The Instagram-celebrity cat Lil BUB’s rise to fame was a surprise to her owner, but together the two are rallying support for special needs pets around the world.
Mike Bridavsky was known in his community for his appreciation of cats — especially those with unique stories. But when a friend reached out about a half-pound, 18-week-old kitten who would require a lot of care, Bridavsky wasn’t sure he was going to be able to take on another pet. And yet, after meeting the now-famous cat Lil BUB, Bridavsky couldn’t say no.
“She has to be bottle-fed because of the shape of her mouth,” Bridavsky says, explaining some of the feline’s unique requirements for care. Before meeting Bridavsky, BUB bounced around a couple of homes. Special needs care can be timely and expensive for many pet owners and shelters.
“I wasn’t ready for another cat, but this critter looked so amazing and she curled into my arms and started purring,” he remembers. “I just picked her up and said, ‘Hey, BUB,’ and that’s how we came to be.”
After sharing photos of BUB with his community, a friend of Bridavsky’s made some T-shirts for a small event — proceeds of which were donated to a local shelter. So, when a photo of BUB went viral around the same time, Bridavsky posted a link to the shirts. Shortly after, BUB was an internet sensation, and Bridavsky had an online store on his hands. “I wanted to find a way to distribute all the money we were raising,” he says.
Bridavsky developed a partnership with the ASPCA to establish Lil BUB’S Big FUND, a national fund that provides grants to shelters with special-needs pets. To date, the grant has provided more than $400,000 in funds to shelters. The fund is the most applied-for grant in ASPCA history, demonstrating a pressing need for special needs services for pets in shelters.
Zoe Alexander, [email protected]