Though hurricane Ian battered much of the Florida coast, Ernest Hemingway’s Key West mansion, home to 59 cats, remained safe and sound.
How Hurricane Ian Affected the Estate
According to the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum app, the category four hurricane’s 155mph winds caused superficial damage to the sprawling Spanish colonial-style estate, where the late author wrote 70 percent of his works. The grounds were strewn with debris. But all cats, who freely roam the property, were reported safe.
“All out cats are safe – we don’t put them in cages. They walk around and naturally know to get to safety during storms,” Alexa Morgan, a spokesperson for the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, told The Daily Mail.
Before the storm, the staff ensured the cats were safe, and a few employees stayed to feed and care for them, according to People.
“All is well,” Morgan added.
This isn’t the first time the Hemingway Home and its feline residents have rode out a hurricane. Some of the same cats remained unharmed through Hurricane Irma five years ago.
Why Hemingway Loved Polydactyl Cats
Hemingway was an avid animal lover. But he had a particular affinity for a specific type of cat – polydactyls or those with extra toes. According to the museum website, about half of the cats on Hemingway’s property have this trait. Whereas most cats have five front and four back toes, polydactyl cats typically have six on the front feet. Even those on the property who do not have extra toes carry the gene in their DNA, enabling them to have polydactyl kittens.
According to the website, Hemingway developed his love of six-toed cats after receiving one from a ship’s captain. He named the cat Snow White, and many of the estate’s current residents are her descendants. In step with the late scribe’s tradition, all the cats are named after famous people.
Besides visiting the home in person, you can see the cats via the museum’s Hemingway Cat App.