“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
I’ve known for a long time that Ernest Hemingway liked cats. A lot. Key West is said to be overrun with cats because of him, which is probably a bit of an exaggeration.
But here’s a weird fact I just found out: About half of the cats that hang out at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida, have six toes! Normal cats have five toes in the front and four in the back, but not Hemingway’s cats. Hemingway’s cats have six toes.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum explains why there are about 50 extra-toed cats running around:
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.
Six-toed cats are called polydactyl cats, but today many people use the term Hemingway cat as a stand in. You can read more about polydactyls and the history of the author’s cats here.
Other famous literary cat lovers include Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.