UPDATE: The cats and home are safe. [Kelly Kazek]
All 54 Hemingway cats are safe, and the house is intact, according to Hemingway House General Manager Jacque Sands #HurricaneIrma
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) September 10, 2017
My original story:
As Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys this morning, I was reading a story about the Hemingway House in Key West, the historic site where descendants of the author’s polydactyl cats reside.
See gallery of the home and cats below.
David Gonzales, the curator of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and caretaker of the 54 cats, announced last week he and some of the staff would be staying on the island to care for the felines rather than trying to move them. Gonzales told CNN that trying to take the cats in kennels through the gridlock traffic to an area where they could find shelter would be more stressful than staying in the 1851 home that is built with 18-inch-thick blocks of limestone. Watch Gonzales’ interview here.
Baby Girl and I visited the home in 2007, largely because we wanted to see the unique cats. Polydactyl cats have more than the usual number of toes on one or more paws. We were fascinated to see Hemingway’s gardens, his writing desk, and more of his original furniture in the house. He lived in the home from 1931-39.
Gonzales said the staff has stockpiled food and water for the cats, as well as medication for those who need it. The staff also photographed and inventoried the contents of the home in the event of damage from winds or floods.
I wanted to share some history and photos of the house as we keep the staff, curators and cats in our thoughts as Irma hits the area.