Lil Bub died in her sleep on December 1, 2019 after suffering from an aggressive bone infection according to her owner Mike Bridavsky, a writer and producer. Bone infections are most often bacterial and not viral. In the unlikely event that you have not heard of Lil Bub she was the cute, little tabby cat with a tongue that flopped out. Her cute appearance was due to undesirable inherited, defective genes causing dwarfism, a misaligned jaw and osteopetrosis. A range of dwarf cat breeds were created from the dwarfism gene but they are generally frowned on because of potential associated health issues and the ethics of the project.
Osteopetrosis is a bone disease causing abnormally dense bone which is prone to break. The disease is believed to be inherited via a recessive or dominant gene depending on the type of osteopetrosis.
Osteopetrosis affects ‘normal bone modelling and remodeling’ which can lead to skeletal deformities. The disease causes bone to fill the marrow cavities and ‘cranial nerve foramina’. This can lead to ‘frequent infections’ among other conditions such as anaemia, bleeding and blindness via haematopoiesis (source: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism).
It seems that I am able to quickly get to the point of the article: what did Lil Bub die of? It seems clear to me, in the absence of any statement from Mike Bridavsky filling in some details, that she ultimately died of her inherited defective genes causing osteopetrosis which caused a chronic and incurable infection which killed her.
With such an aggressive infection she must have felt very ill during its unknown duration leading up to her death.
Without harping on about it, her worldwide celebrity and earning power came directly from the inherited deformities of her skeleton and the bone disease called osteopetrosis. It is considered unethical to celebrate acute dwarfism and skeletal deformities in humans. Why do we put deformed cats on a pedestal? Because they are different and cute. But behind that cuteness was illness and a shortened lifespan of 8 years. Grumpy Cat lived to 7 and she was a dwarf cat too with similar health issues.
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