Hemingway’s cat poses for a seated portrait.

Hemingway’s Cat. Key West Florida, 1992. By Paul Goldfinger. Copyright. Left click to enlarge.

Hemingway’s Cat. Key West Florida, 1992. By Paul Goldfinger. Copyright. Left click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger

Ernest Hemingway died in 1961, and his house in Key West has been turned into a museum located in the “old town” area. It is a funky place to visit as is the neighborhood. One of its interesting features is that 45 cats roam free on the property. They are all supposedly descendants of a white cat called “Snowball” which was given to “Papa” by a sea captain. The cats are most famous for having the polydactyl gene such that about half of the cats have 6 toes instead of the usual 4 or 5.

The Hemingway cats all have celebrity names such as “Clark Gable” or “Marilyn Monroe.” They are visited weekly by a vet, and Pfizer company provides special prevention medications for them. There are high fences to keep them from carousing in the neighborhood, and they tend to be very social.

Recently the NY Times has reported that the US Department of Agriculture has been giving the museum a hard time over the cats, even though the cats are well cared for.

Here’s a link if you want to see more photos and read the NYT article:

NY Times article on Hemingway’s Cats