The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes.
About half of the cats at the house and museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most polydactyl cats have extra toes on their front feet but they sometimes have an extra toe on their back feet as well.
Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named snowball.
A veterinarian routinely administers vaccinations and performs regular health maintenance on all of the cats. The cats are kept free of fleas, ear mites and worms.
Hemingway named all his cats after famous people and that tradition is still carried on today in the Hemingway House.
In one of the gardens is a memorial and cemetery for the cats. There are small headstones and pavers with the famous cats names carved into them. Because space became limited, now when one of the Hemingway cats dies its name is added a small monument in the garden. (You can see the monument with the green plaques in the upper left corner of the upper left photo.)
Some of the Hemingway cats are very shy, but there are some who will not give you permission to pass until you have bent down and given him a little scratch behind his ear.