Some people like to say that dogs are people’s best friend; however, at the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, a group of special polydactyl cats take the spotlight. Though it may seem odd, over 40 six-toed felines call the Hemingway House home, and visitors can’t help but fall in love with these spunky residents. When you stay with us at The Southernmost Inn, you can learn about the interesting history of Ernest Hemingway and his world-famous six-toed cats, as well as meet these unique critters in person during your Key West excursion.

A Captain, A Cat, And Ernest Hemingway

When Ernest Hemingway initially came to Key West, he didn’t have plans to take up residency. Hemingway houseHowever, when a few chain events occurred when the Ford dealership offered him a residency in one of their apartments while he waited for a car that had been purchased for him and his newly-wedded wife, Pauline, by Pauline’s uncle, Gus. Throughout a three-week wait, he became close to Charles Thompson who introduced him to big game fishing, and Ernest and Pauline eventually fell in love with the Southernmost Point of Florida. Ernest Hemingway later built the Hemingway House and became a permanent resident of Key West. Having established relationships with ship captains in his fishing endeavors, Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat named Snowball by one of the captains that he had met. From there Snowball handed down her odd genetic trait that all of the Hemingway polydactyl cats still carry today.

A Bit About Polydactyl Cats

Though only about half of the cats at the Hemingway House have the unique six-toed trait, they all carry the DNA of snowball. The polydactyl attribute is not specific to any species, but it is a gene that will always be passed along with every generation to come. Many of the cats that roam the small island of Key West as well as wander throughout and around the now museum are all thought to be descendants of Snowball.

Visit The Hemingway House

When you stay with us at The Southernmost Inn, be sure to stop by the Hemingway House for a day full of history and adorable polydactyl cats. There is a team of caretakers that are committed to maintaining the health and happiness of these beloved felines. Hemingway named all of his cats after famous figures, and that tradition is still followed today as these amazing critters can learn their names and respond to it when called. So experience these unique polydactyl cats first-hand and enjoy one of Ernest Hemingway’s most adored interests.