Cats and the Internet go together like fire and kindling — that is to say, they’re “hot.” Consequently, a lot of the more virally famous kitties seem a little, shall we say, “mainstream” for more indie-leaning tastes. Yes, that genre is decidedly choked with saccharine clips and snaps of overly coiffed cats leaping out of boxes, “ninja”-ing around corners and doling out (obviously) rehearsed hugs to their progeny, and although those among the hipster set might tweet a puss for the sake of “irony,” there really hasn’t been a creature worthy of tattooing on one’s arm in the feline oeuvre. Until now. Meet Lil Bub, the super unique perma kitten who lives in a recording studio, hangs with bands and has been spotted emblazoned on totes carried by the denizens of Brooklyn’s most alt trains.
Like many a struggling artist, Lil Bub resides in an unconventional living space, Russian Recording Studios in Bloomington, Indiana. She shares the space with four other roommates (all cats), having moved in after the owner of the studio, Mike Bridavsky, (finally!) got his own place.
Bridavsky — who acts as Bub’s manager — first met the cat after a friend texted him a snap of Bub. “She looked insane,” Bridavsky says. “As a kitten she looked really wild. I was like, ‘Oh God, I have to at least meet this cat.’” And meet her, he did. He even gave the kitty her rather masculine-sounding name (apparently, Bub was pretty androgynous in her younger days. “She’s so small you couldn’t really tell what was going on down there,” Bridavsky says).
As you can see from the above portrait, Bub is a lot like luminaries such as Mick Jagger and Steve Tyler, in that her appeal lies in her untraditional — some might even say “ugly” — appearance. Although she came from a normal litter, a series of genetic mutations have rendered her a dwarf with short limbs, a long, lean body, no teeth and a sticky-outy tongue. You might call her the proverbial “black sheep” of her litter — the punk with multi-colored hair born from a family of J. Crew wearers.
Seeing beauty in Bub’s decidedly “non-mainstream” appearance, Bridavsky decided to share her with the rest of the world — through that most viral of blogging platforms, Tumblr, of course. In April, Bub blew up when a picture of the kitty licking a phantom ice cream cone went viral (See? We said Tumblr was “that most viral of blogging platforms” right up there), garnering 40,000+ notes on Tumblr, as well as a memeified image (plus ice cream cone) that hit the front page of Reddit. T-shirts were made. Tote bags were printed. A legend was born.
When Bub was written up on Buzzfeed, Bridavsky knew she had made it. “I never expected to have a famous cat,” he muses. “I’ve been playing music and recording bands for 15 years and the thing that’s getting the most attention is my weird cat,” he says, claiming not to be jealous of the tiny star.
“Bub is an alternative animal,” Bridavsky says, adding that the kitten is pretty popular in the rock ‘n’ roll and tattoo community. Bridavsky — who has a tattoo of a Russian crest featuring his other four cats — recently adorned his body with an image of Bub, proudly holding Gandalf’s (of Lord of the Rings fame) sword.
Bridavsky also reports that business at the studio has been booming since Bub got famous (although he doesn’t think that the two events are linked in any way), and bands have been itching to meet the cult cat hero.
“King Tuff just played here at the studio on Friday and they showed up and they were already like, ‘Hey, what do you guys know about Bub?’ And I go, ‘Yeah, that’s my cat.’ And they go, ‘Can we meet her?’” Bridavsky reports. Lil B (forget that other dude, this feline owns the name now) is also slated to be in a music video for The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, and has been offered a bevy of other opportunities that Bridavsky could not yet comment on.
There has been a drawback to Bub’s rapidly burgeoning fame, however, and that drawback is that she has attracted the attention of, shall we say, “the wrong element.”
“I’m not a crazy cat person,” Bridavsky says. “I don’t go on the Internet looking for cats — there’s that whole scene of cat-obsessed people. Now that Bub is huge people send me photos of their cats every day. That’s fine, but I’m not that interested in other people’s cats.”
We feel you dude. We feel you.
CORRECTION: Apparently, Bub does not live in the studio, but with her manager. We’re a little disappointed.