Bridavsky revealed the news on social media Monday alongside the first and last photos he took with Bub. He said Bub “unexpectedly passed away peacefully in her sleep,” and although he acknowledged Bub had been battling an bone infection, he said he didn’t think Bub would die so soon. “I truly believe that she willingly made the decision to leave her failing body so that our family would not have to make that difficult decision ourselves,” Bridavsky wrote.
— Lil BUB (@IAMLILBUB) December 2, 2019
Bub was born in 2011, the runt of feral litter; she had various medical issues and struggled to find a home. She was a “perma-kitten” with an extreme case of dwarfism, which stunted her growth and left her limbs much shorter than the rest of her body. She boasted a pair of remarkably large green eyes, and because her lower jaw was shorter than her upper jaw — and because her teeth never grew in — her tongue constantly dangled out of her mouth (hence the persistent blep). On top of all that, Bub was also polydactyl, with one extra toe on each paw.
Not long after Bridavsky adopted Bub, he started a Tumblr to share photos of her, which quickly went viral and launched Lil Bub into the pantheon of Internet cats, alongside the likes of Grumpy Cat and Nyan Cat.
Soon, Bub was appearing on daytime TV, anchoring a documentary on Internet cats, Lil Bub and Friendz, releasing a book, Lil Bub’s Lil Book, and even starring in her own web talk show, Lil Bub’s Big Show.
Bridavsky also launched a Bub merch store and shuttled her to meet-and-greets around the country, often with the aim of raising money for animal shelters and other humane societies (Bridavsky noted she helped raise more than $700,000 for animals in need). With her fame, Bridavsky was also able to find a suitable and effective treatment for the rare bone disease Bub developed, osteopetrosis, which made it difficult for her to move.
Because Bridavsky was a recording engineer, Bub also became a fixture in the music world. She “collaborated” with Run the Jewels, Andrew W.K. and Kelley Deal, and, in 2015, released her own album, Science & Magic: A Soundtrack to the Universe. She also corralled 50 artists — including Thurston Moore, Oh Sees, Of Montreal and Godspeed You! Black Emperor — to contribute to a charity compilation benefitting efforts to counter anti-LGBTQ laws in Indiana.
Bub’s biggest impact, however, was on her owner. In a 2014 Spin profile, Bridavsky noted that Bub’s fame literally saved him from financial ruin after the studio he’d built in Bloomington, Indiana, went bankrupt.
In the note announcing Bub’s death, Bridavsky said, “It is impossible to put into words the profound effect that Bub has had on my life, on the lives of thousands of homeless pets, and on the lives of those of you that have cared for her as if she were your own family. She taught me everything that I know about unconditional love, she brought my wife Stacy and I together, she’s the reason we have our beautiful children Rosco and Lula, and she has been a constant source of warmth and love in our lives for the past eight years.”