Adopt and Shop's Lil Bub Event Was the Cat's Meow
October 2, 2014
For those unfamiliar with the slang of the 1920s, "the cat's meow" refers to someone or something highly admired, and on Saturday, September 20 that cat-egorically described the featured visitor at Culver City's Adopt & Shop, 4235 Sepulveda Blvd.
Fans of the celebrity cat sensation, Lil Bub, converged for a charity "meet and greet' with a puss that had everyone purring, and little wonder – this breakout star of the Internet with over one million social media fans is an attention magnet and, given her charisma and ability to fascinate her followers, the Kardashian of kittydom.
The fee to meet, pet and be photographed with Lil Bub was $50, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to charity, half going to NKLA (www.nkla.org), a coalition of animal welfare organizations, city shelters and dedicated individuals committed to making Los Angeles a no-kill city.
The other half is for Lil BUB's Big FUND at the ASPCA, to help special needs cats by distributing grants to animal welfare organizations to support cats that need special care or extra help getting adopted because of conditions such as physical deformity, birth defects, developmental disability, mobility impairment, blindness, deafness, permanent diseases, chronic illnesses, old age, or wounds suffered from a disaster, accident or abuse.
Lil Bub, born June 21, 2011, has amassed some startling accomplishments, not the least of which was surviving despite difficult odds. She is flourishing under the care of "her dude," Mike Bridavsky, who has other rescue cats and a dog as well.
"She was found in a tool shed in 2011 when she was two weeks old by my friend's mother," he explained. He met the kitten when she was eight weeks old and they bonded instantly. At that time, thinking she wouldn't live very long, he wanted to care for her and give her a home for whatever time she might have.
For such a tiny creature, Lil Bub exhibited a daunting display of differences.
The runt of a healthy feral litter, this tabby is a "perma-kitten," which means she will remain diminutive and her features will always be kitten-like. A dwarf with limbs that are disproportionately small for her serpentine body, she was born with a rare bone disorder called osteopetrosis. (There are a handful of recorded cases where cats have gotten osteopetrosis in old age, but she is the only one to have been born with it.) She has a very short, malformed lower jaw, causing her tongue to hang out and the varied sounds she emits to be strange. Although toothless because her teeth never grew in, she has a good appetite and enjoys dry and wet food. Being polydactyl with extra toes, she sports 22 claws. Her large, round, protuberant green eyes draw you in. She is a captivating and very definitely one-of-a-kind cat.
Mother Nature may have been a bit distracted when dealing the cards that determined Lil Bub's genetic fate but, despite a hand that could have caused many to fold, the end result was clearly a royal flush.
"She has generated over $100,000 for charities so far this year through meet and greets and sales of merchandise, and close to $200,000 total since we started two and a half years ago," said Bridavsky. The merchandise is available online at http://www.lilbub.com, and a portion of each sale goes to Lil BUB's Big FUND for the ASPCA.
This feline inspiration's resume includes published author, talk show host, movie star, Internet superstar and extraordinary fundraiser for animals in need.
"I never set out to do this, it all evolved organically," Bridavsky added, speaking of her fame. "I never approached anyone. People came to me." He has declined offers from certain corporate interests as he didn't want her associated with products he didn't care for or felt were inappropriate.
When asked what his most memorable Lil Bub moment was, his answer wasn't the exhilarating experience of having her 2013 documentary, "Lil Bub & Friendz," win the Tribeca Online Festival Best Feature Film, her media appearances, the celebrities she met and charmed, etc. "It was when I realized she was going to get better," he reflected. "She had become almost completely immobile, in great pain, and I was afraid she'd have to be put down."
A friend suggested Reiki Energy Healing. Another friend recommended an energy healer who was in town. Lil Bub started to perk up. Although she continued to have great difficulty walking and could only crawl, the pain left.
Then Bridavsky received an email from one of Lil Bub's fans, recommending a device called the Assisi Loop. The Loop, which had to be prescribed by his vet, is based on pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) technology, stimulating the blood flow and acting as an anti-inflammatory.
Within days he noticed a change. Now, around one and one-half years later, Lil Bub is walking, running, playing, and can even jump on the couch, something her dude considers nothing short of a miracle for this amazing cat that he believes "represents accepting differences. She shows being different is not only good but can be better than good."
Jane Solomon, a volunteer at Harbor Animal Care Center, a shelter in San Pedro, would certainly agree that Lil Bub is very special. An animal advocate with three cats and two dogs, all rescues, she found out about this event on Facebook and attended, proudly wearing her Lil Bub T-shirt.
"I'm a big Lil Bub fan," she said. "I really like what her owner does, raising awareness about special needs animals and creating a general persona of optimism and good-heartedness. And she's such an interesting cat – really, really cute, so soft – a sweet little cat."
Petfinder (www.petfinder.com), a database of animals needing homes and a directory of nearly 14,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, designated September 21 - 27, 2014 as Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week. During the weekend of September 19 - 21, both Adopt & Shop locations (Culver City and Lakewood) showed their support by waiving $50 of the adoption fee on any cat or dog falling within certain specified categories.
And to help kick off that special week, Lil Bub not only appeared at the Culver City event on September 20, her activities continued the next day. Sunday found this peripatetic puss cat-apulted into a starring role at the first ever LA Feline Film Festival, the principal sponsor of which was Adopt & Shop. It was held at Exposition Park and presented by planet-friendly pet products maker, Organikat, and the Walker Art Center. Featured were cat videos, vendors, rescue groups and celebrity cats. A portion of festival proceeds will be given to local cat sanctuaries and rescue organizations.
Lil Bub's unforgettable presence gives new meaning to purr-fection. She clearly evokes wonder and inspiration during her memorable appearances, proving that being different doesn't defeat one's ability to make a valuable contribution, we each have our own "normal," and individuality is to be celebrated – powerful messages that transcend species.