Hemingway Cats Survive Hurricane Irma As Storm Spares Key West Museum

All 54 cats are safe and accounted for after Irma struck the Florida Keys.

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Hemingway polydactyl cat
About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, according to the museum's website. Via Sam Howzit/Flickr
Stephanie Brown

The Hemingway Home and Museum’s plan not relocate the property’s 50+ cats as Hurricane Irma made a beeline for the Florida Keys made many cat lovers uneasy. Fortunately, Irma spared the museum and the cats.

The cats who call the Key West museum home are all safe and accounted for, MSNBC reports. Some are said to be the descendants of the prolific writer’s six-toed cat, Snow White.

Hemingway House

The limestone house was built in 1851. Via Andreas Lamecker/Wikipedia

The museum’s curator, Dave Gonzales, told the news outlet that before the storm hit, staffers brought the cats inside the house, which has 18-inch thick limestone walls.

“When we started to round up the cats to take them inside, some of them actually ran inside knowing it was time to take shelter,” he told MSNBC. “Sometimes I think they’re smarter than the human beings.”

Hemingway cat on bed

When the museum is open, the beloved cats can be seen all over the house and grounds, including the master bedroom. Via Sam Howzit/Flickr

Ten employees hunkered down with the cats inside the building Saturday night.

“We love them, they love us,” Gonzales told MSNBC on Sunday. “We all hung out last night together.”

The museum has no running water and the power is out, he said, but the home is intact. Gonzales said the staff planned to stay at the museum one more night as recovery efforts get underway on the islands. The museum has three generators, which have allowed employees to plug in refrigerators and preserve their food.

Hemingway House in Keys is intact — and 54 six-toed cats are …

JUST IN: Good news: The curator at the Hemingway House in the Keys tells MSNBC that the historic home is intact — and the 54 six-toed cats are safe — after Hurricane #Irma. http://nbcnews.to/2eV7FBr

Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gonzales’ decision to remain on site with the cats drew some criticism. Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel Hemingway, even pleaded with the museum’s 72-year-old general manager, Jacque Sands, to take the cats and go. Still, Gonzales contended that the cats would be safe inside the house, noting that they had never lost a cat to a hurricane. Luckily, he was right.

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