October 14, 1991 12:00 PM

BUD D. HOLLY LIKES TO NAP, CATCH flies, watch birds and nip on cat food. He is a small celebrity in Mendocino, Calif. Like the late great rocker whose name his approximates, Bud is a hot-selling artist, though he’s no musician. He paints. Which isn’t shabby for a black-and-gray tiger-striped tabby who works on all fours.

A precocious 10 months old, Bud is the artist-in-residence at Sharon Flood’s Village Art Gallery. After adopting the stray in December, Flood was intrigued when she found his muddy paw prints on her glass tables. On a whim, she decided to commit his work to paper after inducing him to walk across a selection of nontoxic watercolors. “It all started as a thing to make people chuckle,” says Flood, 48.

Flood next mounted a one-cat show, cropping and framing some of Bud’s works for a gala in May. To her amazement, 20 paintings sold that night at $15 to $150 apiece. Another 30 have sold since.

Although a few catty human artists have complained behind Bud’s back, to such fans as Kathy Shafsky, a bank secretary who owns four Buds, his work is like catnip. “One looks very oriental,” she says. “There seem to be crocodiles in the corner.”

Like all artists, of course, Bud is a creature of moods. Flood has noticed lately that a certain lightness has crept into his work. Inexplicably, she says, it’s been that way “ever since he was fixed.”

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