Photos: Lil Bub, cat costumes and more at the Internet Cat Video Film Festival

Internet cats went offline for this feline film fest, an import from Minnesota's Walker Art Center; plus, an interview with Lil Bub's human!

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  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

    The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn

Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

The 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Brooklyn


After two successful runs at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, as well as a multi-city tour, The Internet Cat Video Film Festival landed in Brooklyn on Friday night for its inaugural NYC event. Cat ladies and gents from all over came to Warsaw—many of them either dressed as cats, or in feline-themed clothing and accessories—to watch some of the Internet's funniest cat videos. It was, in a word, awesome.

(Full disclosure: I am a cat person. I have a cat; I have written about cats for this very publication on multiple occasions; I wore some of my own cat accessories to this event, and I may have purchased a T-shirt there. I'm not an objective source when it comes to kitties, is what I'm saying.)

The crowd also got the chance to gawk at Lil Bub, who made an in-person appearance to show off an episode of her talk show, Lil Bub's Big Show. (The special guest: Steve Albini.) For the uninitiated, Bub is a one-of-a-kind kitty: She was born with several genetic conditions (including dwarfism, polydactyl paws and a rare bone condition called osteopetrosis), but with the help of her dude, Mike Bridavsky—as well as her fans—she's been able to overcome many challenges and help other cats. Vice chronicled her story in the documentary Lil Bub & Friendz, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.

I chatted with the affable Bridavsky, who's had Bub since she was a kitten, about her journey. (Bub, meanwhile, snoozed on a crochet blanket the entire time.) Here's what he had to say.

Time Out New York: What's it like for you now that Bub has become so popular, and almost meme-like?
Mike Bridavsky:
I don't like Bub being referred to as a meme or an Internet sensation. The whole thing with Bub is that she's a real cat, who does real things, and raises real money and real awareness, and real people can meet her. Sure, the Internet's where it happened by accident, and then my friends and I went with it and turned it into this thing, but it's about her. There are other cats who have memes, but it's about the meme or the joke. Or the perceived image that the Internet puts on the animal as opposed to being about the animal itself. I didn't expect for her to get famous, so I'm going to do whatever I want, and if she keeps staying famous and people still like her or are involved, then I'm all about it. But otherwise, I have the coolest cat in the world. If she stops being famous, I can just stay at home with her.

Time Out New York: You worked with Vice on a documentary about Bub—how did that project come about?
Mike Bridavsky:
That was shortly after Bub became famous. A lot of cool places liked Bub and found out about her when she was an underground-famous cat, and Vice bought some merchandise really early on. They asked us to do a video for us, and we did that. And then they reached out and were like, "Hey, we're doing a story on [the first] Internet Cat Video Film Festival, do you want to go?" and the way we do things is, if you can make it happen, we'll do it. So we went and met the Vice crew, and we all got along really well and they all fell in love with Bub. And then they were like, "We decided we want to do a documentary on Bub." I think they did it sort of without the uppers approving it; they were kinda like, we want to do this. And that's what I like—they want to do it about Bub, they love Bub and it's about her.

I think it's the only content out there that I haven't had complete control over. [Laughs] And it was hard. It's Vice, and they're making a documentary about me and my cat, and they can make things seem risqué when they actually aren't. But they really love Bub, and we became friends.

Time Out New York: Were you always a cat person or did that happen because of Bub?
Mike Bridavsky: I was a cat person before Bub, but not always. I love all animals, but we had a cat growing up who was a real bitch. No one's ever petted her, even. It's like a raccoon living in your house except it's a cat…named Tiffany. [Laughs] It's not that I didn't like cats, I didn't like a few of the cats I'd met. I've collected four other rescue cats that I've had, so it's been ten years since I've been a cat guy. And since I had all those cats, that's why my friends ended up telling me about Bub. And then I got a sixth cat, Nub, who had a nub for an arm, to be Bub's buddy. So it was Lil Bub and Lil Nub. But Nub was a dick and was not nice to Bub, so Nub went to my friend Will.

Time Out New York: Aside from the fame, how has having Bub changed your life?
Mike Bridavsky: I'm much better at talking to people and not being nervous about talking in front of groups of people. At the Tribeca Film Festival, I had to do red carpets and do a Q&A in front of like, 1,000 people, and eventually you get so tired and exhausted that you lose it. Another thing is, I've always wanted to care about something more than myself. I knew Bub was going to be a lot of work when I got her, and it used to stress me out until I realized that I don't need to be stressed out; my job is taking care of her. So whatever she needs, I'm going to do it. And that was a turning point.

And the fact that I get to do a lot of creative stuff—I got into photography and writing, which has been a hobby. I've recorded bands, and put all my time into that, and honestly I was getting a little jaded and tired. So this came at a really good time, when I was kind of like, I don't know what I'm doing with myself.

Time Out New York: When you guys aren't out at events or whatever, what are some of Bub's favorite things to do?
Mike Bridavsky: She meditates. I really think she does. I used to worry because Bub doesn't move around that much, and our perception of what you're supposed to do in life is, you're supposed to do stuff all the time. But Bub is like, she sits in one place, and she's definitely doing stuff. That's where the idea that she's saving the planet all day [comes from]. She's putting out energy, hundreds of thousands of people are moved by her every day. That's why I decided to keep doing this. There was a point where I was like, I have to stop, I'm going to become this cat guy, and I don't wanna do that. But it's like, why would I stop when all this amazing stuff is happening for other people and my cat?

Her fame is the reason she's doing better now and able to walk. She's the only cat with this bone condition, and there are so few other living things that have it. But because she got famous, we got in touch with these specialists that know about her condition. That's how we found out about this Assisi Loop that treats her with electromagnetic field therapy. It's quite literally taken her from being barely able to move at all to running and jumping. Even when she was mildly famous, I was doing anything I could—we went to specialists, I spent crazy amounts of money. But out of nowhere, this expert is like, "I saw you guys on this, and I heard you talk about osteopetrosis, and I'm a Ph.D. whose focus is in osteopetrosis," and she listed all this work and came to a meet and greet, and saw that Loop we're using.

The change in her is astounding, and it's her own way of, like…this is how I'm going to make it through all this and continue my work. I know it sounds crazy, but there's no other explanation for it. When your cat gets insanely famous for no reason and then does all this stuff—we've raised like, $100,000 for charities. I think she's got lots of magic in her.

Time Out New York: So what's next for you guys?
Mike Bridavsky:
So we have Lil Bub's Big Show, which we'll keep doing. Andrew W.K. said yes, and Martha Plimpton. So that's cool. The coolest thing is Lil Bub's fund for the ASPCA, we're getting very close to getting it all finalized, but Bub's going to be an official partnership with them. I worked it out so that it'll be the first national fund for special-needs pets. So all the merchandise we do now will be funneled into that fund, and people can donate to it. We already had one of Bub's superfans rewrite her will to give everything. Anytime people want to partner with us, my rule is that we don't do anything unless everyone at every stage contributes. Our licensing agent contributes a percentage; we do, obviously; and then at the very least the licenser who uses her image, and if we can, the retailer, too. Even if it's a few percent from everyone it adds up to a whole bunch of money and then it all gets funneled to one place. And it builds on itself—just the press that's going to get, and people are like, "Oh, I'm gonna donate to this," and it'll be great.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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