Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Gertrude Stein, resident at Hemingway's home.
Ernest Hemingway spent much of his time in Key West, where his home still stands. It is now a museum, and open for tour. As the story goes, Hemingway would write in the mornings when the temperature was most comfortable, then explore the island in the afternoon. He became acquainted with a sea captain, who gifted Hemingway with an unusual cat. It had an extra toe on each front paw. The extra toe made the cat look as though it wore mittens (another nickname for the phenomena).
You can see the descendents of this original polydactyl cat at Hemingway's Key West home. Approximately sixty cats reside on the grounds, about half of whom are polydactyls. The felines are carefully monitored, allowing only enough kittens to be born each year to maintain the population. Each one is typically named for an author, actor, or artist.
Hemingway has become so closely linked with polydactyl cats that animal shelters often nickname polydactyls, "Hemingways".
If I ever make it to Key West, the Hemingway Home is on my list of must-sees. After all, if it inspired him...