It’s December of 2013, and I’m driving in the backseat of a town car with my cat BUB sound asleep in my lap, her tiny head resting on my arm as she makes a sound that is equal parts snore and purr. She slowly soaks the sleeve of my jacket with her warm drool. We are on our way from the airport to our hotel in downtown New York City, where we’ll be staying while we shoot Lil BUB’s Special Special, my cat’s very own 30-minute television special for Animal Planet, starring two of my high school heroes, Amy Sedaris and Andrew W.K.
The car comes to a stop, and as we step out onto the cold city street, I look up to read the sign of the hotel we’re staying at: The Dream. I recognize the irony and briskly roll my bags and my magical space cat inside to check in.
The Dream Hotel in Downtown New York is a fascinating place. Fascinating to me, because it’s the last place I would ever imagine staying. Don’t get me wrong; BUB and I have stayed in some really nice hotels, but The Dream is totally over-the-top. Real aquarium ceilings, gaudy chandeliers, the smell of dozens of perfumes overlapping, and a row of beautiful young European women behind a long marble counter checking people into their rooms. The lady checking me in is Russian, I can tell from her accent (a very familiar sound to me, growing up in a Russian immigrant family). She doesn’t see BUB, who is napping in her carrier. I get my key card and head to my room.
The room is small, just enough space for the king-sized bed and my stuff, dominated by a giant circular window that faces the city.
This will be our home for the next week as we meet with the production team, iron out the show’s logistics, and then bravely attempt to shoot a 30-minute television special with five animals in one and a half days.
I could go on for hours about the show itself, the absurdity of it, how my best friend Mark and I were given the opportunity to create one of the weirdest shows to air on network television, how we wrote a song for Andrew W.K., and how we attempted to direct Amy Sedaris, who hadn’t learned a single line from the script. But this story isn’t about that. It’s about BUB, and how she turned poop into wine.
Fast forward a few days past all of the anxiety, stress, and exhaustion that inevitably come with shooting your cat’s first network television special, to the very moment when you stumble into your room at The Dream hotel, completely drained after a 10-hour day of shooting. I pull BUB out of her carrier and place her onto the soft, fluffy, down comforter to snooze while I grab a quick drink with Mark at the bar downstairs.
After only one drink we retire to our rooms. I open the door to find a surprise; BUB is about five feet from where I left her and in her place, diarrhea.
I carefully lift her up, check to make sure she’s clean (surprisingly she is), and set her down in her cat bed, still snoozing. I fold up the comforter, set it outside my room, and call housekeeping to explain what happened, apologizing profusely. It’s no problem they say, they’ll send a new comforter immediately.
Fifteen minutes later I get a call to my room. From her accent I can tell it’s the woman that checked me in, and she’s furious that I snuck a pet into my room. I tell her it’s no ordinary pet, we’re in town shooting a television special, she’s the reason we’re here. She wasn’t having it and explained that I would need to pay $1,000 for a new comforter, and would be up shortly to collect my credit card information. I lift BUB into my arms to help curb my anxiety.
Another 15 minutes go by before I hear the knock on my door. I answer with BUB gently cradled in my left arm, her paws peeking neatly over my forearm. As the door swings open, the woman storms in with pen and paper in hand.
Before she can say anything to me, she notices BUB and abruptly freezes, caught in BUB’s stare, stunned by BUB’s powerful presence, emotionally moved by her magic.
I’ve seen this happen many times before – in airports, on trains, backstage at talk shows. Hell, it happened to me the first time I laid eyes on BUB. It’s not because people recognize her; in fact, the most heartfelt cases are with those that have no idea who she is.
She opens her mouth to speak, but at first she stutters. “Something about her is special. I have never liked cats, but this one is different.” She steps closer to give BUB a light pat, and we then talk for 20-30 minutes about BUB’s inspirational story, how she’s overcome so much, how she’s helped so many, and how she has changed my life. I guess I’m off the hook for the comforter, because she never brings it up again. As she leaves my room she thanks me for sharing BUB’s story, and says she’ll be sending up something special to my room.
And that’s how BUB turned poop into wine.
To learn more about BUB and what makes her so special, please visit www.lilbub.com/about.