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Cat Cemetery at the Hemingway Home

Posted by
Steven (Chicagoland, United States) on 10 December 2013 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida 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 museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have four and five toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

Ernest 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. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. The polydactyl cats are not a particular breed. The trait can appear in any breed. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.

Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people and that same tradition is carried on today. Including those listed on the headstone pictured above, other names of cats included Tigger, Kim Novak, Willard Scott, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, and Liz Taylor. These names were spotted on the stepping stones that the woman is standing on in the upper photo.

Happy Silly Tuesday.

Photos captured September 25, 2013.

NIKON D7000 1/80 second F/5.0 ISO 400 75 mm (35mm equiv.)

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Spotlight Images

Diana from San Francisco, United States

Thanks for sharing the picture and story.

10 Dec 2013 6:34am

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

I wonder if there is a feline Lady Gaga wondering around out there? :-)

10 Dec 2013 7:39am

Mirjam from Kyiv, Ukraine

Yes, thank you for the text and picture.

10 Dec 2013 7:40am

Nigel from Avening, United Kingdom

Love the celebrity names

10 Dec 2013 8:43am

Tede from Aubenas 07, France

Merci pour les explications, très belle image.

10 Dec 2013 8:56am

Etsu from Kyoto, Japan

Oh...Cats are sleeping quietly there. Nice find. Have a nice day. :)

10 Dec 2013 9:07am

Graciel.la (Vic. Catalonia) from CAT. New European State, Poland

Ha ha, a well idea.
I don't know this story. Thanks for sharing it.

Have a happy ST

10 Dec 2013 9:21am

Stephen from Canberra, Australia

A great find and interesting collection of personalities judging by some of those names!

10 Dec 2013 12:36pm

Mhelene from Villiers-sur-Marne, France

Superb ! Very interesting .

10 Dec 2013 1:16pm

tataray from Deux-Sèvres. (Charentes-Poitou), France

Superbe. Attrayantes explications.)

10 Dec 2013 1:37pm

Frances from Massachusetts, United States

Fantastic shot and a wonderful narrative. I am a cat lover. :)

10 Dec 2013 2:21pm

Phil Morris from Saskatoon, Toronto, NYC, Canada

I love the way you set up the photo, very well done.

10 Dec 2013 3:07pm

Ferret from Central Florida, United States

This is an interesting image with a great narrative. I hope you really enjoyed your trip to Key West.

10 Dec 2013 3:18pm

Judy aka L@dybug from Brooksville, FL, United States

Oh yes, and all had six toes, right? ;D

10 Dec 2013 4:03pm

pixim from Nizza la Bella, France

The point of view is amazing, it adds to the surprise of the photo Well done ;-)

10 Dec 2013 6:18pm

Ruthiebear from Titusville, NJ, United States

Happy ST - interesting info and place

10 Dec 2013 6:35pm

Francisco Romero from Carbajal de la Legua, Spain

Very informative post and an excellent image to illustrate it. Very good framing.

10 Dec 2013 8:19pm

B. Thomas from Arlington, Texas, United States

Bubba lived among some famous "people". I used to have a polydactyl cat. His feet looked like he had on mittens. He had the most wonderful personality of any cat I've had. I would love to have another one like him. Happy Silly Tuesday!!

10 Dec 2013 8:23pm

B. Thomas from Arlington, Texas, United States

PS A photo of my polydactyl cat was posted here.

10 Dec 2013 8:25pm

@B. Thomas: Thank you for sharing! I didn't think they were all that common.

Baldwin Vandewalle from Bejuma, Venezuela

Strange place and interesting information !!! Great shot ...
Happy ST ...

10 Dec 2013 9:13pm

LauraS from Chico, United States

Thanks for this share for the photo as well as the history.

10 Dec 2013 9:22pm

Rick from Toronto, Canada

One of my cats, probably a favourite in my lifetime, has the extra toes and she is one great mouser. Fabulous and fascinating post today, Steven.

10 Dec 2013 11:12pm

Daryl Johnson from Worcester Park, United Kingdom

Very interesting story, never knew about this.

10 Dec 2013 11:56pm

Michael Rawluk from Williams Lake, BC, Canada

I guess that fits for Silly Tuesday.

11 Dec 2013 12:29am

Elaine Hancock from Rockville, United States

Wow, that is nice that someone looks after them. I think that the cat cemetery is rather charming! Happy ST!

11 Dec 2013 12:33am

RBL from Oxford, United States

Interesting scene … that is so neat the tradition of naming the cats after famous people and to keep the tradition going too is great!

11 Dec 2013 12:41am

Harry from Apex, NC, United States

Fine documentary

11 Dec 2013 12:47am

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

great find. very nice gesture

11 Dec 2013 12:59am

Julie L. Brown from Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

Very interesting!

11 Dec 2013 1:32am

L'angevine from Angers, France

ah je me demande s'il y a aussi un cimetière pour chats en France

11 Dec 2013 7:46am

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

Strange and very interesting! An excellent find.

11 Dec 2013 7:23pm