Lil Bub, the internet famous cat, has died.

She passed away at the age of eight, her owner Mike Bridavsky announced, after suffering from a "persistent and aggressive bone infection". Despite her illness, the death had come as a shock, Mr Bridavsky said.

"Even knowing this, we weren't expecting her to pass so soon or so abruptly without warning," he wrote in an announcement. "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."

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Lil Bub was known for her unusual look, including the fact that her tongue hung out all of the time and that her limbs were shorter than usual. She had a number of genetic abnormalities that made her the subject of study by scientists, as well as a hit on the internet.

Bub was the runt of a feral litter found in Indiana, and struggled to be adopted. Eventually she was taken in by Mr Bridavsky, who soon after shared pictures of her online because "I was super-proud of her and I really thought she was the most amazing creature", he would later say.

She became famous after photographs were shared on Tumblr and Reddit in 2011. She went on to accrue a vast social media following, with millions of followers on Instagram and Facebook.

Her internet fame led to a talk show and musical collaborations. A book was published under her name and she was the star of a documentary called Lil Bub & Friendz, which explored the phenomenon of viral cats.

Mr Bridavsky used the cat's popularity to raise money for animal charities.

"Bub has made a huge difference in the world of animal welfare, and in the lives of millions of people worldwide," he wrote in the announcement.

"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."

She died on 1 December, eight years after being adopted by Mr Bridavsky. "Bub was cheerful and full of love laying in our bed with us Saturday night, but unexpectedly passed away peacefully in her sleep," he wrote in his update.

Lil Bub is the second internet famous cat to die this year. In May, Grumpy Cat died at the age of seven.

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