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The Hemingway cats may continue to freely roam their Key West, Florida estate, after a judge’s ruling in a legal case that could have resulted in them being removed or caged. It’s taken five years and $250,000 for the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum to resolve the case.


They’d been threatened by the USDA with a fine of $200 per day PER CAT (for a total of about $10,000/day) because they did not have an animal exhibition license and couldn’t qualify for one (because the cats weren’t enclosed). After working with an animal behaviorist and fencing the property, they reached an agreement with the federal government.


Hemingway’s cats are descended from a cat named “Snowball” who was a gift to the cat-loving writer in 1935. All carry the gene for polydactylism (multi-toes), although not all exhibit the trait. In fact, polydactyl cats are often referred to as “Hemingway Cats.” We like to think that the cats are what draws thousands of visitors each year to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.



Photo from the book “Hemingway’s Cats

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