Located in Key West, FL, the Ernest Hemingway house was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and was the home of the legendary Nobel Prize winning author from 1931 to1939. To cat lovers, the house is well-known as the home to up to 60 cats, approximately half of them being polydactyl cats. Also referred to as “Hemingway cats,” these polydactyl cats have 6 or more toes on each front paw, and sometimes even have extra toes on the back feet.
The original Hemingway cat was a white cat named Snowball, given to Ernest Hemingway as a gift by the captain of a ship. Many of the cats who reside on Key West and at the Hemingway House are thought to be descendants of that cat. All of the Hemingway cats are traditionally named after famous people.
During a visit to the Hemingway House, I saw this famous sight: the urinal that Hemingway rescued during a renovation of his favorite bar and then converted into a drinking fountain for the resident cats.
The Hemingway cats are free to roam throughout the grounds and inside the house. A visitor to the Hemingway House will observe lots of cats, such as this gray polydactyl, relaxing throughout the grounds. While the staff ask that you do not pick up the resident cats, you are free to pet them if the cats allow it.
You can also visit the pet cemetery on the grounds of the Hemingway house. You can see that the cats were named after famous people, such as the marker for the kitty Marilyn Monroe pictured here.
If you choose to visit, the Ernest Hemingway house is open to visitors daily, year round.