Ernest Hemingway’s Cats – His Unique Kitty Community

Ernest Hemingway’s Cats: Learn About This Famous Author’s Unique Kitty Community

Ernest Hemingway is perhaps the most famous American writer also known as an avid cat lover. An unbroken line from Hemingway’s cats continues today from his favorite cat, Snow White. This has been continual since his untimely passing in 1961.

There are nearly 50 of them who stay at his former residence in Key West, Florida, just few blocks from the southernmost tip of the continental USA. They are all named after famous people, a tradition maintained from Hemingway himself.

The Genetic Uniqueness of Hemingway’s Cats is Preserved

Hemingway’s cats are mostly polydactyl, having an abnormality which gives them extra toes. While not all of them express the polydactyl gene, they all carry it. This means even if one of the cats has a normal amount of toes, they can still produce six toed kittens.

To keep Snow White’s legacy alive, staff allow a kitten to produce litter every year. After that the rest of the animals are spayed or neutered.

Ernest Hemingway petting a black cat at home in Cuba.

The Legend

Ernest Hemingway was given a white six toed cat by a ship’s captain named Stanley Dexter. She became Hemmingway’s favorite cat. He named her Snow White. She was the great grandmother of the descended family of cats that are there today.

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At the bars and boat piers near his Key West house, Hemingway heard stories of six toed cats with magical powers. He learned that superstitious ship captains brought them on board for good luck and safe passages. He became fascinated by this legend and the idea of these cat gypsies who rode on ships.

Further Intriguing Facts About Hemingway’s Cats

  • Hemingway was rumored to have as much like 150 cats between his houses in Key West and Cuba at the time of his passing
  • There is a staff that has been appointed especially to take care of the cats. They are very attentive to the cat’s special care needs
  • Hemingway’s residence also maintains a special cemetery just for the cats
A tour guide speaks to visitors at Hemingway’s Key West House While One of The Cats Looks On


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