Hemingway’s House, and Six-Toed Cats, Survived Hurricane Irma in Key West

The 54 cats have all been reported safe and sound.

September 12, 2017 4:08 pm
Princess Six-Toes, one of the six-toed felines, decendents of those given to Ernest Hemingway
Princess Six-Toes, one of the six-toed felines, decendents of those given to Ernest Hemingway, that live at the Hemingway House in Key West, Fla., stays dry inside one of the many cat houses at the Hemingway house Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006. The home and museum was closed, but a small staff was there to make sure it was well boarded up, and also to ensure that the home's nearly 50 cats were comfortable during the storm. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Though Hurricane Irma devastated parts of Florida and the Caribbean, the Hemingway six-toed cats are all okay.

Ernest Hemingway owned a white polydactyl cat at his residence in Key West, Florida. There are now 54 descendants from that cat, all living at the same residence. When the Florida Keys were told to evacuate last week in the face of the approaching storm, Jacque Sands, the general manager of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, refused to leave, reports the New York Timesbecause she said she had an obligation to the cats and the house.

But people were worried, and Mariel Hemingway, one of Hemingway’s granddaughters, publicly told Sands to evacuate.

But never fear, the house’s curator, Dave Gonzales, confirmed that all of the cats, many with having six or seven toes, rode out the storm, and the 10 employees who stayed with the cats were all fine too. Gonzales told the Times that he thinks the cats, which have become as much of a draw for tourists as the house itself, knew the storm was coming because many of them ran into the house themselves without needing to be rounded up.

The limestone house has 18-inch-thick walls, which retained the air-conditioning and made the house more comfortable, reports the Times. However, the Spanish Colonial-style building, which was built in 1851, currently has no electricity, water, or internet service.

Mariel Hemingway told the Times that she is glad the storm is over, and that she thinks it’s “great that they cared enough to try to really protect all things Hemingway.”

Ernest Hemingway and wife Pauline Pfeiffer moved into the house in 1901 and remodeled it, including spending $20,000 on the first in-ground pool in Key West.

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