Mike Bridavsky interview

Mike Bridavsky, internet cat sensation Lil Bub’s ‘dude’, talks lap cats and crazy cat guys

Mike Bridavsky & Lil BUB
Photo: Timothy S. Griffin
By Syarifah Syazana

'I kept it completely organic. I posted a photo, people shared it, and it just kept going from there,’ is Mike Bridavsky’s default line when asked how his cat Lil Bub became an internet sensation. Since then, Lil Bub has made numerous TV appearances, starred in 2013 documentary ‘Lil Bub & Friendz’, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, raised money for various US charities and even has her own 12-part web series, ‘Lil Bub’s Big Show’. Watching Bub through every step of the way is Bridavsky, who prefers to keep things ‘organic’ by handling every aspect of the Lil Bub brand, from shooting and writing the web series right down to managing social media and fan merchandise.

How’s Lil Bub doing?
She’s great. She’s sitting right next to me. She was just playing but now she’s just sitting here looking at me.

So she’s a lap cat.
She is very much a lap cat. She’s just recently been able to jump for the first time in her life. And so, whenever she learns something new, she just uses it like crazy, you know? Anytime I sit on the couch, she jumps onto the couch and right into my lap.

Would you call yourself a crazy cat guy?
No. I’m just a cat guy. Or if I am crazy, it has nothing to do with my cats.

What do you think borders on crazy?
I really don’t particularly like that sort of stigma attached to cat owners. I think it’s a negative sort of trait that discourages people from wanting to get cats. I think there are crazy people that happen to own cats but I don’t know if there is any connection between a cat and the craziness. There is a stereotype and I’ve seen people that just have too many cats, but I think that’s not a problem with the cats – it’s just they would have a lot of everything.

It has become a more acceptable term now though.
Yeah. I’m sort of a reclusive cat lover, so when Bub became famous, I suddenly found out about this huge community of cat people online. I think maybe within that circle some people go, ‘Yeah, I am a crazy cat lady.’ Still, I feel like there are stupid people who still joke about it. I don’t care if you call me a crazy cat lady. I love my cats, you know?

Who are your other cats?
In my house there’s Bub, and then my fiancée’s cat – his name is Spooky. I also have three other cats that live at my recording studio, which is right around the corner [from his house].
It seems like you and Bub are together all the time.
Yeah, I spend a lot of time with her but it depends. This is the longest we’ve been home – the longest period of time without travelling. When we’re home, I still spend a lot of time with her but not as much because I’m at the studio working or doing other things. When we’re travelling, I’m with her 24/7. I would say I’ve spent more time with Bub than maybe any other person in my life.

Bub seems to be handling this whole celebrity thing quite well.

She’s a very unusual cat in how she deals with all this. She deals with it [being a celebrity] better than I do. We go on these trips and I get way more tired. She’s usually down for anything but I’m extremely sensitive to her needs and I know her moods. Sure, she gets tired just like anyone else. It’s written in our contracts; if I ever feel that she’s not feeling it or she doesn’t want to be here, then I can get out of it.

Does that happen often?
Rarely. I’ve been in every imaginable sort of scenario with her and she’s completely fine. She’s most stressed out if there’s another cat around [The most stressed she’s ever been, like in downtown Manhattan or on a subway... meeting a cat is a hundred times more stressful to Bub]. Just seeing a cat, she’ll completely lose her mind and get really upset. But she can be in Times Square with 300 kids trying to pet her at once and she doesn’t care, not one bit.

That’s interesting because Bub’s met other celebrity cats like Grumpy Cat.
Yeah and it doesn’t go very well, ever. I mean it’s not like the end of the world; she doesn’t run, but she hisses, her ears fold back and she starts shedding more fur because she’s stressed out. But that’s how cats are. So Bub’s not friends with Grumpy Cat?
Well, I like to think that in the public eye – sure, we can say they’re friends. But they’ve only met once. Grumpy isn’t a very responsive animal. She just sort of sniffs around and stares, you know? I don’t think she even noticed that Bub was there. [Pauses] Oh, you know, they did actually become friends. I forgot about this. I actually have video footage of the two of them playing the second day that they were hanging out and they seemed to have a really good time together. So, we can officially say that they’re friends, yes.

Do you think Bub will ever get tired of the spotlight?
I don’t know. I never planned for any of this; I just take things as they come and they don’t stop coming so I keep doing it. So, if it [being famous] all ended tomorrow, I wouldn’t care and neither would Bub. I just go with it day by day. I don’t think she’s tired of it – I don’t think she has any idea. I think she loves her life. If it weren’t for her getting famous, she wouldn’t be with us. I mean, that’s how we found her treatment and certainly found out more about her disease [Bub was diagnosed with osteopetrosis in 2012] through this and that’s why she’s doing so well. So, I’m grateful for it. It’s been fun. It might go on for years or it might go on for a few months. Who knows?

How does someone make their cat famous?
Oh, well the answer for that is they don’t. You’re not supposed to make your cat famous. The ideal famous cat is not created by the owner of the cat. I’ve never met another cat that could, would, or should be famous and be able to deal with it like the way Bub does. I never tried, so I don’t recommend anyone try to make their cat famous. And I’ve said that all along. I mean, if it happens and it works out, that’s what happens, but I think pets are for loving and companionship and that’s [the only reason] why you should get a pet.

Catch Lil Bub and her furry friends together with actress Amy Sedaris in ‘Lil Bub Special Special’, Wed Jun 25, 9pm on Animal Planet. Repeats Jun 26, 5.30pm; Jun 28, 8.30pm; Jun 29, 8.30am.