Hemingway Cats


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Hemingway Cats

Hemingway Cats Painting

The cats in this Hemingway Cats Painting live at the Hemingway House in Key West, Florida, and are not just ordinary felines; they are a unique and cherished part of the estate’s history and charm. These cats, known as Hemingway cats, are descendants of a polydactyl cat named Snow White, given to Ernest Hemingway by a ship’s captain. Polydactyl cats, characterized by having extra toes, are often referred to as “six-toed cats,” although some may have even more toes.

Hemingway was known for his love of cats, and Snow White quickly became a beloved companion. The genetic trait for polydactyly is dominant, meaning many of Snow White’s offspring inherited her unique paws. Today, around 60 cats reside at the Hemingway House, many of which display this distinctive trait. These cats have become one of the most popular and endearing attractions at the museum, delighting visitors with their quirky appearance and charming personalities.

Hemingway Cats Painting – the Rulers

The Hemingway cats are an integral part of the daily life and operations at the Hemingway House. The museum staff cares for these cats meticulously, ensuring they are healthy, happy, and well-fed. The cats roam freely around the property, enjoying the lush gardens, sunny verandas, and the various nooks and crannies of the historic house. They are a living link to the past, providing a tangible connection to Hemingway’s time in Key West.

The Hemingway Cats Painting shows the presence of the cats with a layer of warmth and charm of the Hemingway House. Each cat has a name, often inspired by famous literary or historical figures, a tradition that Hemingway himself started. This practice adds to the whimsical and playful atmosphere of the Hemingway House. The cats are also featured in various aspects of the museum’s operations, from guided tours to merchandise, highlighting their importance to the overall visitor experience. This is depicted in the Hemingway Cats Painting.

Visiting the House

Visitors often find themselves captivated by these friendly and curious animals, who are known to greet guests, lounge in the sun, and even pose for photographs. Their relaxed and independent nature reflects the spirit of Key West itself, embodying the laid-back, free-spirited lifestyle that Hemingway loved.

The museum has taken significant steps to ensure the cats’ well-being, including regular veterinary care, a comfortable living environment, and a comprehensive feeding program. The cats are also protected under the terms of a USDA license, which allows the museum to maintain and care for them as part of its operations.


In essence, the Hemingway cats are more than just pets; they are historical icons in their own right. They enrich the visitor experience, adding a unique and personal dimension to the Hemingway House. These polydactyl cats, with their extraordinary lineage and connection to one of America’s greatest writers, continue to be a beloved part of the Hemingway House’s legacy, charming guests from all over the world with their distinctive charm and historical significance.

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