Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat and the Death of the 2010s Famous Internet Pets

We should have been prepared for this. But we weren't.

lil bub
Lil Bub, one of the internet's most famous pets, passed away Monday.
Instagram/@iamlilbub
By Kayla Kibbe / December 4, 2019 6:00 am

The 2010s are coming to an end, and with it, so are the lives of many of the famous pets this decade’s unique capacity for internet virality jumped to fame. Lil Bub, a cat who first rose to internet fame via Reddit and Tumblr back in 2011, passed on Monday.

“We lost the purest, kindest and most magical living force on our planet,” the cat’s owner, Mike Bridavsky, wrote in an Instagram post announcing Lil Bub’s death. The cat had struggled with various health conditions since her youth and had been battling “a persistent and aggressive bone infection” before her death. “Even knowing this, we weren’t expecting her to pass so soon or so abruptly without warning,” Bridavsky wrote.

View this post on Instagram

This is my first photo with BUB next our last photo together. On the morning of Sunday, December 1st 2019 we lost the purest, kindest and most magical living force on our planet. BUB was cheerful and full of love laying in our bed with us Saturday night, but unexpectedly passed away peacefully in her sleep.. I have always been fully transparent about BUB's health, and it was no secret that she was battling a persistent and aggressive bone infection. Even knowing this, we weren't expecting her to pass so soon or so abruptly without warning. I truly believe that she willingly made the decision to leave her failing body so that our family would not have to make that difficult decision ourselves. It is impossible to put into words the profound effect that BUB has had on my life, on the lives of thousands of homeless pets, and on the lives of those of you that have cared for her as if she were your own family. She taught me everything that I know about unconditional love, she brought my wife Stacy and I together, she's the reason we have our beautiful children Rosco and Lula, and she has been a constant source of warmth and love in our lives for the past 8 years. To say that our family is devastated would be an understatement. But most importantly, BUB has made a huge difference in the world of animal welfare, and in the lives of millions of people worldwide. She has literally saved thousands of lives (both pets and humans), she started the first national fund for special needs pets, she was the subject of groundbreaking genetic and biological research, she's helped raise over $700,000 for animals in need, and has spread a message of determination, positivity, and perseverance to people all over the world. And even though my heart is absolutely crushed by her graceful departure from planet Earth, I know that her sprit, magic, and overwhelming energy are still with us, reminding us every day to be better. Dearest BUB, I will never forget your generosity, your limitless supply of love, or your uncanny ability to bring so much magic and joy to the world. I am forever honored and humbled that you chose me as your caretaker. Please visit all of us in our dreams o

A post shared by Lil BUB (@iamlilbub) on

As the Washington Post noted, Lil Bub isn’t the first internet-famous pet to pass away recently. The famous feline of the Grumpy Cat memes that were nearly inescapable throughout much of the early part of the decade also passed earlier this year, while an orange tabby known as Keyboard Cat died last year of liver cancer.

These internet celebrity pet deaths never fail to attract an outpouring of online grief from fans, not unlike the mass mourning that tends to accompany the death of any other celebrity. Lil Bub’s death was trending on Twitter within minutes of Bridavsky’s announcement, with mourning fans taking to the platform to type out their respects.

In the past, many of the most famous pets in our lives were fictional and, therefore, immortal. We lost Charles Schulz, but we’ll never lose Snoopy; there will always be Lassie reruns and we’re living in the time of a Lady and the Tramp live-action remake. At the end of the first decade in which could love and follow the lives of other people’s pets as our own, however, we’ve found ourselves unprepared to face the reality of their mortality.

As the Post‘s Abby Ohlheiser put it, “Watching the lives of other people’s pets has become a part of the Internet experience, and now so has mourning their deaths.”

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