BLOOMINGTON — One small thing can make a big difference.
That’s the lesson one Monroe County couple learned from their tiny but mighty feline friend while she was alive.
You may even recognize her — Lil BUB.
The once viral internet sensation and celebrity cat stole the attention of many during the 2010s and still holds a special place their hearts to this day.
What made BUB a one of a kind critter?
Well, besides her big, bulging wondering green eyes and her hanging tongue, she was born with a multitude of health conditions.
They included dwarfism and polydactyly, and a rare bone disease called osteopetrosis.
She was also a “perma-kitten” — meaning she stayed kitten-sized and maintained her kitten-like features her entire life.
Mike adopted BUB in late 2011.
She was discovered as the runt of a feral litter in rural Unionville, Indiana.
He says she reminded him of Gizmo from Gremlins or the bear from the Snuggle commercials — too cute to be real.
“She was so unique. She was so different. That’s what made her who she was. A lot of her closest fans are people with disabilities or people who feel like they don’t fit in. She was truly a source of real inspiration to people," Bridavski said.
Mike started a blog for BUB in the beginning of 2012.
It only took about six months for her to gain national recognition, after a photo went viral on the internet.
A book, a calendar deal, TV shows and much more later, he says the message behind BUB is to celebrate our differences.
“She was truly a source of incredibly powerful, positive energy. That’s coming from a pessimist. Someone who’s grumpy and grouchy all the time and she changed my life. You never know when someone can come around like that and be a true source of good," Bridavski said.
BUB passed away on December 1, 2019.
She was eight years old.
In her honor, the Bridavskis created the nonprofitLil BUB’s Big FUND for Special Needs Pets, which has raised over one million dollars for animals in need.
Stacy says they’re the first special needs focused animal welfare fund in the country.
“BUB really transformed the landscape for special needs pets and allowed us to see that even though these animals are the most difficult to care for. They’re usually at the highest risk of euthanasia, they’re the most expensive to care for, they require a lot of time to care for. Their lives do have value," she said.
The nonprofit does intersectional work with social service agencies and animal welfare agencies.
They work with who they consider some of the most overlooked people and pets — unhoused populations, survivors of domestic violence, those struggling with mental health or substance use disorders.
Stacy says special needs pets can play a role in giving these people a sense of home and safety.
“One person makes a difference. One small gesture makes a difference. Talking about this tiny, tiny cat who was born in a very small town in Indiana. Look at the impact that she’s had and the connections she’s made and those things are very real. It’s a testament to the power of one small thing," Bridavski said.
A celebration of BUB’s life was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and delays.
Now, four years later, a memorial called 'Remembering Lil BUB' will take place at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre on February 3 and 4.
The weekend will include theater screenings of the award-winning documentary Lil BUB and Friendz, Lil BUB’s Special Special, and more.
Sunday afternoon will be a day of celebration with live music, storytelling, and the opportunity to meet BUB’s Space-Brother, Mister Marbles.
Tickets are available for purchase here [usw2.nyl.as].