“She’s only ever done that once before,” Mike Bridavsky said upon seeing her propel her long body from the edge of the cushion and waddle toward the glass doors of a lounge room in his local recording studio, Russian Recording.
After a quick, assisted trip to the litter box, she did it again.
“She’s on fire,” Stacy Bridavsky said as Mike rushed to crouch before BUB, phone in hand and waiting for another jump.
BUB, Bloomington’s most famous feline, has a rare bone condition, osteopetrosis, that left her almost immobile a couple years ago. Doctors said she might never move again.
Mike caught her third jump on camera and smiled, his eyes trained on the screen in front of him.
“Wow,” he said. “Off into the sunset.”
From the beginning of their relationship, Mike said he knew BUB was a special cat. A friend’s mother found her in a tool shed in her backyard.
Although Mike had already rescued four cats, he said he could tell BUB was different.
“When I met her, we hit it off really well,” he said.
Along with her bone condition, BUB is a perma-kitten with an extreme case of dwarfism and a lower jaw shorter than the top one.
“There’s no instruction manual for a BUB,” Mike said. “The hard part is discovering that something’s wrong, figuring out what it is that’s wrong and then figuring out how to make that better.”
BUB is now a little more than four years old. Mike said she cannot go to the bathroom by herself, she needs water added to her food for hydration, she takes supplements and has treatment two times a day for her bones. She requires regular nail trimmings and baths.
“She’s a little more work than a typical cat,” Mike said. “But, you know, it’s worth it.”
Mike said he takes on the role of BUB’s mother. A lot of cats are very independent, but BUB is dependent on him and Stacy for survival, he said.
BUB’s voice, however, is all her own. It is the voice of a superhero, only slightly condescending because she is from a higher intelligence somewhere in space, Mike said.
She is inspirational, he said, like the Martin Luther King Jr. of cats.
“Her voice, like, in real life, is not dependent — she’s very independent,” he said. “The voice that most people, you know, normal sane people, would say I created for BUB — it didn’t exist before BUB. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s all her.”
That voice carries unflinching positivity to her fans, Mike said. He said he never meant for his cat to be famous, but he found her fans admired her determination and ability to overcome the obstacles of being a special-needs cat.
“Her message is one of, I think, just a lot of positivity,” Stacy said. “She really shows people that being different is okay, and, more than being okay, it’s great to be different.”
Although BUB is dependent upon her owners’ care, Mike said theirs is a symbiotic relationship.
He said BUB has taught him to be more patient and charitable in his work — she has already raised more than $300,000 for animals in need. She pulled him through major slumps in his life, he said, and eventually prepared him for life with his and Stacy’s baby, Rosco.
“She provides me with a lot of, um ... we call it magic,” Mike said. “She definitely has something about her that’s an energy that you can’t really explain.”
BUB’s magic continues to spread. Currently, she and Mike are creating a concept album detailing her crash-landing from space, and a possible record signing in Bloomington is in the works.
She will play a minor role in a feature film starring Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken.
She is working on a book with Norbert the Dog, which will be sold in her very own store this holiday season.
Lil BUB’s Lil Store is set to open in Bloomington on Nov. 1 with a possible soft opening in the middle of October, Stacy said. The store will carry Lil BUB products, as well as clothes and items made in the style of BUB.
In all of her projects, BUB remains the driving force.
“It is completely her voice,” Mike said. “She can’t do it herself — she’s a cat — but the creative force is hers.”
As BUB strutted on her extra-toed paws toward the glass door for the final time, Stacy smiled.
“She always goes straight towards the kibble, wherever there’s cat food, or towards the sunlight,” she said. “That’s her thing.”