While on the West Coast last week to attend the “LA Feline Film Festival,” I had the good fortune of sitting down with Mike Bridavsky (aka. Lil BUB’s “Dude”) at “Adopt and Shop” in Culver City (a nonprofit pet retailer).
Mike has seen me at so many cat-related events I can only hope the sight of me didn’t make him nervous, and that speaking with me helped dispel any notions of my craziness – well, of my complete craziness at the very least!
He looked a tad weary after hours of a “meet-and-greet” with Lil BUB fans (BUB has the easy end of that gig!). None-the-less, he was more than polite and willing to answer all my questions, even playing with BUB during our interview (video included!).
As a bit of background for those of you not as familiar with Mike or Lil BUB – I gasp at the sheer thought! Mike has attracted and been attracted to cats much of his adult life. In college a cat adopt him, ignoring his college mates, and the first recording studio he worked in had a collection of felines. Mike rather liked the vibe, replicating it in his own Indiana studio.
“Dude” was Mike’s moniker for some time as a way to refer to his existence while keeping all the focus on BUB. He’s quite particular about the way he and BUB are portrayed, which I fully appreciated and hope I’ve done them both justice in this interview.
I should also mention I was fortunate enough to share a few moments with Mike’s lovely lady companion whose anonymity I shall respect – sorry single ladies, and mothers’ of those ladies who were hoping to set them up on dates! She’s a super cute, pretty, friendly hipster who was sitting patiently while focused intensely on her smart phone. She was kind enough, however, to respond (tolerate?) my intrusive small talk in a sincere, down-to-earth and polite manner.
So here’s it is, my interview with one of the most, if notTHE most famous CAT MEN of our time, Mike Bridavsky. I hope you enjoy it along with the photos and videos.
=^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^=
IHC: Do you feel like a celebrity? What would you say has changed the most in your life since Lil BUB’s fame took-off.
MB: No, (I don’t feel like a celebrity) some people consider me to be one, but it’s always been about BUB, and I’m just her sidekick. She doesn’t speak English so I have to be there to help out. I actually decline to take a photo if people recognize me and I’m not with Bub.
It’s hard to describe what’s different. I’ve never worked a 9-5 job, and running a recording studio has crazy hours. It’s the same – just busier. Getting used to talking in front of large groups of people was the biggest challenge for me but it was good for me. I used to mumble but I’ve gotten used to it.
IHC: How did you come to get Bub? I’ve heard two very different stories. One, that She was found in a barn and secondly that multiple people had her and passed her along until she finally somehow ended up with you. Which is the accurate version?
MB: Both are true. She was found in a shed, just not by me, but by my friend’s sister’s roommate’s boyfriend’s mom who bottle-fed her. After that, a friend, Corey had her but decided he wasn’t up for it, it just wasn’t for him so, another friend took her. That friend’s sister called and said: whose sister called and told me: “I have a cat that’s perfect for you.”
[Tamar here: I guess Mike has taken in other cats with special needs or who are less than “perfect” so his friend thought he’d be open to this particular kitty – seems like she had a 6th sense for sure!]
IHC: Do you stay in touch with any of the people who came into BUB’s life before you? If so, do any of them now regret their decision to give her up given her current fame?
MB: Yes, the two people who had her before me were and still are friends. I’m actually going to one of the guy’s weddings in a few weeks. And the lady that had her right before me is the sister of one of my closest friends. I don’t think either of them regret giving her up. They made the decision not to keep her, and felt it was the responsible choice. I think they’re both just happy that she found a good home.
IHC: How many cats do you have in addition to BUB? Who is she closest to?
MB: BUB doesn’t like other cats but she does live with Spooky* and four cats that live in the recording studio.
*[Tamar here: I’m deducing Spooky is his girlfriend’s cat. If you haven’t seen the video of the two of them meeting it’s a must!]
NOTE: His girlfriend did divulge as I was waiting that she recently caught Bub and Spooky cuddled up together taking a nap…perhaps Miss BUB is slowly changing her ways but doesn’t want Mike to know!
IHC: With her osteopetrosis (a rare bone disease) and Dwarfism, is Lil BUB expected to live a normal lifespan?
MB: At first we didn’t think she’d live more than a few months given all the strange stuff that was wrong with her. We didn’t really know what was going on inside of her. She’s the ONLY cat born with this rare condition. We thought that time had come before using the Assisi Loop.
