Key West was Ernest Hemingway’s home for a decade. I didn’t get round to visiting his house (now a museum) last year, but this time round, it was firmly on my list. My motivation was not so much the hunt for juicy insights on the illustrious, troubled writer and his seedy life, but to get my hands on the infamous six-toed kittehs.
Six-toedness springs from a genetic mutation, and cats with six toes are meant to bring good luck. For this reason, they were a popular choice for ships’ cats for centuries. Indeed, Hemingway was given his original six-toed cat, named Snowball, by a ship’s captain. The man was very accident-prone, probably because he was a war correspondent and pissed as a newt most of the time, and so he was always in search of good luck charms. He loved his lucky cats, and reportedly replied, when asked why his house was overrun by them, that “one cat lead to another”.
Today, there are 45 six-toed cats on the grounds of Hemingway’s house, all of them Snowball’s descendents.
Without further a do, here are some snaps of them:
See ’em tootsies?
You need big feet to accommodate all of them!
Sorry lady, your toes may be all pretty and painted, but they are not nearly as interesting as mine!
The pampered creatures claim the best snoozing spots around the house, safely out of reach of the tourist hordes trampling through.
Like in the middle of Hemingway’s cordoned-off bed
…and in a sunny spot in his writing studio.
This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good scratch behind the ears.
Sometimes they like to pose:
Quite regal, aren’t I?
Sometimes they can’t be bothered to pay us any attention at all:
They get into skirmishes, as cats do:
I’m the boss around here, you gangly git!
Nobody messes with me…
The six-toed kitty walk of fame???
And for all those who’ve slinked through the big cat flap in the sky, there’s a shady spot: