Hemmingway's Museum Manager Stays With 54 Polydactyl Cats During Hurricane, All Are Safe

Cats normally have 5 front toes and 4 back toes. But in some rare instances, cats can have more than the normal amount of toes. The trait can appear in any breed of cats.  Ernest Hemmingway, the famous and now deceased poet had cats with more than the usual amount of toes.

The poet was given a six-toed cat by a ship’s captain many years ago.  Some of the cats who live on the Ernest Hemmingway Museum Grounds today in Key West, Florida are descendants of that original cat.  Hemmingway’s first polydactyl cat was named Snow White, a name given because of its furry white hair.

When Hurricane Irma threatened the Gulf Coast,  Hemmingway’s cats were also threatened. Key West was originally expected to get the brunt of the storm.  Jaque Sands, 72, the general manager of the Hemmingway Home was told to evacuate along with most residents of Key West. Sands, however, was not willing to leave the home and the cats. Instead, he weathered out the storm with the famous felines.

Ernest Hemmingway Museum Website Photo

The Hemingway Home and Museum Curator Dave Gonzales explains, “When we started to round up the cats to take them inside, some of them actually ran inside knowing it was time to take shelter. Sometimes I think they’re smarter than the human beings.”

Safe and Sound Inside the 18-Inch Walls

Then Hurricane Irma hit Key West.  Inside the 18-inch-thick limestone walls, the cats along with Sands and 10 staff members weathered out the storm together.

Thankfully, not one person nor cat was injured nor killed in the storm.  The Polydactyl cats of Ernest Hemmingway will live on hopefully for many generations to come!

“Hopefully, things will get back to normal in Key West, and we’ll enjoy our life in paradise,” Sands said.

If you are in Key West and would like to visit the cats and the home of Ernest Hemmingway, make sure to stop by.

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