All 54 Of The 6-Toed Cats That Live In Ernest Hemingway's House Have Survived Hurricane Irma

image credit: Hemingway House Museum

image credit: Hemingway House Museum

Today in News That Makes You Feel Slightly Less Terrible: Hemingway's cats are alive!

Many of my family members live right in Irma's path. All but one of them fled before landfall. There won't be houses for them to come home to, but they're alive. 

My one cousin who stayed did so because her wife is a large animal vet. I guess someone has to take care of the horses?

Also, someone has to take care of the cats.

Ernest Hemingway's cats.

image credit: @mightymooseart

Well, not his cats exactly. He's dead. Dead people don't really have cats.

BUT his house has cats. Fifty-four of them to be exact. Fifty-four six-toed cats.

The Hemingway House Museum sits right in Irma's path.

But these cats don’t care about none of that.

You know what Ernest said, “This was a big storm and he might as well enjoy it. It was ruining everything, but you might as well enjoy it.”

He probably wasn’t thinking about his 54 cats when he wrote For Whom The Bell Tolls, but it still works.

Museum curator David Gonzalez told The Houston Chronicle that the cats were already accustomed to surviving storms that have hit Key West in the past. "Cats know naturally when to go. As soon as the barometric pressure drops, they come in. They know before humans do when it's time to get in."

Yes, animals are often more intelligent than humans.

Another thing Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Does this apply to gale-force winds?

Sadly, the oft forgotten second part of this quote from A Farewell To Arms is this: “But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

Uh oh.

Why do all of the cats have six toes, you might ask?

Excellent question.

Well here’s what happened. Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain.

GET OUT OF HERE. Brilliant writer and cat lover?


(Also a misogynist alcoholic, but whatever.)

The museum website says, “Some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White.”

Also, “Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related.”

Ya think? Have you seen the way cats inbreed?

Cats do not have ethics or morality around who they impregnate. 

As Hemingway himself said, “One cat just leads to another. The place is so damned big it doesn't really seem as though there were many cats until you see them all moving like a mass migration at feeding time.”

I’m betting all of those cats are cousins.

Regardless. They’re alive.

Oh, the 10 people who live there are OK, too.

“The house is boarded up…and shuttered with half-inch thick plywood,” Gonzalez said. “We have 54 cats in the property [and] we’ve stocked up on cat food and water.”

No word on if he stocked up on food for the humans. Priorities.

As Hemingway once said, “Who needs food when you have whiskey and a typewriter?”*

Hemingway's cats are just a small portion of the thousands of animals who could be displaced by Hurricane Irma. Many of them have already been abandoned by desperate or careless owners and left tied up outside with no shelter. Even more animals were strays before the hurricane landed, making them extra vulnerable to the storm's violent winds and rain.

If you'd like to help these sweet furry friends out, consider fostering at your local shelter to make room for the rescued animals who will be transferred to shelters across the country. If you don't quite have the resources for that kind of commitment, you could also donate money to any of these animal shelters and organizations that have been providing relief and rescue efforts for animals affected by the storm. 

*Didn’t actually say that.


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