Lil Bub Dead, Viral Celebrity Cat Passed Away In Her Sleep

America's favorite internet feline was eight years old.

meme cat lil bub on a far-out background
Joyful Noise Recordings / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0 Cropped and Resized)

America's favorite internet feline was eight years old.

Lil Bub, one of the first cats to go viral on the internet due to her precious appearance and uplifting backstory, has passed away at the age of 8, TMZ reports. The animal died peacefully in her sleep.

Health Issues And Deformities

The odds were stacked against Lil Bub from the moment she was born. The runt of the litter birthed to a feral mother, the animal had a number of physical deformities and health conditions that made it difficult for her to find a forever home.

However, her human, Mike Bridavsky, was smitten with the sickly animal almost from the word “go,” saying that he chose the name when he picked her up and the first words out of his mouth were, “Hey Bub!” as The Daily Beast reported in 2013.

However, Bub required a tremendous amount of TLC. She lacked teeth, which meant that the helpless kitten had to be bottle-fed. She had an extreme form of feline dwarfism, making her limbs small in comparison to the rest of her body and making it difficult for her to walk as well. Her lower jaw was short, causing her tongue to constantly hang out. She also had osteoporosis.

Additionally, though it didn’t affect her life, she also had extra digits on her paws, an uncommon, though not particularly rare, genetic trait among some cats.

View this post on Instagram

This is my first photo with BUB next our last photo together. On the morning of Sunday, December 1st 2019 we lost the purest, kindest and most magical living force on our planet. BUB was cheerful and full of love laying in our bed with us Saturday night, but unexpectedly passed away peacefully in her sleep.. I have always been fully transparent about BUB's health, and it was no secret that she was battling a persistent and aggressive bone infection. Even knowing this, we weren't expecting her to pass so soon or so abruptly without warning. 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. 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 8 years. To say that our family is devastated would be an understatement. But most importantly, BUB has made a huge difference in the world of animal welfare, and in the lives of millions of people worldwide. She has literally saved thousands of lives (both pets and humans), she started the first national fund for special needs pets, she was the subject of groundbreaking genetic and biological research, she's helped raise over $700,000 for animals in need, and has spread a message of determination, positivity, and perseverance to people all over the world. And even though my heart is absolutely crushed by her graceful departure from planet Earth, I know that her sprit, magic, and overwhelming energy are still with us, reminding us every day to be better. Dearest BUB, I will never forget your generosity, your limitless supply of love, or your uncanny ability to bring so much magic and joy to the world. I am forever honored and humbled that you chose me as your caretaker. Please visit all of us in our dreams o

A post shared by Lil BUB (@iamlilbub) on

Viral Fame

In 2011, Bridavsky posted a picture of Lil Bub on Tumblr before the photo eventually caught the attention of Reddit. From there, she became a viral star, as internet users the world over couldn’t get enough of the cute cat whose can-do attitude and perpetually-extended tongue warmed hearts everywhere.

Soon there were innumerable memes of Lil Bub all over the ‘net. That led to a book deal, a movie deal, merchandising deals, and an Instagram page with over 2 million followers.

A Serious Side

Loading...

It wasn’t all just fun and laughs when it came to Bub’s fame, however. She was also the subject of a scientific inquiry. Researchers wanted to map Lil Bub’s genome to get to the bottom of what caused her physical deformities. Ultimately, the cause was identified as a mutation in gene RANK/TNFRSF11A. You can read about the scientific side of Lil Bub’s fame via this 2019 Washington Post report.

A Sad End

Unfortunately, Lil Bub’s multitude of physical problems eventually caught up to her. Specifically, it was an aggressive bone infection that claimed her life, at the relatively early age of 8-years-old.

The first two years of a domestic cat’s life are roughly equivalent to 25 human years, and each year after that is roughly equivalent to four years. In other words, in “human years,” Lil Bub died at the equivalent age of about 49, or that of a middle-aged human woman.