 for cats in need through partnerships with charities and businesses like the #HaloFeedItForward movement that donates meals to shelter cats with every purchase of Halo cat food. She (and her human) wants everyone to know that feral cats and cats with special needs deserve the same respect and treatment as pampered show cats. National Feral Cat Day is October 17, and she hopes to spend the day spreading her message that kitten or cat, feral or faithful pet, every cat deserves a chance.