The Hemingway House is essentially a sanctuary for a select group of 54 cats, distinguished by their six toes on their front paws instead of the normal five. The house itself is located in Key West, Florida and was where American author Ernest Hemingway wrote many of his distinguished works, including "A Farewell To Arms." The home has now been turned into a museum that visitors can tour. Best yet, they can also meet and play with the descendants of the cats that Hemingway himself owned in the 1930s when he resided in the home.
Six-toed cats, or polydactyl cats, are said to be a symbol of good luck by sailors. They were called "Ships Cats" and traveled with ship men across their voyages. Hemingway was given his first polydactyl cat by a ship's captain and named him Snow White. Some of Snow White's family still lives the home today. Though the cats aren't all the same breed, they share a similar genetic trait. Every cat living in the home carries the polydactyl gene even if it isn't physically expressed, giving it the ability to produce offspring with the trait.
Hemingway had a fierce love for these cats, which is why owners of the home today still put great amounts of time and effort into caring for and continuing the generations of them. When Hurricane Irma threatened to possibly flood and harm the Hemingway House and cats, Jaque Sands, the current owner of the home had to take action. News that the cats would stay in Key West and ride out the storm, despite the order for evacuation in all of Florida's keys, spread to the public, leaving them in fear for what would happen to the beloved animals.
We can be put at ease again: the cats are fine. The limestone walls of the house proved to be effective protection. Along with the rest of the property, Hemingway's felines are safe and warm in their homes and will continue to be for generations to come.
Learn more about the Hemingway House here!