Ernest Hemingway, one of America’s most influential 20th Century authors, perpetuated the idea of masculinity – both in his written work and in himself as an avid fisherman, hunter and boxer. Surprisingly, Hemingway also had a soft spot for cats. His fondness for cats was widely photographed and he was quoted as saying that “[a] cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
While living in Key West, Florida, Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain. The cat was given the name “Snowball.” Eventually, after Hemingway’s suicide in 1961, the Key West house was turned into the Hemingway Home and Museum. Among the things the museum preserved were the cats that lived on the premise. It is now home to approximately 40-50 of the six-toed cats (also called polydactyl cats). Reportedly, some of the current cats are descendants of Snowball. [The “Hemingway Cats” have also caused a recent legal battle.]
“Cat’s were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man.” – Ernest Hemingway
Photos of Hemingway with cats…
Hemingway Home and Museum
David Haglund, “When Ernest Hemingway Killed His Cat,” Slate, March 28, 2012.
Alison Flood, “Ernest Hemingway letters reveal painful late years of affection and loss,” The Guardian, March 30, 2012.
Jonah Goldberg, “Washington vs. Hemingway’s cats,” New York Post, December 30, 2012.
Ky Moshrefi, “Ernest Hemingway in Key West,” Huckleberry, Feburary 19, 2013.