Celebrity Feline’s memory lives on thanks to a special surgical kit donated to Purdue

Friday, June 17, 2022

Mike holds Lil BUB as Drs.  Rochat and Malek stand on opposite sides of the small animal hospital
Mike Bridavsky and Lil BUB with Purdue vets Mark Rochat (left) and Sarah Malek after Lil BUB was treated for a broken elbow in 2015.

This story begins in 2015 when a very small patient, who had a huge following of fans and supporters around the world, walked through the doors of Purdue University Veterinary Hospital to undergo surgery on her elbow. broken. The patient was none other than Little BUB, an adorable cat who had true celebrity status. The surgery required the use of very specialized small orthopedic surgical instruments and implants which were purchased temporarily to treat Lil BUB at the time. Subsequently, thanks to generous donations inspired by Lil BUB, the veterinary hospital was able to purchase this set of instruments. Seven years later, the Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery team has a growing list of other small animal patients who have been effectively treated for their injuries due to the availability of this implant system.

Lil BUB was adopted in 2011 by the Bridavsky family when it became apparent that she needed special care. She was born with a number of genetic conditions that helped endear her to millions of people who eventually followed her online. She retained kitten-like features throughout her life due to a condition called osteopetrosis which stunted her growth and made her bones prone to fracture even during simple daily activities.

Her visit to Purdue in 2015 happened because she jumped out of her chair and ended up with a broken bone in her elbow that could only be repaired with surgery. The surgical treatment of such a fracture is complex for any animal, but even more so in the case of an adult cat that weighed only four pounds. The surgical treatment involved joining the two broken pieces together and securing them with a metal bone plate and screws to allow the bone to heal. However, in Lil BUB’s case, the implants had to be small enough to fit in his bone, but also strong enough to hold his fragile bones together.

At the time, there was only one company that produced the necessary set of implants with such specifications. But, the instrument set and implants were expensive and not available at Purdue University. The orthopedic surgery team got the set of instruments on loan from the company and used the implants to repair Lil BUB’s fracture. The operation was successful and Lil BUB resumed his normal life soon after.

After Lil Bub’s broken bone was successfully healed, owner Mike Bridavsky helped organize a fundraising effort which, with the generous support of Lil BUB fans and animal lovers, enabled the hospital veterinarian to definitely acquire the set of instruments. Officially called “1.5mm Veterinary LCP® system, Depuy Synthes Vet”, the set is affectionately referred to as the “Lil BUB Surgery Kit” by staff in the orthopedic surgery department, and has been used to help more than a dozen little patients who needed a treatment for various fractures over the years.

Injuries involving broken bones like Lil BUB’s can be frightening for pet owners, but the prospects for treatment are better than ever with the benefit of such specialized equipment. Although Lil BUB passed away in 2019, his memory lives on thanks to the growing number of animals helped by the use of this implant system at Small Animal Hospital. To illustrate the impact this surgery kit has had, the Department of Orthopedic Surgery contacted the owners of four pets treated in this way, seeking permission to share their stories. Meet Scooter, Norman, Ruby and Anne:

Scooter is pictured wearing a black and white checkered bow tie as it is held by its owner
Scooter is a ferret who had to be operated on for a fractured femur.

On a beautiful day in early spring, Scooter, an adorable pet ferret, found his way out of his owners’ house and embarked on an unknown adventure. When he returned, his owners noticed that his back leg was broken. They brought Scooter to Purdue University Small Animal Hospital for treatment of a fractured right femur (thigh bone). The orthopedic surgery team successfully treated him with the small bone plate and the screws. After diligent care and follow-up, he made a full recovery and was able to resume a normal life.


Norman, an adorable two-month-old Border Collie, came to the emergency department at the veterinary hospital after suffering a broken jaw during an altercation with another dog. His fracture was similarly repaired with a small bone plate and screws, and he was able to return home within days. After two months of in-home care and meticulous follow-ups with his primary care vet and Purdue University, he was back to eating his favorite kibble and playing like a normal puppy again.


Ruby, an active Australian Shepherd, checked into the emergency room at the animal hospital shortly after Norman. Ruby had jumped from a high place and hurt one of her front feet. Her owners brought her in for an examination, during which x-rays of her foot were taken. Pictures showed she had broken four bones in her foot. Even though the bones were small, they caused him a lot of discomfort, especially for a dog that has always led an active life. Dr. Sarah Malek, assistant professor of small animal orthopedic surgery, says it’s always a good idea to have a suspected injury checked out. “It is best to know for sure if there is a fracture because, no matter how small, such a fracture can cause pain and impair the animal’s ability to perform a number of essential functions,” explained Dr. Malek.

To hasten Ruby’s return to activity and reduce the need to stay too long in a splint, all four broken bones were plated. Ruby rested her foot for about three months until the bones were all healed. Then, in no time, she was back to being a normal optimist herself, almost as if she didn’t have an injury in the first place.

Anne is pictured reclining in a comfortable chair
Anne, a Toy Poodle, had jumped out of her owners’ truck and was successfully treated for a broken forearm (radius and ulna).

Anne, a feisty Toy Poodle, was brought to Purdue’s emergency room after she jumped out of her owners’ truck and started limping and showing signs of pain in her front leg. X-rays revealed that she had a broken forearm (radius and ulna bones). Her fracture was repaired with the same implant system and after a few months of rest and home care, she returned to her normal routine.

These four patients are just a few of the many who have benefited from this implant system at Purdue University Veterinary Hospital. Having such state-of-the-art equipment is essential for the hospital to provide advanced care and treatment for small and large animals. However, having the state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff needed to fulfill the hospital’s mission as a referral center is expensive. Therefore, donations and support from friends such as Lil BUB’s family, fans and animal lovers are vital.

Three years after his passing, it’s clear that Lil BUB’s legacy is lasting and strong. Thanks to the kind donations that have been made to support the fundraising effort that she inspired to enable the veterinary hospital to purchase the implant system, her memory lives on through all the pets that have received and will receive similar care at Purdue Small Animal Hospital. His legacy also continues through Lil BUB’s Big FUND for Special Needs Pets, a 501c3 nonprofit created in his honor and focused on the hardest-to-adopt, expensive-to-maintain, and high-risk pets. of euthanasia. . Click here to learn more about Lil BUB’s Big FUND.

Anna Ihrie and Kevin Doerr

Source: Sarah Malek

Christine E. Phillips