Why did you take her in even if you thought at the time she may only live a few months?
MB: Well honestly I was in love with her, and it broke my heart to think that she didn’t have anyone to take care of her. She very obviously needed taking care of, and I was thrilled to do it, even if only for a few months. I had just moved into a new apartment, with no other cats in it (my cats live at the recording studio), so it was an ideal environment for a helpless half-pound kitten with no teeth.
IHC: Has the Assisi Loop (a pulsed electromagnetic field device) or Spooky done more to contribute to BUB’s improved mobility?
MB: The Assisi Loop has saved her life. There’s a video I haven’t posted yet (now posted and can be viewed below!) of her flying up a flight of stairs and coming down slowly – that’s harder for her.
NOTE: I told him his girlfriend suspected Spooky had something to do with her improved and mobility and Mike didn’t disagree. According to her, Spooky is teaching BUB how to be a cat – which totally makes sense, given she hasn’t been around cats (given she doesn’t like them it doesn’t exactly help I suspect!). I’m guessing from the latest video posted of them together, she gets a lot of practice running away from him!
IHC: Does BUB ever get annoyed, upset?
*[Tamar here: we actually saw it in action when Mike was trying to get something that was matted in BUB’s paw fur. Of course even BUB’s expressions of annoyance or anger are adorable beyond words.She licked him non-stop making cute grunting throughout.]
IHC: Does BUB have cat friends or ferneries? I’ve heard about a potential rivalry between Grumpy and BUB, can you expand on that?
MB: As mentioned, in general, she doesn’t like cats. We do know Princess Monster Truck, Pudge, Grumpy Cat, and Colonel Meow and BUB met several times.
We bring attention and awareness to Lil BUB’s challenges. Grumpy Cat is more about the Meme, the joke, but as long as the cat is taken care of, that’s what matters. It’s just not what I have chosen to do.
Grumpy Cat is about “No” and BUB is “Yes.” Our message is about adopting, spaying and overcoming obstacles. BUB is not an “internet cat,” I don’t even know what that means.
IHC: Is BUB more Pantera or Pussycat Dolls? (For the record this was a friend-requested question!)
MB: After a short chuckle, Mike responds without thinking twice. “Pantera.”
IHC: What is it that attracts you to felines? What is it that you like and appreciate most about them?
MB: I love all animals, and I have always felt a connection with various critters. But cats are very special animals. They are intelligent, independent animals, and truly appreciate and reward you for understanding them, being good to them, and loving them.
I feel a deep spiritual connection can be made between a human and a cat, one that cannot be made with any other animal. I truly believe cats are finely in-tune with greater energy and forces, and that we can learn a lot from them for that reason.
IHC: Am I allowed to ask how you and the lady in your life met?
MB: We met the same day that BUB met Grumpy Cat at the Walker Arts Center for the 2nd Cat Video Festival. It was her second day working there and she came down to meet the “famous cats” simply because her co-workers were doing it.
She didn’t know who Lil BUB or Grumpy Cat was beforehand, but thought BUB was very sweet and soft. I thought she was stunning, and luckily she thought I was a nice fella.
[Tamar here: swooooon!]
A few IHC reader questions:
IHC reader: Where does BUB sleep?
MB: When she sleeps she snores, licks and cleans. When it was just me she slept in my bed. But now it’s different. She stays on the couch, which she can jump on and of off, and seems quite happy there.
IHC reader: What is her favorite thing to place with or do when she’s not on the road?
MB: BUB likes to do a very few select things. Eat, jump on and off if the couch, and nap. Occasionally she likes to play but she’s actually most active on the road.
I ask Mike if he is familiar with “Kitty Huffing” in order to set-up the next question. He is not familiar with the term and does not seem impressed with it. Perhaps because of other more common connotations?
IHC Reader: What does Lil BUB smell like?
MB: BUB isn’t the greatest smelling cat….not the most pleasant, but I find her smell calming. It’s yeasty, savory.
NOTE: At this point his girlfriend who was seemingly on her smart phone but apparently tracking the conversation chimes in saying she can also smell like ripe pineapple.
=^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^= =^^=
By now I had overstayed my welcome. The interview was over. The Cat Fancy folks with their fancy video equipment were up next. I tried giving them the evil eye but it didn’t work (just kidding, I love you Anastasia!).
Hope you enjoyed the interview. Did you learn anything new about either Mike or BUB? If so, I’m curios, do tell!