A Little Story About Brownie the Cat

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Brownie our cat recently fractured a bone in her paw, bringing our household casualty rate to 75 percent. Dan has a wicked cold and Mack our other cat has dermatitis on his belly.

Brownie on an unhappy visit to Dr. Megan.

Brownie and Mack are two of my favorite subjects to paint.

Mack, displeased at our late arrival home for dinner.

We adopted Brownie and her sister Gracie about 10 years ago. Dan wanted to name them Brown Cat and Gray Cat because of their coloring. I quickly intervened and suggested Brownie and Gracie.

As kittens they’d lived somewhere under a Wendy’s dumpster in suburban Washington, D.C. Gracie, who had a high kitty IQ, protected Brownie, who was always a little wild and – let’s be honest – a little stupid.

Brownie is a Kitler — a kitty with a Hitler moustache. It suits.

One Saturday morning Dan and I walked into our suburban D.C. living room to see them basking in the sunshine. I snapped a picture with my cell phone that inspired a gouache and watercolor painting of them – one of my favorites.

Brownie and Gracie. Watercolor and gouache on 140-lb. paper. 9″ by 12″. Private collection.

Gracie died at a young age. I wept at my desk. She had FIP, and Brownie was a carrier. If we wanted another cat, it had to be an older one. Otherwise Brownie would transmit the disease to a kitten.

Hence Mack, a staid older cat dubbed the Love Bug by the shelter volunteers. Mack is larger than some dogs, and he can be quite intimidating when he jumps in your lap to demand Love Time.

Mack demanding Love Time.

In winter, they sleep in our bed, which is why we call them the Thousand Degree Cats. One night the cats heated Dan so much he went to the downstairs bedroom to sleep. He woke up realizing there were still two creatures on the bed. No, wait, there were three – Brownie and Mack were playing with a mouse. Dan got dressed, scooped the mouse into a cardboard box and took him to the Stonington dump, where he could live a happy life.

That little adventure inspired a birthday card. I’m glad I got into the habit of making kitty-themed cards for Dan. It’s hard to find good greeting cards on a Maine island.

Brownie, despite her personality flaws, inspires some of my favorite paintings. Like this one.

Porch Kitty. Watercolor and gouache on 140-lb. paper. 12″ by 12″. Private collection.

And this one.

Moving Day. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 9″ by 12 “. Private collection.

And, for the record, her paw is healing nicely.

 

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